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You can't teach old software new tricks

In the most recent release of Synergy Practice Management we added a performance enhancement that means we no longer support Synergy with Microsoft Office 2007 and older.

Microsoft has also discontinued support for Server 2003, which means we don’t support that either. Nor SQL 2005 as it won’t run the latest version of Synergy.

There’s a pattern emerging…

It’s important for you and your business to upgrade software – including Synergy, Microsoft Office, Windows Server, design software, accounting software – to ensure you’re getting the benefits of continued development, ongoing support and compatibility.

We asked around our office for a few thoughts on why upgrading software is important, here’s what we came up with.

“…If you pick applications that don’t continue a development path your business capabilities will not grow as fast as your competitors’…”

The first thing you have to ask yourself is why do you have the software in the first place? For the most part, business software is about productivity. Whether Microsoft Office suite, design applications, accounting software or otherwise, the tools, used properly, are supposed to make you, your team and business, more effective and efficient.

PURSUIT OF PERFECTION

There is no such thing as perfect software. Even if an application does something that makes a huge difference to your working life, it can always be improved and enhanced. Software developers pursue improvements and enhancements to make their products the most desirable ones on the market (usually among stiff competition). If you pick applications that don’t continue a development path your business capabilities will not grow as fast as your competitors’.

Updates can be for amazing new features, incremental performance improvements and bug fixes, or somewhere in between. Synergy, for example, started out as a purely project accounting application (back in 2000) and has since added document management, performance reporting, transmittals and drawing register, contract admin, accounting software connections and more. In the most recent release (4.9.3), one enhancement was using Microsoft Word .DOCX files for templates, which means faster template creation for you. Older versions of Office don’t support .DOCX – if you’re still on aging software like that, then your day-to-day business performance is already affected. Time to upgrade!

Total Synergy - Dog tricks

IS WINDOWS SERVER 2003 REALLY 75 YEARS OLD?

It is in dog years… Technology years are probably quite a bit worse than that, given the speed of change and exponential capability growth.

Aside from its age, there are other reasons we no longer support Server 2003. Synergy e-learning specialist Melanie Bunting says Server 2003 no longer supports the level of SQL required to run Synergy.

“Synergy is developed to take advantage of the latest capabilities of Microsoft SQL [database communications code],” she says.

“A company running Server 2003 will be in a situation where it can’t upgrade to the latest version of Synergy, missing out on bug fixes, performance gains, enhancements and new features.

“We put out updates quite regularly and the most recent update included the switch to using the latest generation of Word template using the .DOCX file type. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the benefit is a significantly faster template load time. Anyone using Office 2007 or older, or using Server 2003, won’t be able to take advantage of this update as their office software can’t run it.”

Synergy will run on SQL 2008 R2, though we recommend SQL 2012.

SUPPORT MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS

Synergy client support consultant Tom Dass says it’s important for clients to understand the difference between Microsoft’s mainstream support and extended support.

“Mainstream support provides fixes, patches, new development and hot fixes released regularly,” he says.

“Extended support is paid support only… in effect, life support.”

Examples of Microsoft software no longer on any kind of support are Server 2003 (support ended in July 2015) and Windows XP (ended in early 2014). SQL 2005, which already won’t run the latest version of Synergy, loses extended support at the end of 2016, but is no longer on mainstream support.

EVERYONE’S DOING IT

That is to say, everyone – other software developers – is updating their software. If you use accounting software like MYOB and Xero, you need to be on support and maintenance with Synergy. Each accounting software vendor updates its own systems regularly, which means we need to update Synergy to ensure it remains compatible. MYOB does this all the time, often without any notice. The first we know is when a client calls to say Connect for MYOB has stopped working. We have to rush through an update to get things back on track.

Total Synergy financial administrator Jenny Peacock says it’s also important to ensure accounting software is up to date to remain inline with ATO regulations.

“If accounting software is not up-to-date then you can run into trouble with the ATO and other government departments,” she says.

“The ATO no longer accepts paper or mail, everything must be electronic, old software is not compatible with their e-commerce environment.”

PICK A WINDOW

Businesses that stay ahead on technology gain many competitive benefits – some good examples are i2C Architects, CHROFI, NGS Consulting Structural Engineers – so it’s important to look at the value of staying up-to-date in business, productivity and competitive terms.

Windows 10 was released just last week promising a remarkable future and new direction for the ubiquitous desktop (and now mobile) operating system. If you haven’t already, perhaps this is a good time to plan technology as a key business strategy and take advantage of the future.

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