Any accomplished software developer would agree that the life of software doesn’t begin with the coding, nor does it end once it’s launched. Every software is designed and developed with a lifecycle in mind. In fact, the start of the lifecycle and a major portion of the work only begins after the launch.
Like everything else, the software is always evolving as long as it’s useful for the people or the organisation. This automatically indicates that software requires proper monitoring and maintenance. This is partly owing to the changes within an organisation and to keep up with the latest technologies.
There could be a variety of reasons why a software requires diligent maintenance. In this blog, we will explore the importance of software maintenance when integrating a software and various other insights in this area.
What is Software Maintenance?
Software maintenance is the process of modifying and upgrading a software system to eliminate errors, enhance overall performance and adapt to a changing environment.
This process is essentially conducted to meet the specific requirements of the clients. Some may believe this process is carried out after the launch of the software. However, without taking software maintenance into account first, it’s difficult to consider other aspects such as hosting, infrastructure and disaster recovery which ultimately lead to a project’s success.
Software maintenance doesn’t only revolve around fixing bugs, it also consists of continuous enhancements of your product. The process ensures your software performs at a level where it can provide the most value for its users.
Types Of Software Maintenance
There are four distinct types of software maintenance depending on their purpose. A software product may undergo multiple types of maintenance throughout the Software Maintenance Lifecycle (SDLC).
Corrective maintenance is the typical form of maintenance (for software or any other product for that matter). Conducting this process is necessary when something goes wrong in a specific software including errors or bugs. These issues can have an adverse impact on the overall functionality of the software and should be addressed at the earliest.
Often software development partners deal with issues that require corrective maintenance owing to bug reports that end-users send in. If an organisation can identify and take care of the errors before the end-users can point them out, it puts the company at an advantage. This will contribute to the stellar reputation of the company.
This process of maintenance enables the conversion of the software system to keep it compatible with the changing requirements of a business. This process essentially focuses on software frameworks. It’s performed in response to new operating systems, platforms, and hardware to retain continuity with the software.
The process is all about modifying the software in response to changes in the environment. The objective of adaptive maintenance is to update and modify the software when:
- End-users require the software to align with new hardware.
- The operating system on which your software executes is evolving (owing to laws, rules, policies, operating systems, etc.)
- You’ve anticipated software errors that may be harmful for your customers in the future.
As with any product on the market, once the software is made available to the public, new issues and ideas come to the surface. The end-users may identify the necessity for adding new features that they would like to use in the software so that it’s convenient for them.
Perfective maintenance aims to update the software by incorporating new features as necessary. Additionally, it eliminates the features that are irrelevant or not effective in the given software. This process keeps software relevant as the market and user requirements evolve.
Preventive Maintenance assists in making changes and modifications to your software so that it can work for a longer period. The focus of this type of maintenance is to prevent the deterioration of your software as it continues to adapt and change. These services can include updating the documentation or optimising the code as needed.
Preventive maintenance helps in lowering the risk related to operating software for a prolonged time, helping it to become more stable, decipherable and adjustable.
Why Is Software Maintenance Required?
The longevity of a software relies heavily on its ability to run smoothly and evolve with the changing needs. Hence, there are various reasons why businesses must invest diligently in software maintenance and application support.
In the process of software support and maintenance, bug fixing becomes a priority to ensure that the software runs seamlessly. This task involves looking for errors in code and rectifying them. These issues can occur in hardware, operating systems or any part of the software. This task must be carried out without hurting the rest of the functionalities of the existing software.
Enhanced Performance With Regular Updates
Most maintenance processes will include a software upgrade. These upgrades are often dedicated to removing the issues highlighted by the end users and can greatly improve functionalities and performance. Based on the overall expenditure of upgrades over time, this component of software maintenance is often all that’s necessary to make the program worthwhile.
If your business opts for a customised software solution, you must ensure that this custom software is upgraded without any additional charges.
Adapting To The Changing Needs And Environment
Technology and the business environment are two of the fastest-growing areas. Thus, it’s increasingly crucial to make sure that your business is always taking advantage of the best that your software has to offer and that your software matches the business requirements at any point in time.
Consistent updates and maintenance allow your business to keep up with market trends and ensure its efficiency in the long run.
Eliminating Outdated Functions
Keeping unwanted functionalities within the software is useless. When such functionalities occupy space within the software, these can hurt the efficiency of the solutions.
Utilising a software maintenance guide such as UI and coding elements are removed and replaced with new development that includes the latest tools and technologies. This removal of features makes the system adaptive to deal with changing requirements.
Process of Software Maintenance
Software maintenance is a crucial phase of SDLC and it’s utilised through a proper software maintenance process, which is also known as Software Maintenance Lifecycle. This process further consists of seven different phases, each of which can be used in an iterative manner.
In this phase, the requests for changes in the software are acknowledged and evaluated. Each of the requested changes is thoroughly verified to determine and categorise the kind of maintenance activity it requires. Such activities are either generated by the system itself or through logs or error messages or by the end-users.
The scope and relevance of each validated change request are decided, and a proper plan is drawn up to implement the changes in the software. The input attribute consists of validated change requests, project documentation, the initial estimate of resources, and repository information. The cost of changes and maintenance are also chalked out.
The new modules that need to be replaced or modified are designed as per the requirements mentioned in the previous stages. Test cases are developed for the new design including safety and security issues. These test cases are created for the verification of the system.
In the implementation phase, the actual alteration in the software code is carried out, new features that support the specifications of the present software are included, and the altered software is installed. The new modules are coded with the help of a structured design created in the design phase.
System Testing Phase
Regression testing is executed on the modified software to ensure that no errors or bug is left undetected. Moreover, it confirms that no new glitches are introduced in the software because of maintenance activities. Integration testing is also performed between new modules and the system.
Acceptance Testing Phase
Acceptance testing is performed on the fully integrated software by the end user or the third party specified by the end user. The main objective of this kind of testing is to check that all the features of the software follow the requirements stated in the change request document.
Once the acceptance testing is successfully completed, the modified system is delivered to the users. Additionally, the end-user is offered proper documentation consisting of manuals and files that elaborate on the operation of the software along with its hardware specifications. The final testing of the software is performed by the client after the solution is handed over.
Software Maintenance Models
Several models are proposed for software maintenance that helps overcome the internal and external issues associated with the software. These models use distinct approaches and techniques to simplify the process of maintenance as well as to make it less expensive. The most crucial software maintenance models include:
Iterative Enhancement Model
This model considers the alterations made to the software to be iterative in nature. The model incorporates changes in the software based on the evaluation of the existing system. This system anticipates that the complete documentation of the software is available from the maintenance. Moreover, it aims to control complexity and focuses on a good design.
This model carries out the maintenance process depending on the economic models and principles. It signifies the maintenance process in a closed loop, wherein the modifications are recommended and approved first and then those are implemented.
The Reuse Oriented Model
The parts of the old/existing software that are appropriate for reuse are recognised and understood, in Reuse Oriented Model. These parts are then put through changes and enhancements which are executed based on the specified new requirements. The final stage of this model is the integration of modified parts into the new system.
Wrapping It Up,
Software maintenance is an integral part of the software development process which can’t be avoided. It’s a necessary process that ensures the overall functionality of the software remains seamless and aligns with the changing needs of the organisation. It goes way beyond the simple bug fixes and mitigation of errors. Hence, it’s imperative for businesses to put as much emphasis on this process as in any of the phases of software development and implementation.