What is software maintenance and why it’s essential in the current crisis?
Co-founder and CEO of Spyrosoft Ltd.
One of the truths of the software development process is that it’s never truly completed. If you’ve ever worked on a product or a service, you’ll know that it requires constant optimisation and often you have to handle circumstances and issues that you could not have envisioned. For this process to be successful, you have to stay flexible and tackle any situation that arises.
This is what makes software maintenance activities so important in the current pandemic-related economic crisis and the shift in how we work and what type of digital products we need.
What is software maintenance?
Software maintenance is any type of activity related to the optimisation of a software product. Some argue that it’s a post-launch process, but without thinking about aspects of software maintenance such as hosting, infrastructure and disaster recovery, your project cannot be successful in the longer term.
Software maintenance is not only about fixing bugs, it’s also about continuous honing of your product and making sure it performs at a level where it can provide the most value for its users.
4 types of software maintenance
Software maintenance can be divided into four types, depending on its reason and purpose:
Corrective software maintenance – deals with fixing bugs, faults and errors as they are detected.
Preventative software maintenance – includes making changes, adaptations and upgrades to avoid possible problems in the future but also to make the software easier to scale and manage in the long run.
Perfective software maintenance – is about adding new features and removing some of the uneffective ones according to the users’ changing needs and feedback.
Adaptive software maintenance – focuses on adjusting the software to certain changes in its environment (i.e. the operating system) as well as to company policies or regulatory requirements.
What are the software maintenance activities?
Here’s a list of the essential software maintenance activities:
Hosting and infrastructure maintenance
This may include auditing existing software infrastructure, organising the code and documentation to fix possible issues as well as updating and patching. It also involves improving the solution’s performance, for example by combining all common purpose applications and splitting the biggest monoliths into microservices.
Application maintenance and support
Application support for live systems secures your business continuity and removes possible risks.
Backup and disaster recovery (DR)
Regular system backups ensure your security through access controls and firewalls. Backup policies and disaster recovery plans also strengthen the security of your data.
Product optimisation includes for example, removing possible defects discovered when using a product, adapting it to business changes or enhancing its performance.
Software development process automation
This task entails setting a single code repository and implementing an approach where every team member, tester, mechanism and test script use the same fully automated process for building and obtaining software copies.
Now, let’s get back to what makes software maintenance so important in the current conditions.
What are the benefits of software maintenance services?
The key software maintenance benefits include:
Reduced costs of adding new features and services
If your products or services are well-maintained it also means that the cost of adding a new feature or offering a new business value will be easier and cheaper. With understandable and complete documentation and lighter infrastructure, your teams will be better equipped for any changes and won’t need to spend their precious time on things that should have been updated a long time ago.
At Spyrosoft, we’re using another way of reducing software maintenance costs for our customers. All of our maintenance engineers are working on a few projects at once, so you only pay for their time when it’s needed.
We’re also using one more money-saving method with our teams. As well as maintaining your IT system they can also develop it. Covering development and maintenance activities in one budget will allow you to respond to ever-changing market needs, without the need to increase your outlay.
Mature processes save your time
There’s one thing that speeds up the workflow of your teams and that is mature and trusted processes. Most importantly, you should create these in collaboration with all your team members and closely follow the best practices they’re already using. This way, they won’t be treating these procedures as a burden and one more thing to check off, but rather helpful guidance that allows them to save time going through their daily tasks.
At Spyrosoft, we’re using operational processes based on our years of experience. In practice, this means that in case of any issues your services will be restored faster.
You’re more prepared for any issues that arise
I discussed this in my last article about software maintenance strategies, but I’ll mention it again: with software maintenance tasks being completed regularly, you can be sure that if your product or services go down you’re ready to handle the situation. One of the elements of your documentation should be a detailed manual for how your team will respond to certain critical issues, including the responsibility split, key contacts and the exact workflow.
Your team should also have backup and disaster recovery plans written down and implemented, so they can follow them as soon as any type of software issue appears.
Ensured continuity of your project
With software maintenance processes in place, you can be sure that your project will survive any type of issue. Whether it’s your servers going down or a surprising surge of user requests, your application/service can withstand any of these.
Making sure that your infrastructure and all IT systems are performing at a top-level is crucial for your project continuity. Without these processes in place, you may risk losing your previous work/effort to unforeseen circumstances. Once again, having the disaster recovery plans I’ve mentioned in the previous paragraph are essential for the project’s security.
Increased security of your data
Software maintenance processes are also about the increased security of your data. Hosting your application’s infrastructure using the safest methods possible can make or break your digital product. As you can see, software maintenance should be considered at any stage of the product development process, from planning to post-deployment optimisation.
You can focus on the core of your business
Lastly, there’s nothing like knowing that you can focus on the core of your business, instead of trying to get your software to work. By taking your software maintenance tasks and outsourcing them to an external technological partner, you’re finally able to engage with what you’re doing best and grow your company at full speed.
This is also especially true if your teams use software development process automation. The implementation of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery tools, as well as monitoring the flow, will allow you to develop your product or services in a more effective way.
Let’s face it: software maintenance activities have always been important but now they’re more crucial than ever. If you’d like to know more about what tasks you should focus on, check out our article on the software maintenance strategies that can help your business thrive even in times of crisis.