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What is Software Maintenance?
Many people think developing software and deploying it on the hardware is the end of the SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle). But just like the world experiences constant change the software field faces change. There may be bugs in the delivered software overlooked by the testers. They need to be fixed. Otherwise, the software will not work properly. There may be performance issues with the software. Or the software crashes when subjected to load. The programming logic may have inadvertently missed certain real-world scenarios. Some features may have become obsolete. The software may need to be scaled up or down. New features may be required by the users. Some uses may want some features removed. Legacy software may need to be migrated to state-of-the-art hardware. The software may need to adapt to different business and technological developments.
Software maintenance is in itself a major field. It is as important as software development. If you want to retain the quality, reliability and relevance of deployed software please take software maintenance seriously. Many software companies have a dedicated software maintenance department. When you purchase software ask about the after sales support and maintenance provided by the vendor. For your information software maintenance takes up as much or more resources when compared with the prominent activity of software development.
We take a look at the ways to achieve effective software maintenance
Types of Software Maintenance
There are 4 major types of software maintenance. We take a look at them.
Here you make changes to the software in order to prevent future issues. Steps taken include updation of the existing documentation, optimization of the code as well as restructuring of the source code. Additionally, it focuses on efficiently using storage and enabling faster execution of the software.
Here software bugs are identified and errors are corrected. A variety of diagnosing activities are carried out. Many people assume this is the only type of maintenance activity but in reality, it is not so. Recently there is more awareness about the significance of maintenance and the fact that there is more to software maintenance than just bug fixing. Corrective maintenance focuses on flaws that have the risk of adversely affecting the regular functioning of the relevant software. The flaws may be present in the source code, software design or programming logic. Many times, deployed software doesn’t deliver expected business functionality. This is because of miscommunication during the requirements analysis stage.
This type of maintenance activity aims to enhance the quality of the software. Speed, performance, functionality and user friendliness can be improved in a planned and systematic process. Better software technologies and algorithms can be implemented. The navigation can be made easier. Also, the user interface can be made more intuitive and attractive. Data retrieval can be made simpler, more convenient and faster. The E-commerce functionality can be improved. All these enhancement activities don’t aim at simply fixing errors but rather to offer better quality software to users.
This type of maintenance activity aims at ensuring the relevant software is in line with the changing technology and business requirements. Hardware and databases may change. There may be new cyber threats which the software is not equipped to deal with. As such new security features have to be incorporated in the software. The software has to be made compatible in case the operating system is changed. If laws and policies change the software has to be modified to be compliant with them.
How to Ensure Successful Software Maintenance
Have a software maintenance team consisting of the developers who wrote the source code and outsiders. The advantage of developers is that they are familiar with the code and what each module does. As such they are able to change the code far faster than a newcomer. The advantage of outsiders is they each come with a fresh pair of eyes. They are not saturated with coding and have more energy. You will find that they will spot errors overlooked by the developers.
One tip to improve the quality of maintenance is to have up-to-date and quality documentation. The software documentation should explain in detail what each line of code does, future challenges and the best way to fix problems if they arise. Testing should be done early in the development stage itself to improve the quality of the software and make it virtually bug free. Don’t try to save money in software development by using inexpensive or old technology. You may end up spending more ultimately if the software technology becomes obsolete or the software performance is poor.
Have a detailed maintenance process in place. Circulate copies of the document to everybody involved in the software project. Solicit suggestions and ask each individual whether there are any shortcomings in the process. Once the process is finalised, follow it meticulously for all the software development projects you do.
You have the option to have an in-house team for software maintenance. Alternatively, you could hire the services of a quality company specialising in software maintenance services. Ideally, they should understand both the business and technological aspect of the software you wish to maintain. They should have the right testing tools and implement best practices. Sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) to protect the confidentiality of your business and technological processes incorporated into your software. Have an SLA (Service Level Agreement) in place which stipulates how quickly they resolve the maintenance issues associated with your software. Arrange a technical team from your end to verify business knowledge and expertise in software maintenance. Initially hire the company for a short period and if you are satisfied with the quality of their services, you can work out a long-term commitment.
Focaloid is a stellar software development products and services company catering to clients in the US & UK. We have the necessary expertise and experience in a variety of software maintenance services. Focaloid has a dynamic team of talented and seasoned professionals in various domains and technologies. Over time we have established a mature outsourcing model which is productive, efficient as well as effective. You can safely rely on us to deliver outstanding software solutions and services within stipulated deadlines. Contact us at the earliest to know how we can help you. We are committed to superior client satisfaction and mutual growth.