How long do you use your current versions of software?
It seems there is always some update, some new thing that needs to be loaded and installed. Have you noticed?
Have you measured what it costs to update versus not? How many machines do you have – one or one hundred?
In one of my previous employments, we ended up with a full-time IT guy who worked nocturnally. He did all he needed to do when no one was around, having things ready when we all came to work the next day. And he ended up needing an assistant! I remember when an architectural firm’s needs were limited to clean and working drafting equipment, clean pens (anyone remember vibrating pen cleaners?), and having lots of scummex on hand. No longer. Sometimes it appears our software owns us.
Are you going to the Cloud? Why? Because it was your idea and you can’t wait? Or is it because the software product is pushing you there.
What happens if – no, when – you lose internet connectivity?
My point is, it’s all getting complicated.
And with this complication comes the need to simplify.
If you cannot diagram your IT world and how you use it, you need to. This can be a chart or a spreadsheet – something that makes sense to you and the others in your office. Something that your IT guy can reference when he is called in to help.
It’s a frustratingly numbing process, but it’s vital to begin and maintain. Our record of licenses change at the software provider’s pleasure and it’s never just one piece of information to keep. License codes, authorization keys, email records of activations, user/ account records, versions past and present, machines these softwares are being used on, what virtual account the software was purchased on – and, of course, passwords. The list goes on.
For example, when you look at a computer today, if you see a simple operating system and let’s say 5 software programs, you are probably looking at a user account that has at LEAST the following:
1. a username
4. probably credit card info as well ( with name, billing info, security code, card number – all the stuff the bad guys are looking for). This is just to get the OS purchased and running…
Now add 5 software programs that also need:
1. a user account
2. email account
4. license code
5. authorization Code
7. I’m sure I’m missing something…
Seven components of vital information regarding ONE account of software. Multiply by 5 and you get 35 items, plus at least 4 for the OS…39 items of vital information to maintain ONE COMPUTER…how many computers do you have in your design world?
Add my little friend, the virtual machine, and all this compounds into multiples of the above – for ONE MACHINE.
The take away?
Keep records of everything regarding your software.
Have a system that tracks the information of purchase, install, and update. If the software developers decide to update things (do you let this happen automatically? Oops!) you start to lose your handle on EVERYTHING regarding your software licenses.. There really should be an app for this. If you know of one let me know.
Numbers spreadsheets, in fact.
Software companies update (“to serve you better”) at their discretion – not on your schedule. How often do we receive an email to update our programs?
The anniversary of your license subscription purchase.
New version launch.
“Bug fixes” (this covers a gamut of things they really don’t want to share with you).
All provided – forced on you in an automatic update – without regard for the other softwares you are using. Provided without knowing details of the compatibilities of the other softwares you are using. Of course, they have no knowledge of what you’re using. But you do.
Manage your software. Only YOU know it best in your process, your flow, your deadlines.
Did I say never update before a deadline? NEVER DO THIS.
Manage your software – updates, installs, accounts, versions, account locations, or do not at your peril.
Protect your software – always save .exe files or .dmg files within your system so you don’t rely on the software companies to save legacy versions for you.
In the old days you kept your scales and triangles clean, your drafting table surface dent-free, and your pens clean and unclogged – for good reason. Treat your software no differently.
As David Wagner reminded me 34 years ago, Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show said, “Take care of your things and your things will take care of you.”
Remember this. Live it.