Vendors often try to push for maintenance contracts along with software development, and you might be unsure whether to go ahead and sign up for them. Here is where we tell you why software maintenance is important.
In fact, as Robert Glass writes in his ‘Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering’, about 60% of a software’s cost is maintenance, and about 60% of the maintenance cost is improvement. The technological growth rate in the software field is significantly higher compared to most other fields. This means that one has to always remain proactive to keep their product relevant and up-to-date. This is just one of many functions of software maintenance.
Computer Science students learn about the first law of software engineering – “No matter where you are in the system life cycle, the system will change, and the desire to change it will persist throughout the life cycle.” Maintenance is just an effort to keep up with this change, and maybe, try to go a step ahead of the change itself. Why Go for Software Maintenance?
Maintenance has to be performed to repair the existing faults in the software. This might include bug fixes due to a bad code, or a major system repair if the problem is advanced. Bugs may also appear in case of change in the hardware, OS or other accompanying parts in the system. Maintenance involves testing to detect a problem and injecting a fix without disturbing the rest of the system.
As we mentioned above, a software ecosystem is continuously changing, and regular maintenance is required to help it adapt to the new changes. Work patterns, software platforms, compilers, hardware upgrades, etc. all affect the working of software. In essence, adaptive maintenance is required to keep your software fresh in changing circumstances and increasing the lifespan of the software.
One can also undergo the software maintenance process to fine tune the performance ability, functionality and usability of the software. It can simply range from changing the GUI of the software to make it more attractive and user friendly to making drastic changes in the core code to improve the runtime and performance. One can keep building up on the initial work done to make the software perfectly adaptive in the changing circumstances. Perfective maintenance accounts for around 60% of the maintenance cost, in accordance to the aforementioned 60/60 rule by Robert Glass.
Preventive maintenance is essentially a pre-emptive strike against problems. By carefully observing the conditions in the ecosystem, an expert can take decisions to re-engineer the software through data and code restructuring. This type of maintenance does not really contribute to the functionality of the software, but rather acts like a vaccine to prevent problems and the additional repair costs that come with them.
Legal and Business Reasons
It is not just the technological parameters that change with time, but also the legal and business side of things. Adaptiveness is required not only to stay on par with your competition, but to be on par with the latest legal norms and requirements related to privacy and security of the users. Business patterns and government rules are also subject to constant change and improvement.
Does My Software Need Maintenance?
This is a key question that hassles most firms, especially due to the mammoth costs that the maintenance comes with. The decision to go for maintenance and the amount of committal to the task should be taken after assessing the expected lifespan and usability of the software. The other important aspect one has to keep an eye on is the time frame on releasing updates – whether the maintenance agreement calls for dot releases, ie, version 2.2 to 2.3, or full releases, ie, version 2 to 3. Make sure to check the release cycle to see if it is agreeable with your strategic business plans and the changing market structures.
Get in touch with OptimusInfo to know more about software maintenance. Some call software maintenance a necessary evil, but with the right amount of expertise and professional help, you can make it into what it really is – a good investment.