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Time to PlanFor better or worse (and usually a little of both!), technology is constantly changing. As you’ve read in our previous posts, such upgrades are affecting Windows users as Microsoft phases out support on its XP operating system. Hopefully by now we’ve convinced you to make the switch to a new operating system, and provided you with what you need to know about your upgrade options. Now it’s time to get down to brass tacks – what do you need to do to prepare?

Research your options

Your agency is unique and you know your needs better than anyone, so only you can determine the best move for your agency’s success. This doesn’t mean refusing to get advice from tech experts, but it does mean taking all advice in the context of your agency’s needs and culture. As you look at the different operating system options, take in to account your agency’s size and current software needs. Look at pricing, including what you may need to invest in hardware to keep up with your upgrade (more about this below).

Finally, think about your staff. If you have a techie bunch that is excited about getting the latest technology, you might want to look at the most recent operating systems. However, if your staff is already nervous about learning a new system, you might want to look at a smaller step in your upgrade.

Ensure system compatibility

We’ve touched on this in previous posts, and its importance merits expansion. Once you have an idea of the system your agency needs, it is imperative to ensure all your current software and hardware is compatible. You can do this by calling your software’s providers and checking up. If you’re upgrading to a new Windows, chances are your software will comply, but you may need to install patches or upgrade to the latest version.

The same is true with your agency’s computers and printers. Especially if you plan to switch to a system outside of the Microsoft family, you should check system requirements first. If you’re switching to a more recent Windows, the best way to be sure all hardware and software is compatible is to check with Microsoft. Microsoft support is available to answer questions and provide hands on help with any issues.

Back up your data

It cannot be stressed enough that your agency should back up all data, not only before changing operating systems, but on a consistent basis. We recommend cloud storage for a consistent back-up system as cloud apps have a larger storage capacity than any external hard drive and will automatically back-up your files on a consistent basis. Whether or not you’re using a cloud system, ensure all your files are backed up somewhere before your switch.

The most important files to back up are those tied to your agency management system. Client and accounting files are important and confidential and you can’t afford to lose them. Check with your agency management system to see if it has back-up abilities, and if not be sure you take care of these files. Even with a professionals’ help, glitches can happen, so it’s best to ensure all your data is safe at an external location before moving it from one operating system to another.

Allow for a learning curve

No matter how techie your agency may be, there will be a learning curve as you switch to a new operating system. Microsoft recommends allowing over a year for your agency to get used to a new system, meaning your transition time will be substantial. Keep in mind that transition is gradual, and although it won’t bring your agency’s operations to a halt, it may add a little extra time to normal tasks     till you’ve learned the ropes.

If switching to a new Windows system, it is a good idea to have a few point people attend Microsoft training so they can be a resource to your staff. If you have an IT staff, it is best to send these individuals to training. You can also find online tutorials and may even be able to find local training at a lower rate. The goal is to educate yourself and your staff so your transition can go a little smoother.

As you prepare to upgrade your operating system, you should start thinking about your agency’s systems and structures and whether or not they are able to adapt to change. As new technology is introduced at a faster pace, it is important to have malleable systems that can easily adapt to technological upgrades.

This is especially true for your agency management system, and we at SIS have given Partner XE this malleability. We take in to account user suggestions along with the changing face of technology to ensure XE stays on top of the game and is ready to take on the latest upgrades. To find out about how XE keeps up with your agency’s needs, contact us at 800.747.9273 or sales@sisware.com.

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