Developing a software maintenance plan is an essential part of product management. No software will ever be perfect. Plus, as software is used, ages, and faces real-world conditions, opportunities for improvements always present themselves. Whether you have a mobile app or a web app, software maintenance is critical for long-term success.
This post will explain the importance of software maintenance, define the four common types of software maintenance, and walk through the typical maintenance process for most software. If you want your software to succeed, maintenance and support need to be part of your operational strategy.
Why Is Software Maintenance Important?
Are you familiar with the software development life cycle (SDLC)? The SDLC describes software’s life cycle, from initial idea through development and launch and maintenance and support. Sadly, most software is not successful commercially, which means that it either never gets built or is shut down sometime after deployment. In these cases, there is no need for a maintenance plan.
However, successful software will spend the majority of its life cycle in the final stage of the SDLC, ongoing support and maintenance. If you need to consider creating a maintenance plan for your software, this is an indication that it is successful, at least to this point. Yet, failure to provide ongoing support and maintenance can quickly tank your successful software.
If your organization wants to remain competitive and provide quality software, your project management team needs to implement a maintenance plan. The type of maintenance required to keep your software operating at optimal levels and delighting users will depend on the issues that arise and the goals of your business.
Businesses cannot sit back and let their software stagnate. If you want to remain competitive and relevant, your business must look for ways to correct and improve its software.
The Common Types of Software Maintenance
When it comes to software maintenance, there are only four different types of maintenance. The software might undergo multiple types of maintenance simultaneously, or it might only require one type of maintenance at a time. One thing is for sure, at some point, your organization’s software will likely need each type of maintenance.
The four types of software maintenance are:
- Corrective maintenance
- Preventative maintenance
- Perfective maintenance
- Adaptive maintenance
Corrective software maintenance addresses issues that arise when something goes wrong. For example, bugs and other errors in software would be addressed through corrective maintenance. Corrective maintenance is the most common type of maintenance for software or for anything.
Bugs, errors, and other faults impact the User Experience negatively, but they can also significantly impact the overall functionality and usability of the software. Ideally, your organization will find and fix errors before users report them, but typically, many of these issues are brought to the attention of developers from user bug reports.
Preventative software maintenance aims to make changes that will prolong the lifespan of your software. Prevention is all about planning for the future and anticipating areas of concern. This type of software maintenance is primarily concerned with latent faults. Latent faults are issues or errors in the software that don’t necessarily harm current functionality, performance, or User Experience.
However, over time latent faults can turn into more significant problems. The best way to address latent faults is through preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance ensures that your software doesn’t degrade as it adapts to emerging technologies and changes.
Perfective maintenance is concerned with perfecting your company’s software product. Of course, true perfection is unattainable. However, there will always be new features, designs, and user feedback that can be incorporated into your existing software. Typically, users will make suggestions about the tools they would like to see added or ways to improve existing features in the software.
Perfective maintenance keeps software relevant as user expectations and technologies change. Commonly, this type of maintenance adds, adjusts, or removes software features as needed to create a product that serves the needs of the target users.
Adaptive maintenance ensures that your organization’s software can successfully incorporate new technologies. Additionally, adaptive maintenance ensures that an organization’s rules and policies are reflected in its software. Technology evolves rapidly. If adaptive maintenance is not pursued, your company’s cutting-edge software will soon become obsolete.
Adaptive maintenance is closely related to app modernization. Typically, adaptive maintenance will help move the software to the cloud or increase supported operating systems and hardware. If your business is seeking longevity, adaptive maintenance is a must for its software.
The Typical Software Maintenance Process
Regardless of the type of maintenance being performed, the software maintenance process generally includes the following steps:
- System testing
- User testing
The first step of any software maintenance is the identification of the issue. Either a developer will identify an issue, or it will be brought to light in a user report. Regardless, before a problem can be addressed, it must first be identified.
The next step of software maintenance is analyzing the identified issue and the proposed solution. Generally, stakeholders want to see a cost analysis of the problem and the proposed solution to determine if maintenance is necessary or feasible. The analysis stage also highlights the potential effects of the proposed changes.
Once a solution has been agreed upon, it must be designed to meet specifications. Therefore, it is essential to get the design right, or you will find yourself investing more time and financial resources in additional maintenance.
After a design has been finalized, developers must implement the changes in the software. Improper implementation can lead to latent faults or even errors that negatively impact functionality, so make sure to get it right.
Following implementation, the entire software system must be tested to ensure proper performance. In addition, all changes should be thoroughly tested in addition to the system as a whole with the new changes implemented.
Before deployment, users need to test the changes to the software. User testing acts as a final buffer to find any issues with the changes before they go live.
Finally, new changes are delivered to the public through updates. This step concludes the software maintenance process. However, maintenance and support never truly end until the software is decommissioned.
Software maintenance is vital to the longevity of enterprise software. Don’t underestimate the value or importance of software maintenance and support. If you need help creating a software maintenance plan for your organization, reach out to an experienced app development partner.