It wasn’t until his old operating system got the better of him that Dr. Roger Roubal finally upgraded his software for his dental practice in Omaha to Dentrix G4, a system that hit the dental industry in 2009. Dr. Roubal is one of the thousands of business owners who do not upgrade their software until the very last moment, often because they fear the change.
“We just got a new operating software in our office, and my office manager and I really dragged our feet for a long time,” Dr. Roubal said. “We hadn’t updated it for years. We finally ran into some problems with our computers being slow and problems with data, so I said, ‘You know what? It’s time to pull the trigger,’ and she said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do it!’”
Anxiety over technological upgrades is not uncommon among business owners, especially when they see the price tag. New upgrades often come with bugs and issues that businesses do not have the time to work around, and many times, the expense exceeds the available budget. Technological upgrades are generally a good idea for most businesses; however, whether the costs outweigh the benefits really depends on the particular type of upgrade.
Technology is Your Friend
Remember when fax machines were the height of technological upgrades? Faxes helped boost communications between businesses by allowing the transfer of important documents from business to business and from business to home. As fax machines entered more offices, companies saved money normally spent on document deliveries. This also holds true for the copier, scanner, printer, and even the computer. Upgrading technology can be a helpful business strategy.
Dr. Roubal’s upgrade to G4 allowed him the same conveniences as general upgrades can for businesses.
“Some of the things the new software does, the old software didn’t do, or we were having to do manually,” he said. “Things as simple as: the old software didn’t have Spell Checker on it, or the way we do our notes. We have to keep copious notes because we have a sleep and TMD practice, so we had no templates. It’s just so much easier [now] to just look at the notes and to correct them or sign off on them, and I didn’t have any of that capability before, and it was much more tedious; so it saves us a lot of time. I think it’s more efficient and more time-saving and less chance for error.”
Buying the upgrade to any system can make business life easier and more productive, and the savings can make up for the price of the upgrade.
Is it a Good Time to Upgrade?
There are downsides to upgrading technology, especially when businesses upgrade right after the new software hits the shelves. Sometimes upgrades come with defects and ‘bugs’ in the system, which can lead to greater expenses and more wasted time.
“I think it was wise that we held off for a while because the first few versions [of G4] had a lot of bugs in them, and then, now that we’ve waited, they really got the bugs out and it works really well,” Dr. Roubal said.
Some software upgrades can also come with applications that businesses won’t use, giving consumers more of a hesitation to purchase a much needed upgrade. Dr. Roubal has had this problem with his new Dentrix program.
“There are a lot of features on it that are more amenable to a general practice than what we’re doing,” he said. “In a general practice, if you’re doing a general practice, there’s a lot of patient educational things on there now and all kinds of neat things, but that’s not what I do anymore.”
When dealing with technological upgrades, money is the biggest factor. Sometimes, when businesses buy their upgrades early, they suffer through bugs and waste valuable time. Often, they don’t make up the money fast enough; while others who wait too long for software also waste time and ultimately lose money, depending on the type of business.
“I think we probably waited a little bit too long,” Dr. Roubal said. “We probably missed out on the price and the productivity with some of the new features; so I’m glad that we did it when we did it. We should have done it maybe a year ago.”
The key to making the switch may lie with Gordon Moore, late co-founder of Intel, who proposed that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every two years. This was termed Moore’s Law and means that roughly every two years a new upgrade for your system may very well take effect, though not always. This also means that the price for your upgrade will get cheaper as time passes, until the new software enters the stores. There is a time within the two years that upgrades will be at the optimal price – before the new software and after the bugs are fixed – which is usually about six months to a year after production.
Software can Boost your Business
Investing in new hardware and software can increase productivity, up your profits, and give you more time to concentrate on clients, payroll, and everything else that keeps your business running smoothly.
“I don’t know if it’s going to affect our bottom line, but I know it affects my timeline,” Dr. Roubal comments. “Time is important to me, you know? You’re busy. You don’t want to waste any time that you don’t have to, and this just enables me to be more efficient. So that means I don’t have to spend as much time at the end of the day reviewing notes and things like that.”
Since the writing of this article, the makers of Dentrix, Henry Schein, have released another new version of the software. Dr. Roubal plans to make the upgrade, hopefully sooner rather than later.