What is a Software Upgrade ?

As time passes and organizations grow, their software applications should be dynamic enough to grow and accommodate their needs.

Software applications that have been implemented and are being actively used by the organization have to be regularly maintained to remain in a good working state.

Some of these maintenance activities might involve installing a software patch, while others might involve performing a software upgrade.

What is a Software Upgrade ?

A software upgrade is defined as a major upgrade that is made to an application. Some of the major changes that can be made to an application include design changes, code changes and even architectural changes.

Based on the amount of changes required, the software upgrade it can be a time consuming and expensive process that involves numerous people and resources.

Some of the changes required in a software upgrade might include installing new software that have dependencies on the upgraded application, changing the software architecture e.g moving from on premise to the cloud, and even retraining the business users on how to use the upgraded application.

Due to the numerous issues that might be encountered when performing a software upgrade, most software vendors would recommend getting an expert to perform the upgrade to ensure that the application is upgraded properly.

But many organizations prefer to do the upgrade themselves with their in house IT staff and the vendors support.

So what are some software upgrade best practices ?

  1. Stakeholders analysis: the software upgrade should be performed like any software implementation and this would involve identifying the right stakeholders. Once you have identified the stakeholders, then you can start communicating with them on the proposed upgrades and identify any concerns that they might have with the proposed upgrade. Some of these concerns can include the need to retraining the business users and data loss.
  2. Identify the software upgrade that needs to be done: once the stakeholders have been identified, then the next step in in the process is to identify the version of the software application that you would like to upgrade to. Some things to consider when dedicing on the right version include the amount of change involves, application dependencies and security concerns.
  3. Establish Upgrade Requirements: Once you have identified the right version, then you would have to identify any dependencies that the application might have to ensure that the upgrade would not break the current version of the application, would not break any other applications and list all the necessary pieces that have to be available to successfully upgrade that application. There might also be special considerations such as customizations and integrations that you would have to identify and consider to ensure that they would not be affected by the upgrade. You should also consider data migration issues because ideally all ongoing transactions should be completed to prevent data loss issues during the upgrade.
  4. Create An Upgrade Plan: the next step is to create an upgrade plan where you would plan the implementation steps, timelines, needed resources and people. The implementation plan should also list the identified dependencies, risks, assumptions, constrainst, servers, security concerns and business users should be listed.
  5. Communicate the implementation plan to the stakeholders: once the implementation plan has been approved, you should share the plan with the stakeholders and identify the steps that the stakeholders would need to perfoem during the upgrade. Some of the steps that the stakeholders might have to perform include completing the outstanding transactions and allocating business users who would test the application.
  6. Perform the upgrade on a test enviroment: you should have a trial run of the proposed upgrade test on a test enviroment to ensure that no unforseen issues would occur. The basic steps that should be included in any upgrade implementation plan include: backing up the data, upgrading the application, user acceptance tests and a rollback plan.
  7. Perform the upgrade in the production enviroment: once the upgraded application has been succefully implemented on the test enviroment, then you should recreate it in the production enviroment.
  8. Post implementation activities: once the software application is successfully upgraded then you should perform some follow up activities such as training the end users, creating user guides and support handbooks.