No matter what type of software you use, you probably get frequent notifications to update it. This is true for operating systems like Windows and iOS, for apps you use on a daily basis, and even for more advanced software like Asset Performance Management (APM) software

If you’re not familiar with the standards for updating, these near-constant requests for new updates might seem both trivial and annoying. After all, the software appears to be working fine, and when you update, the software (and potentially your entire device) will be rendered unusable for many minutes, and sometimes an hour or more. 

However, most of these updates are vital, and it’s in your best interest to keep all your systems as up-to-date as possible at all times. 

Why Update? 

There are several good reasons to keep all your devices and apps up-to-date: 

* Security. The most important reason to update is to keep your machines and network secure. In any piece of software or hardware, there are inherent vulnerabilities that could be exploited by a cybercriminal skilled enough to find them. Companies and developers are constantly on the lookout for these vulnerabilities internally, and when they find one, they generally release a patch or new version of the software to eliminate those vulnerabilities. Leaving your software or hardware with an older version means these vulnerabilities will still exist—and could be exploited by anyone paying attention to the release schedule. 

* Usability. Though not always the case, many apps introduce new updates to improve usability, either with design changes or structural changes that enable higher efficiency. For example, a developer might weed out some badly written code or old features that are no longer relevant, allowing the program to run faster. Or they might rearrange a menu to make it more intuitive. Either way, a new update will probably make the software easier to use (and faster), increasing your productivity. 

* Features. In some cases, software updates issue new features. For example, it may now be able to connect with another platform, or may provide tools that make your employees’ jobs easier. These won’t always be of immediate use to your business or your employees, but they’re generally worth scoping out. Keeping your software updated ensures you’ll always be aware of and capable of using these features. 

* Compatibility. In some cases, new versions of a program will produce file types that aren’t compatible with older versions, or there may be other compatibility issues that arise—especially if you’ve integrated this software with other types of software in your organization. Keeping all your software up-to-date at all times will minimize potential compatibility issues over time. 

Maintaining Compliance

If you manage a team of employees, you may wonder about the best way to ensure all your devices are up-to-date at all times. After all, it’s hard to know whether every individual in your organization is following the standard best practices for device management. 

You can improve your software updating practices with the following strategies: 

* Employee education. One of the best things you can do is simply educate your employees about the importance of updating software. Employees who are reluctant to update out of apathy, laziness, or disinterest may suddenly have a reason to keep their software updated. Those who object to updates because they like to keep things as familiar and consistent as possible may be harder to convince. 

* Formal policies. Employees who know they “should” update regularly aren’t necessarily going to update regularly. Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to come up with a formal policy that mandates software updates on a consistent schedule. 

* Automatic updates. For the most part, automatic updates are ideal. If you have control over your employees’ devices, you can enable automatic updates by default, so your employees don’t have to think about them—and don’t have to take the manual action of updating their systems. These days, you can usually time the updates so they occur in the background when you aren’t actively using the device, making them even more convenient. 

* Observe and notify of new updates. Pay attention to the release schedules of developers whose software you use on a regular basis. Whenever a new update comes out, send a mass email to your employees and notify them of the changes. This will prompt any stragglers to get their devices updated, and will help to normalize the process of updating for the rest of your team. 

If you can keep every device and every app in your organization updated, you’ll not only keep your business safe from cyber vulnerabilities—you’ll also improve your team’s performance at the same time. 

Make sure you implement policies and practices to keep your devices and software up-to-date at all times.