Is older software slowing down your company?

Mallory Merrill


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Many companies have “growing pains” when it comes to their software. Sometimes this is because the company has grown too large or too fast. Sometimes it’s because the company grew in different, unexpected directions, and the software doesn’t match the new way things are done. And sometimes it’s just the case that the software was never that great a solution, to begin with.

Below are some symptoms of outdated software solutions. See if you can spot some of these in your business.

  • Spreadsheet workarounds. Your employees spend a lot of time working on spreadsheets, manipulating data for processes that could theoretically be automated.

  • Extensive formatting work. There is significant time spent on finessing/formatting content in easily predictable ways. (For example: formatting similar content for different web pages or layouts.)

  • Data bottlenecks. Even though the data you want to analyze is present, it is surprisingly difficult to “pull out” and use.

  • Lack of buy-in/use. Despite your best efforts and incentivizing, the software is not widely used in your organization. This alone can be a sign that it is not very useful.

  • Security concerns. Outdated software can lead to greater concern about confidential data being exposed, whether customer data or internal data.

  • Demand for more accessible cloud-based solutions. Your software is on-premises, and your customers or your employees desire more freedom in how they access and use your data or services.


Problems with “legacy” custom software

The above symptoms can be problems even when a company uses custom software. Even custom software becomes outdated eventually. This “legacy” software, as it’s often called, eventually needs to be either replaced or “refurbished” with some new, up-to-date features and compatibilities.

What happens in many cases is that a company doesn’t want to change things because they paid for a system that was built especially for them. This can lead to some inertia or delay in improving or replacing the software--even more inertia than if they’d paid the same amount for an off-the-shelf (non-custom) solution. This is equivalent to, as they say, “throwing good money after bad.”

The cost of suboptimal software

A suboptimal software can add dramatic inefficiencies and costs to your business in the form of spreadsheet work, data analysis, data/content formatting, security procedures, and numerous another manual, time-intensive steps.

It can be easy or tempting to overlook seemingly small inefficiencies. But you should try to honestly analyze the real costs of those inefficiencies when considered over the long term.

Custom software solutions

These days, there are numerous software development companies, also referred to as “dev teams” or “dev shops.” These teams can have different specialties; some are great at PHP, some with shopping cart solutions, some specialize in cloud-based software-as-a-service solutions, some are more jack-of-all-trades.

No matter what kind of software solutions your company uses, chances are there are solutions at several price points for ways to improve your operations. For example, if you don’t wish to replace an entire software system you currently use, you can hire a dev shop to update or add supplemental features to improve that system and get it working better for you.

Some companies make the mistake of thinking that software is “all or nothing,” or that improvement will necessarily be very difficult and expensive. But in reality, software solutions are not some monolithic structure; they’re usually just a series of systems. Add-ons and supplements are almost always possible.


Real-world examples

DevSquad is a software development company based in Utah. Below are a few real-world examples showing how we’ve helped some of our clients with custom software improvements, whether new systems or updates to existing systems:

Thom K Hall is a financial advisory company. Their problem: they were spending too much time with spreadsheets, looking data up on many systems and platforms. They hired us to replace all those spreadsheets with a single web application. We built the app to connect with many other applications in the background using an API, so now the process is much more automated and they can access all of the features from a single place.

Blueline Services: A company that does background checks and drug tests, with a network of more than 3000 clinics. They were using an expensive, outdated off-the-shelf desktop software, which didn’t do 50% of the things they needed. Not only that, the system was on-premises, so could only be accessed at the office. They hired us to replace that software with a custom web application that was located “on the cloud,” so it could be accessed anywhere.

Wasatch Home Health:  oversees more than 400 caregivers, each of whom visits many patients daily. Their problem: their employees were wasting a lot of time filling out paperwork. They hired us to build them a mobile/tablet app, so that they could go paperless and their employees could do their paperwork on a tablet. We also added many other features, like scheduling and a GPS location tracker.

Paramount tax: franchised their business and needed a way to run 200 CPA offices and track activity, especially revenue so that they could get accurate, efficient payments. We helped them create this business-tracking software.

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