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The Laggard Dilemma: Understanding Why Incremental Upgrades Are Less Painful

Let me start this post with an adjunct: I am NOT an iPhone user – yet.  I’ve been hanging on to my Blackberry 8130 since, oh, I don’t know – all the way back to 2009?  It’s the phone that my customers and prospects reach me on every day.  Now, just to make you all comfortable, since I am in the technology space, I also have an HTC Droid for personal use which is only 18 months old and by tech standards is aging quickly. So don’t judge me on my ancient Blackberry is what I’m saying.

So.

Why do I bring this up?  I find I’m asking myself the same question most of my customers ask me when a new release of PeopleSoft comes: why should I upgrade to the latest release?  I’ve heard all sorts of business reasons why customers chose to stay on their current release – some are still going strong on 8.4 and 8.8 Financials, a few are still on 7.5!  Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that many of my clients are in line to get the new iPhone or Droid when it is released. This creates a bit of cognitive dissonance with me.

I’ve heard – ‘if it isn’t broken, why fix it?’, ‘we don’t see any new functionality that we need’ (love that one!), ‘our environment is stable, an upgrade is very disrupting’.  I’ve also heard from clients who have upgraded from 7.5 or 8.3/8.4 to 9.0 or 9.1 and are concerned because the user adoption is low.

Don’t get me wrong, an ERP upgrade can be a challenge and it does take commitment from the executives to the end user, but I really think it is very similar to moving to new personal-type technology such as the iPhone.  My colleague, David Scott, blogged about his own personal experience of trying to get his new phone to act like his old phone.  (That post is here, in case you missed it.)

Here’s why upgrading is important:  the end user pain is less with incremental steps.  It really is THAT simple.  Is there a price or value you can put on that?  Probably not.  But PeopleSoft HCM 9.0 was GA in December 2006, 9.1 was GA in September 2009.  Sort of like my Blackberry.   The jump for me to either the new iPhone or Droid will be — ahem — interesting and my colleagues know to stay clear of me while I adjust because most days, it just ain’t pretty.  My life and frustration level would be lessened had I made the incremental moves in technology.

Regular upgrading is valuable because the incremental pain and end user resistance are far less than larger, wholesale changes. This is a huge part of the stigma of large ERP upgrades.

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