Accurately predicting software maintenance costs is difficult because every piece of software is unique in its own way. Likely, this sounds like a cop-out, but it is true. The truth is every mobile app, website, or software will require maintenance at some point in its life cycle if it is even remotely successful.
The mistake most businesses make is underestimating what software maintenance will cost over the course of their software’s lifetime. Through intelligent maintenance planning and execution, it is possible to reduce your costs. However, you will never eradicate maintenance costs.
This post will help you understand what factors affect software maintenance costs. We will also explain the three types of software maintenance and how they could affect prices.
What Does Software Maintenance Cost?
Many businesses make the critical mistake of assuming that most of their software costs will be incurred during development. They erroneously believe that once they have borne the development cost, they won’t have any other software expenses for a few years. Ignoring or failing to account for the cost of software maintenance could set your software up for failure.
Software development is an ongoing process that requires regular investment. Over the lifetime of your software, your company could spend up to ten times more on maintenance costs than the initial build. Therefore, your business should actively plan for software maintenance during the initial stages of budget development.
We know it is impossible to predict the future. You won’t be able to plan for every issue, bug, or upgrade that becomes necessary to address accurately. Some problems will be more severe and require greater attention and financial resources than others. However, if you are pursuing custom software development, your business should be prepared to spend at least two times the cost of deployment on ongoing maintenance.
Whether you are building a FinTech app, a retail app, or using HiTech features like Machine Learning and Augmented Reality, there are several factors that can affect the maintenance required on your software and the overall cost. Some of the most common factors affecting the price of software maintenance include:
As software ages, it becomes more expensive to maintain. Typically, this is a result of the hardware the software was built for. Older hardware is slower and has less memory and storage capacity. In addition, keeping up with the latest tech advancements will require more extensive and more significant overhauls over time. Therefore, it will be more cost-effective to retire your outdated software and develop a new solution at a certain point instead of trying to maintain it.
You might think that all software can be modified, and to some degree, all software can be modified. However, some software isn’t built or structured to handle future modifications. Anything beyond corrective maintenance will be difficult and costly if your software’s architecture isn’t designed to drive future changes.
Some software is built with a dependency on an external environment such as cloud or physical servers. Like the architecture, a software’s dependencies can significantly affect the total cost of maintenance. This is especially true if changes to the dependency occur. For example, if the external environment is switched from a physical server to a cloud server.
The engineers who build your software and the engineers who maintain it are cost factors often overlooked. Ideally, the engineers who developed your software will be the ones that support it. However, this is often not the case. If the same team is retained to maintain the software, there is typically turnover on that team, making software maintenance more difficult.
The original developers know the code the best. If they have not adequately documented their work, the developers who come in after development and work on maintenance will have more difficulty. Additionally, if you have engineers that have to troubleshoot issues, they may do more harm than good, which will require additional maintenance and support.
It is always best to use the same software development team for software maintenance, but if this is not possible, ensure that there is proper documentation to ease future maintenance and support issues.
The Three Types of Software Maintenance
Unless you are already familiar with software maintenance, you might be surprised to learn that there are three distinct types of maintenance. The three types of software maintenance we will cover are:
- Corrective maintenance
- Adaptive maintenance
- Enhancing maintenance
Corrective maintenance aims to fix issues or bugs that present themselves in the software. These issues are often found during the testing phase of development, but they are also commonly found by users who submit error or bug reports. Therefore, corrective maintenance is the most common and regularly conducted type of software maintenance. When errors are discovered, they should be addressed immediately to ensure your software’s continued health and positive User Experience.
Adaptive maintenance is aimed at updating software to meet current technological standards. Software that is cutting edge when it is developed will soon fall behind the latest advancements. Therefore, it is crucial to continually adapt to the latest innovations to keep your company’s software at the forefront. In addition, users will typically opt to use software that is the most convenient and comprehensive. As a result, adaptive maintenance is an integral part of any successful software maintenance strategy.
Enhancing maintenance aims to perfect the software from a business and user perspective. Enhancing maintenance is also sometimes referred to as perfective maintenance. These maintenance tasks will add or remove features and design elements from software based on feedback from stakeholders and users. Enhancing maintenance is more subjective than adaptive or corrective maintenance, but it still plays a vital role in any software maintenance strategy.
Without intimate knowledge of specific software, it will be impossible to predict the cost of maintaining it accurately. However, several cost factors can be accounted for, including age, architecture, and dependencies. If your business wants to learn more about software maintenance, reach out to an app development partner. An experienced partner will explain all factors that affect software maintenance costs.