9 top tips for smooth software updates

In the UK public sector, staying up to date isn’t a choice – it’s a necessity. Digital transformation is constantly evolving along with the needs, wants and expectations of the population. Healthcare and NHS, local government, housing, education and police organisations strive to stay ahead of the curve in order to improve the experience of their service users.

For this very reason, it’s incredibly important to ensure you’re running the latest versions of your digital transformation software. Software updates often include security patches that safeguard your system against emerging threats. They also address bugs, leading to improved system stability, and they often contain tweaks that ensure your systems stay aligned with the latest compliance standards. These elements are especially vital in public sector environments, where the constant processing of sensitive data is commonplace and uninterrupted operations are essential.

Updates aren’t just about ticking boxes, fixing bugs and staying secure though. They also introduce new features and functionalities, providing your organisation with all the latest and greatest digital transformation capabilities. Not only do delayed updates cause you to miss out, but they also prevent you from making the most of your investment. Plus, staying up to date makes it easier to stay up to date. The longer you go without updating, the bigger the task will be when you do finally come to installation.

However, promptly installing every update release is easier said than done – particularly in vast public sector environments, processing high volumes of transactions round the clock. Installing updates can be challenging, but there are ways to streamline the process. In this edition of Hot Topics, we’re sharing nine top tips for smooth software updates.

1. Prioritise pre-update prep

  • Backup data: Before installing any update, ensure you have a robust data backup strategy in place. This protects critical information should unexpected issues crop up during the update process.
  • Review compatibility: Verify that the latest version of the software is compatible with your existing infrastructure, including hardware, operating systems, and third-party integrations. If not, engage with your software provider. Got a compatibility issue as an NDL customer? Get in touch.

2. Thoroughly review release notes

  • Understand changes: Take the time to read any release notes provided by your software provider. You’ll be able to find these in the product download hub if you’re an NDL customer. These insights will help you make the most of new features, improvements, and changes that the update introduces

3. Notify users

  • Let your teams know: When you’re ready to install an update, make sure to notify all stakeholders, including users and IT teams. Clearly communicate the benefits and potential changes they can expect. This can save a lot of time spent on support in the long run.

4. Test in a controlled environment

  • Test environment: Set up a controlled testing environment to simulate the update and assess its impact on existing processes. Address any issues before implementing the update in the live environment.

5. Notify control boards

  • State your case: Many public sector organisations need approval from control boards before installing updates. A poor change request can significantly impact the update process. Remember to make update benefits clear to the control board, including details such as:

- Security fixes – justifying the need for timely installation

- New features – demonstrating the update’s value

- Test environment findings – proving your confidence

6. Plan for downtime and user training

  • Schedule downtime: Coordinate the update installation during off-peak hours to minimise disruption. Public sector operations often run 24/7, so plan strategically.
  • Offer training: If necessary, in the event of major updates, prepare training materials and sessions to help users acclimate to the new features and functionalities. Your software provider might also be able to help with this – if you’re an NDL customer, consider the NDL Academy.

7. Monitor and address issues

  • Post-update monitoring: Continuously monitor system performance after the update. Address any unexpected issues promptly to ensure smooth operations.

8. Engage with support

  • Support channels: Maintain open lines of communication with your software provider's support team. Seek assistance if you encounter challenges during the installation process. If you’re an NDL customer, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the helpdesk or raise a ticket through the service request portal.

9. Document the update process

  • Change control: Keep a detailed record of the update process, including steps taken, issues encountered, and solutions applied. Clearly record what was updated and when. This documentation proves invaluable for future reference.

In the dynamic landscape of the public sector, the significance of installing product updates can’t be overstated. Prioritising preparation, communicating effectively, testing rigorously, and maintaining security throughout the process allows seamless installation – meaning you have access to all of the latest capabilities to further bolster UK public services.

Need a hand with installation?

As mentioned, installation challenges aren’t uncommon. We’re here to help. Whether it be advice on best practices from the NDL Helpdesk, or another pair of hands on deck with our Installation Services, we’re dedicated to ensuring your team gets the very most from its NDL license. For help with installation, reach out today.