Software update: Replace Windows 8 now – easy and without drama

Currently, the reminder is on many calendars: The end of support for Windows 8 will hit many companies in January 2023.

Software update and Windows replacement without stress – can only professionals do that, supported by numerous consultants? We show the three sections of successful experts from IT, EAM and process management and explain how you can ensure a stress-free time for the changeover with little effort in good time.

Software update, migration, replacement – managing outdated software is considered by many companies and IT managers to be a costly, unpleasant duty. A lot of effort, often more costs, and all that just to be able to perform the often same activity with a new software version? Not for nothing do people squirm around the topic and no one really wants to get started. But the clock is ticking – in the current context of Windows 8, there are now exactly 12 months to go. But of course the list is longer – where do you start?

The new simplicity – a step-by-step approach

It can actually be easy to replace software and do everything along the way to ensure there are no surprises. The following basics from enterprise architecture and IT service management can help:

  1. Determine what software is actually in use.
  2. Identify the scope of change and ensure compatibility.
  3. Roadmapping with KeyUsers and Hypercare Phase (Intensive Support after Go-Live)

We’ll show you how to perform these activities in a streamlined, targeted, and repeatable manner, so you can work toward replacement day with ease.

1. Software actually used and its process support

Every company owns and operates more software than is actually needed for its business processes. But most of the time, no one knows exactly what impact it can have to uninstall, update or replace software. This costs money and time, because often no one knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Start with these points and work through them successively:

  • Sit down at a table with the team or department managers in the company and have them explain to you which software is used in the respective area – and for what.
  • Take 1/3 of the employees from this area and look over their shoulders as they work. This way you will learn even more.
  • Ask what happens to the result of the work in the end – who uses it, where it goes or who depends on it.

The result: A list of software and its users, as well as an overview of where in the company more than one department works with a software. When presenting this list, identify 2-3 key users, i.e. employees who constantly work with the software and can be approached as experts. They can also provide helpful tips to understand what data is actually being generated, processed and used in the software. If there is also a process manager in your company, he or she will certainly be happy to hold their “real-life” information up against the documented and often outdated company processes for once. Step 1 is done: You know which software is actually used.

2. Change scopes, changelogs and migration plans

The art of replacing software is to pay much less attention to the complexity of the technology than to the functionality. For the technology, you get IT on board, which will thank you for really only dealing with the operation and a test of the update. For the functionality, you have your key users, because no one knows better. They are now allowed to test on separate systems with the new version to see if they notice any change at all and if everything works. As soon as something is noticeable here, you recognize the direct impact on the work of the employees. Because if you manage to detect blockages, malfunctions and incompatibilities in advance, they are virtually already on the finish line!

  • Every change that is noticed by key users is entered in a technical changelog for the department. Up to 90% of the time, only technical change logs are kept, but the business experts can’t do anything with them.
  • In coordination with the manufacturer, IT and the specialist department, it is checked whether it is just a different button, menu or complete functional scope. In the case of updates such as from Windows 8 to Windows 10, test systems help to check whether everything remains the same.
  • Smaller changes can be communicated through training, while functional changes require an expert evaluation – for example, whether the software should perhaps explicitly not be updated and replaced by another product.
  • If software does not run on Windows 10, the manufacturer must be involved. For tricky situations, there are ways to deploy software in virtual environments like Windows 8 that the program doesn’t notice the difference. This saves you time.

3. Roadmaps as a roadmap – good for nerves and business

After a few months, you’ve reached this final step and can start looking at the expense of the changeover or update. Together with IT, you first evaluate how the change will come to the computers. In the example of switching to Windows 10, it may be an overnight update, or replacing the PC right away. Then even the Windows 8 machine is still in stock if there really are problems. In the case of applications, there is either the option of rolling them out centrally by IT or, fortunately only rarely, manually at the workplace due to dependencies with peripherals such as production machines. Knowing these is a big advantage!

  • Form groups of employees from different departments who will be the first to work with the new software. Never roll out the new software to everyone at the same time – even if there have been no problems in all tests and checks.
  • Make sure there are permanent support contacts, both professional and technical. This hypercare team is on call for the first few days and immediately available when problems arise.
  • Schedule the groups, updates, and support each on a timeline and in a common chart. Google Image Search will find numerous graphical examples on the topic of “roadmap.” Create this plan as roughly as possible, and only as finely as necessary. Nobody loves complexity, and if you manage to create an understandable picture with temporality and perimeters, you’ve won.

After the update is before the update – learning is important

If you have taken the impulses shown here to heart and have mastered a successful replacement, there are certainly still some things that were not on the plan and turned out differently than you thought. Use key users, IT and process experts to capture the mood and learn from each other – so that things work out even better next time. Because the manufacturer of the software you are using now is already thinking about the next version!

Philipp Schneidenbach ist Experte auf den Gebieten Enterprise Architecture, Governance, Risk und Compliance. In seiner derzeitigen Position bei Materna vereint er die Erfahrung aus mehr als 25 Jahren Beratung und Linienverantwortung in verschiedenen Industriezweigen und Märkten. Als Autor, Researcher und Speaker engagiert er sich unter anderem in Organisationen und Berufsverbänden wie der IEEE, ISACA und MoreThanDigital.

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