I'm sitting in the New Zealand Air lounge in Auckland on my way back to the States after a couple weeks on the road presenting at the Australian and New Zealand SharePoint Conferences, thinking about a recurring theme from both conferences: is it necessary to upgrade to the latest version?
Obviously, this is not a question that is unique to the SharePoint realm, but is certainly a topic that is popping up more and more as software developers are moving to an online deployment model. In case you haven't been paying attention, the traditional software release cycle is dead. No longer can a company release a product on a rigid multi-year schedule. Major release cycles have moved to annual, semi-annual, or quarterly cadences. Minor releases could be deployed weekly, or even daily, depending on the product or service. How enterprise software is delivered is shifting from in-store purchase where you take CDs out of shrink-wrapped boxes to a pure online model where you install once, and updates come automatically.
My primary topic on this trip was on how to get the most out of SharePoint 2010 -- the previous version of the platform. With most presenters tackling the latest, greatest that Redmond had to offer, this topic has been very successful for me, with my New Zealand session attracting the largest non-keynote audience of the week. At the beginning and at the close of my talk, I tried to comfort those who have no current plans to move to SP2013 by telling them there is no need….unless there is a need.
The problem with chasing the latest version is much the same as a cell phone ringing. No matter what we are doing, even if we are standing there talking to a customer, we feel the need to answer that phone. We are compelled in some sort of pavlovian trance to feel guilty about not having the newest release of whatever it is we are using.
What we need to do is to clarify what is needed from what is wanted -- understand our business requirements, and view all new releases through that lens of understanding. Will the new version give you the business capability you require? Does it fill a gap? Will it increase productivity in a measurable way? If not, it may make sense to stay where you are.
Just thinking out loud...