The Upgrade Problem

Creating Passionate Users: Why they don’t upgrade (and what to do about it)
(image from Kathy Sierra’s post at Creating Passionate Users)

Upgrading software can be one of the most difficult and painful processes going – especially for library system upgrades. I cringe even thinking about the next upgrade. I admit to being one of the types who likes to upgrade early. I like to get it out of the way so that I can deal with the problems rather than waiting and waiting to upgrade so that I can worry about the problems that will happen later. Others prefer to wait, thinking that bugs may get ironed out and as such, hope for a smoother upgrade. I’m not sure which method is best – it might depend on the users and their tolerance. With this in mind, I was really struck by this post by Kathy Sierra from Creating Passionate Users. I like the graphic above – and what it says about one of the reasons why people don’t upgrade. She has a tremendous point that just when people feel comfortable with a system and how it works, the company changes everything with an upgrade that is billed as “better.” After an upgrade, users often get frustrated and may think that they “suck” because they can’t figure out how to do things the used to be able to do quite easily. Kathy writes: “People don’t upgrade because they don’t want to move back into the “Suck Zone.””

As a system administrator who is responsible for doing the upgrades, I hadn’t really considered people’s apprehension about upgrading from this angle – but it makes a great deal of sense. Keeping up with technology and technological change is hard – and harder for some people than for others. This makes me think that upgrading should really be a more seemless process. Enhancements should be able to introduced slowly, rather than all at once. Upgrades shouldn’t change existing configurations unless an institution or user wants them to change. The end user should be able to pick and choose how to use enhancements and changes. As I mentioned before, I think that upgrades to ILS software can be particularly painful for library staff – and would benefit from a process where library staff had a bit more participation and control.

Anyway, I’m glad that I recently upgraded our ILS software – which means that I don’t have to worry about the next one for a while.

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