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Software upgrades are unpopular with IT staff (Photo: Google)

Companies are slow to upgrade important business software, according to a study by German consultants Steria Mummert.

And once one update has been skipped, the next one will be even bigger, the consultants warn. That means more work and a greater risk that something will go wrong.

"It happens not infrequently that an IT staffer has to read thousands of accumulated release notes and has to manually assess them," said Lars Hinrichsen, test management expert at Steria Mummert. "The effects on other IT systems and processes have to be assessed in detail and it's important to know which adjustments are the most important for which users and thus need to be carried out first."

Many companies don't have an automated update process in place and that makes it hard to deal with the many small changes software providers make regularly. That reflects the unpopularity among IT staff of the regular software update tasks.

Steria Mummert's Hinrichsen said in a statement that automated update processes speed up the process and save on testing costs. Through the use of an upgrade simulation, for example, corporate IT specialists can capture all the effects of an SAP change on IT systems and processes. Said Hinrichsen: "Altogether that reduces costs and risks by more than half."