Taking Care of Software After It Has Been Created

At Works, we place great value on regular software updates as a crucial component of software development. It ensures that solutions can adapt and grow in tandem with the dynamic needs of your business and the ever-changing market.

Outsourcing firms often suggest software maintenance services as an effective approach for enhancing system performance and reliability. At Works, we understand that establishing a strong development partnership extends beyond product release, as numerous software updates are required over its lifespan.

According to the author of “Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering,” maintenance represents the most critical aspect of software’s lifecycle, accounting for 60% of total software expenditure on average.

While software maintenance is a fundamental aspect of application development, it is often neglected when transitioning from the software team to the maintenance team. At Works, we understand that businesses may inadvertently overlook the significance of subsequent management and maintenance tasks while excessively focusing on the end goal.

What Does Software Maintenance Mean?

Software Maintenance is a crucial aspect of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) that entails enhancing and repairing a deployed software system through the addition of new features and the correction of bugs.

Following the development and release of a programme, software maintenance is an essential process that should be conducted to enhance efficiency. We recommend utilising contemporary development processes, eliminating unnecessary code, and reducing error rates to achieve this.

The extent of software maintenance necessitates ongoing effort beyond product release. While developing the software, teams need to prioritise security, scalability, and updating it with new features and bug fixes. Neglecting these updates runs the risk of rendering the software obsolete even before its deployment.

The Four Types of Software Maintenance

Four distinct categories of software maintenance exist, each serving a particular function.

  • Corrective Maintenance:

    Regular software maintenance is crucial to ensure system continuity. Users often detect errors related to system architecture, coding, or logic first, and it is essential to address them promptly.
  • Adaptive Maintenance:

    Due to changes in the underlying infrastructure, hardware improvements, or environmental modifications (such as adjustments by suppliers, integration with new or existing auxiliary systems, or new regulations governing security or industry compliance), the system may no longer be compatible. Thus, software maintenance is essential to adapt to these changes.
  • Perfective Maintenance:

    Rather than radical change, software maintenance seeks to achieve progression as the norm. Over time, as users become more familiar with a product, their expectations regarding its functionality may change. To achieve software perfection, it may be necessary to remove unnecessary features.
  • Preventive Maintenance:

    Similar to applying a bandage to an injury, preventive maintenance aims to prevent issues from occurring in advance. In essence, the process involves regularly making minor adjustments to programmes to ensure optimal functionality.

Contrasting Project Maintenance with Development

The transfer of a project from its development team to its maintenance team can be both intricate and time-consuming. To ensure a smooth and efficient handover, adhering to best practices is strongly recommended.

  • Select Competent Team Leaders:

    Leaders of associated teams such as business analysts and developers should remain in contact with those handling software maintenance. To guarantee a seamless transition and minimise the risk of errors, it is essential to establish a dependable communication channel and consult an experienced advisor. During the transition phase, managers should assess how the new programme’s introduction impacts existing Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
  • Allocate Adequate Funds for the Transition Period:

    It is imperative for businesses to allocate enough resources to the transition period from development to software maintenance. This should not be disregarded or taken lightly, as it is the business’s responsibility to ensure all stakeholders understand the importance of having an efficient support system. This budget can be utilised to hire additional support staff as required post-deployment.
  • Start the Transition Promptly:

    Companies working on software development are strongly advised not to adopt a “drop-and-run” approach when transferring projects from development to software maintenance. It is recommended that support staff are introduced to the project well before its completion, allowing them to shadow developers, attend meetings and briefings, and stay informed of any progress or decisions made.
  • Development teams will have a better understanding of the current state of existing architecture and will have the ability to make better decisions if maintenance team members use software apps that are present from the start.
  • Effective Communication:

    Organisations must recognise that software maintenance staff may not fully comprehend the reasoning behind decisions, objectives, or criteria set during the development phase. Sharing this information enables support personnel to provide enhanced assistance with the product, respond empathetically to future customer queries and establish better customer relationships.
  • Documenting:

    Documentation is crucial for the smooth operation of the service process. Proficient technology professionals should forecast the required documented details for potential future support activities. It is also essential to provide users with an understanding of the reasoning behind the development of new features or the addition of specific functionality.

Documentation is an essential tool for future software development projects and must not be ignored. It is advantageous for companies and development teams to ensure that the same developers are not solely responsible for implementing patches and updates.

The following should be included in the documentation:

  • Overview
  • References
  • Assumptions
  • Contacts
  • Agreements and licenses
  • Functional and feature lists and summaries, accompanied by diagrams and prototypes
  • Details of the configuration, such as the file system and user interface used to manage directories and settings
  • Operations components comprise of startup, shutdown, backup, restore and storage.
  • Safety clarifications

Sharing Knowledge

Sharing knowledge depends on many factors and cannot be accomplished solely through documentation. The sharing of information between current and upcoming teams can be challenging because of the unique skills and expertise that each team member brings to the organization.

Organizations should prepare for the transition by ensuring there is a period of overlap between outgoing and incoming maintenance management teams when possible. With growing support requests, it is advantageous for the maintenance team to have access to a centralized hub for guidance and solutions.

Clear communication of the service duration to all stakeholders is critical to establishing a sense of ownership and ensuring that both parties proceed with the right intentions. Establishing a defined boundary for the service provision is key in this regard.

After the completion of software development projects, it is advantageous to organize meetings among the maintenance team to review successes and identify areas for improvement. This allows for a more consistent approach for future projects.

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