Eventually, we all know that the dreaded day is coming…the day we will need to upgrade our labeling software. However, with a new version being released every year or two, it is a challenge to pick the best time to make the upgrade. Choosing to upgrade at every new release uses up valuable resources and likely provides minimal benefit. But if you wait too long, you might see costly production downtime when the software fails at the worst possible time.
New Version Release
Most major labeling software developers release a new version on regular cycles of 1-3 years. When the developer releases a new version, you should check:
- End-of-life date for your current version – end-of-life date means that the developer will no longer sell you more users or printers to the old license after that date. Also, it means they will NOT apply fixes to bugs or compatibility issues.
- New ‘game changer’ features – quickly review the new features. EBI clients should call us if there is a new feature that will make a significant improvement in your system, it might be worth planning to upgrade ASAP.
Upgrading Computer / Server / Database / Hardware
If a computer, server, database, or other hardware needs an upgrade, if often makes sense to upgrade the software as well. Sometimes, companies use extra money in the annual budget to fund these. In most cases, upgrades in equipment and software related to labeling often require reinstall and/or reconfiguration of the labeling software. Why wait for the next software upgrade and then have reinstall and reconfigure all over again?
Pending System Validation / Revalidation
If a system validation (or revalidation) is required, UPGRADE EVERYTHING to the latest-and-greatest first! Most find software validations expensive, difficult, time consuming, and generally painful. Postpone your next validation as far into the future as you can by getting all of the upgrades done now.
Customer / Vendor Upgrade
Do you share label files with your customer or vendors? If they upgrade their labeling software, you will need to upgrade yours too! Most labeling software developers will not allow backwards compatibility with their label files. In other words, if your customer upgrades to LabelSoftBrand v2021 but you still use v2019, you will not be able to print labels saved in v2021. Most developers do support forward compatibility, but even in those cases, you should watch for changes to your label design in the new version. Yes, v2021 can probably open a v2019 label. However, it might look different!
While you cannot put off the software upgrade forever, you can reduce the frequency and trauma of the inevitable. Watch for the events above. Pick the right time. If you time it right, you can stay ahead of the upgrade cycle with minimal time and effort.