Introduction of Software Maintenance
Software maintenance is one of the phases of the software engineering lifecycle that involves fixing reported issues and new enhancements to optimize performance. It is an important and continuing phase that starts after the development, testing, and deployment or delivery phases are completed. Most of the packaged software follows the regular maintenance or patch release cycle. Whereas the organization-specific software requires planning and process management for the maintenance phase. With the growing need and change in technology for software operations, the maintenance phase is vital for every organization that uses the software for efficient business processes.
Need for Software Maintenance
In this section, we will discuss the need for maintenance with some real-world use cases. There are several instances and business scenarios that raise the maintenance phase. Some of the business scenarios are as follows
- Organization structure change
- Market demand
- Regulatory changes
- Client requirements for customization
- Software Upgrades
- Design improvements
- Interfacing with other applications.
- Fixing the bugs
- Increase scalability
- Increase deployment options.
- Improve efficiency based on the business process load
An example of a software maintenance need requirement would be the retail storehouse software that managing the supply chain in a particular location. The business grows and merged with another retail chain vendor. The existing warehouse management software needs to be customized to integrate and upgrade the existing capacity with the new retail chain business software to work efficiently. This is a software maintainable phase for the retail warehouse management software.
Software Maintenance Process
The processes involved based on the industry standard for lifecycle are as follows
- Requirements Identification: Requirements identification and tracing is the initial process of software maintenance that involves several interactions with the associated resources and the external entities.
- Analysis Activity: It involves the functional and technical analysis of the maintenance activities based on the business need.
- Design Phase: This phase involves architecting and designing the technical component to achieve the maintenance goal.
- Implementation Phase: This is the development and configuration phase .most of the developer resource involved in this phase. Teams collaborate to develop using the existing application codes with reference to existing functionalities of the software.
- Testing Phase: This phase involves the testing resources to check the new manganese feature or configurations. Also, this phase ensures the new change based on the maintenance scope. It ensures the new changes are not impacting any other functions that are not in the scope of that phase.
- Delivery Phase: This phase deals with maintain deployments and enabling the maintain features and fixes to the software. The important aspect is the working window of the deployment activities, as this may require a business downtime for completing the activities. It also manages the training and documented instructions of the changes to the users.
- Maintenance Management Phase: This phase involves configurations and version controlling of the software artifacts associated with the implemented software. It is a relevant process for patch releases and iterative phases.
Similarly, there are several categories of maintenance that are associated with software maintenance processes based on business requirements.
The types are as follows
- Adaptive Maintenance: This type of maintenance involves the updating and modification of the software after delivery to accommodate up-to-date technology changes and industry needs.
- Corrective Maintenance: This type is the reactive modification to the software after delivery to correct the problems that are identified by the users or by the error reports collected over a period of time.
- Preventive Maintenance: This type of activity is related to modification and applying the updates to the software after delivery to prevent possible faults in the future. These include fixing the minor issues that are not significant at the moment, however, those can be effective faults at a later point in time.
- Perfective Maintenance: This type is related to the enhancements and modifications to the delivered software for increasing the performance, usability, reliability, and maintainability
Maintenance is very useful to increase business process efficiency. There are several direct and indirect benefits to the business received by the maintenance phase of the implemented software. some of the major advantages are as follows
- Reduces operational costs.
- Increase productivity
- Faster time of delivery to the customer by increasing the automation capabilities of the existing software.
- Increase in Compatibility to integrate with other business units or partner software systems.
- Reduce the risk of any dependent software such as Operating systems or driver software deprecating.
- Scale the business with the implemented software stack.
- Regular support and service from the software vendor.
- Eligible to upgrade to the latest version of the software with minimal effort.
- Periodic maintenance alerts option from software vendors for better security and industry compliance policies.
Despite several advantages, the phase has some disadvantages associated with it. we will discuss those in this section.
- The software maintains phase is associated with different parties and time constraints.
- There might be temporary downtime to the production of the business, while the changes are applied and configured.
- The existing staffs and external users such as customers, partners, and other business stack holders need to be instructed and trained about any change of the software in a timely manner. As the users are already familiar with the existing processes and habituated to use of the software, it is important to represent the change in simplified descriptions.
- The additional change management plan for the integrated applications to adapt to the changes.
The software maintenance phase is the least focused area compared to other SDLC phases such as development and testing. However, It took more time and effort to manage the change requests and regular updates for the software that is already in production use. Hence, maintenance is crucial for proper functioning.
This is a guide to Software Maintenance. Here we also discuss the introduction and need for software maintenance along with advantages and disadvantages. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –