We hear it often.
“Our DMS isn’t broken, so why fix it?”
“Our DMS is finicky when it comes to upgrades, so now’s not the time.”
“Our DMS is stable right now, I don’t want to change it.”
All these statements are good for is maintaining the status quo. Or, at least, that’s what they appear to be doing. What if things change? What if a VIP (Very Important Partner) comes into your office with a new Surface Book running Windows 10, and wants to use the DMS on their new device? Will it work? Here are a few reasons to keep your DMS up to date.
As alluded to in the VIP example above, the first reason to keep your DMS up to date is about compatibility. Currently, all major DMS vendors require their latest release to be fully compatible and supported on Windows 10 and Office 2016. You want to be prepared. You don’t always have to roll out a new DMS client, but you should be preparing for the upcoming wave of Windows 10 and Office 2016 pressure by upgrading your DMS backend to the latest version. This will allow you plenty of time to test the updated DMS client, and have a build ready for these new Windows 10 tablets.
Stability and Performance
The longer a software version is out there in the world, the more bugs and defects are discovered. Some of these bugs may lead to data corruption or security vulnerabilities. The status quo may be fine, until something changes and the status quo isn’t so quo anymore. We recently had a firm enable a new email retention policy. In preparation for that change, the user community started filing emails into the DMS at a much higher volume than ever before. This overloaded the DMS’s email filing system and exposed a defect that ended up crashing the server over and over again. The email filing service was about 4 releases old. If they were running an updated version, they never would have had the issue. It’s hard to quantify these kinds of things. How do you know that being proactive with updates helped you avoid a problem? All it takes is learning the hard way once.
Each new release of software contains bug fixes and may contain performance improvements. Be sure to review any Release Notes and see if any of the resolved issues would affect your environment. However, keep in mind that your users may be experiencing these bugs and either not noticing, or just not telling you.
New Features and Options
Often overlooked in new releases are new features and configuration options. Perhaps it is a registry key that can slightly change behavior to better suit expectations. Perhaps it’s a new tab or menu option that makes it easier to view certain information about documents or folders. Perhaps it’s a new integration into other workflow and information governance systems in the environment. These new features are generally described in a versions Release Notes, and this is another reason to stay informed about new releases. These updates also give you the opportunity to introduce new modules. Perhaps introducing mobile access and advanced email management makes sense, due to some new features and enhancements to these functions.
As with any update, you will want to approach DMS patches carefully. Ideally, you will have a development server and database that can be patched and fully tested, prior to patching your production systems. If you don’t have that luxury, remember to fully review all associated documentation, and ensure you have a backup of your server and database just in case of any issues. After applying the update, review logs and test all required functionality — opening, saving, searching, etc.
We’ve seen great stability in the recent updates by the major DMS vendors. In recent years, releases have been better QA’d and haven’t caused major issues. The idea of the DMS upgrade disasters or being “finicky” about patch updates either relies on old data points or perhaps an integrator not being familiar enough with the product.