Tales of an IT Professional – Windows 98

Craig SharpIT support isn’t just technology support; it’s business support. That’s because using IT as a strategic asset can differentiate your company and increase your profits. That's the mantra I stick by and use as the yardstick for all my conversations with clients. The key............. Good IT will result in Good Business.

So, you can imagine my surprise and shock when a new enquiry reached Abussi from a prospect who initially outlined a need to update their IT hardware including a server. On the surface it was a straightforward job with new PC's, Server and a refresh of software. However, it turned out not to be as simple as first thought.

The prospect advised me that the new PC's must run Windows 98. "Why" was my reply, "well" said the prospect "we have this invoicing software that was setup by a guy that doesn't work for us anymore and it only runs on Windows 98. We have a Windows XP machine but that won't run the software and the remaining PC's running Windows 98 are dropping like flies". I thought about this for a moment and replied "well I think the key issue here is to look at the software and sort it out first, rather than try to just keep Windows 98 running indefinitely".

What the prospect was facing is an issue which I see all too often. Software, written or installed by an individual (not an off the shelf product) and which is 'bespoke'. Great for the first 12-24 months while the person that installed it is around and able to help; bad 15 years later (yes, the prospect said it must have been in place around 15 years!) when the installer or designer is no longer around.

In this case I'm going to look at the software and see what it is before making any further suggestions. I guess its probably some kind of linked Excel spreadsheet(s) or perhaps a bespoke MS Access 97 database, but the key is that this software is hindering the prospects ability to use IT effectively and thus it's stopping them from being efficient, productive and responsive to new orders.

The lesson for us all here is clear. Independent advice, from IT professionals that understand your business and its needs both now and in the future. Technical people are great and they can certainly fix broken computers, but my experience shows me that they fail to look at the business need, and it's this which is far more important.


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