The importance of keeping software updated
Making Tax Digital is just around the corner, and it’s impending arrival has caused many businesses to re-evaluate the capabilities of their software. Once more they must answer one of the most common, basic, and important questions asked in the current technological era: Is it up to date?
Long story short
Making Tax Digital (MTD) is a new initiative by the government that will require VAT-registered businesses to digitally submit VAT returns, and keep digital VAT business records using MTD – compliant software. This regulation will have a varying impact on companies, but the ones that may find themselves in the most trouble are those who chose to neglect updating their IT. Below we will discuss the importance of keeping software updated, and why ignoring those constant reminders can come back to haunt you.
The advantages of being current with IT
In today’s constantly evolving business environment, all conceivable aspects from record keeping, to administration, to sales are shifting more and more to a digital format; bringing along many benefits such as reduced costs, better marketing, and improved management. However, since so much highly important data is being kept, the risks of losing it due to theft or hardware/software failure is just as great and either one occurrence could be a fatal impact to any business. Updates serve to mitigate both these problems.
Greater product reliability and support
Not only do updates help prevent malicious attacks to your systems, but they will lower the chance of fatal crashes that might cause a loss of vital data. By allowing regular updates to occur, a consumer can rely on a product to operate reliably and efficiently. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that support for older IT products does not last forever. When it comes to receiving official help, being up to date means that if anything does go wrong with a piece or software or hardware you can have the accompanying up to date expert support.
Reduced risk of data theft
While a businesses grows, valuable data will accumulate. In turn, hackers will do what they can to try steal it, with software developers improving their data protection in response. Look out for these changes and implement them. Cyber security is a constant race where a business that doesn’t do what they can to keep up has an increased risk of a harmful security breach.
However, it cannot be forgotten that the business’ are not the only ones in danger; if the personal information of clients is being kept then a firm is obligated to ensure those are safe. Details like emails, addresses, bank account numbers, and more could be exposed due to a lax approach in updating not just dedicated security programs but software on a whole.
Stay relevant in the market
Missing out on updates can put you at a huge disadvantage due to the speed at which technology can progress. Being left behind may leave users with an inferior product that puts them below competitors, and also means a business is not getting the full value possible out of an IT product. Furthermore, a situation where you are lacking a service or functionality needed to fulfill a request by a customer should be avoided, whenever and wherever. Another potential drawback is that as more and more updates get passed by, a software could have progressed to a stage where the time and monetary investment required to catch up has become very large.
Receive the best functionality possible
The final benefit worth discussion in regard to IT system updates is that – as is normal for any competitive product in a market – constant improvements are necessary to stay relevant and desirable. In the case of computing software and hardware, additional features or more powerful specifications are the usual upgrades that can be expected. These advancements could allow a business to perform certain jobs faster and easier, saving them time and money. Even enable them to do things not before possible or get a leg-up on competitors; culminating in greater business growth.
A perspective look at the importance of updates in practice
Consider the earlier mentioned Making Tax Digital. To re-iterate, it will require VAT-registered businesses to digitally submit VAT returns, and keep digital VAT business records using MTD – compliant software. This means that accounting software companies such as Sage 200, Pegasus Opera 3, Access Financials and many others have had to quickly develop updates adjusting to the new regulation, lest they be left behind by competitors or dropped by clients.
Here’s the kicker though: due to the nature of such updates, the MTD change that rolls out(most likely a patch) will only be accessible through the most recent version of whichever software it applies to. The result is that affected businesses must now resolve one primary question about their systems: Am i running the most up to date version to receive the MTD change?
This question might seem simple but in truth it is not one but three concerning software, operating system, and hardware. All three come together to form one complete computing unit, where under-performance in any part can have immediate effects on the others and they must collectively be up to date within a certain range.
Firstly consider that dedicated accounting/business management software typically governs a large amount of important data and depending on the size of the corporation, can have tens or hundreds of active users; all of which will have to be updated. That in itself lends to costing a lot of time and money, but it can also scale higher or lower depending on factors like how up to date they already are or whether everyone is using the same software version. In the worst case a whole new set of software will have to be purchased.
Secondly, is to do with operating system. It is not uncommon for long standing businesses to have remained on older operating system versions because of one reason or another. With the above case about size having been the factor for some. This can again present massive cost because operating system licences are expensive and the upgrade process typically involves needing to backup and transfer data from the old to the new.
Lastly, the hardware side must be considered. In an extreme situation older hardware might not have high enough system specifications to run a newer operating system.
Evidently, a business must avoid a situation where all three major components require large scale improvements, and it all comes down to being regular with evaluating your IT systems and performing updates when possible.
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