Why is there a need for software maintenance?
Software maintenance is akin to car maintenance wherein you have to look under the hood regularly. However, unlike a car, a software product is even more volatile. There are many components that make up software, and one or more of those can fail over time.
Furthermore, the foundational elements of its tech stack are bound to need upgrades. Hence, software maintenance is necessary to fix issues and make sure everything is up to date.
Here are other reasons why software maintenance must be performed on an application:
- Fix bugs and errors
- Ensure optimal performance
- Improve its existing features
- Enhance its performance (speed, functionality)
- Rework the system
- Integrate with other systems
- Migrate legacy software
- Retire the software
Types of Software Maintenance
Errors and bugs are inevitable in a working system. That’s why corrective software maintenance is a must. This is the process of identifying the errors and faults of the application and correcting them. It addresses problems that could potentially impact parts of the application such as design, logic, and code.
How it works
Corrective maintenance is a reactive approach. It often deals with common minor issues like login failure or connectivity errors. Once the issue is reported by the user or the in-house QA tester, then troubleshooting begins.
This type of maintenance work is often easy and done quickly so it doesn’t disrupt the application’s performance. Users will hardly notice corrective changes. Although in rare cases, if the error significantly changes a process, it might provoke some negative reactions.
Here are basic steps to do corrective maintenance this:
- The software product is deployed and undergoes different test cases.
- Once the issue is reported by the user or the in-house QA tester, then troubleshooting begins.
- Upon fixing, the developers update the software and update the status of the issues found.
An application is made up of a tech stack that usually involves the products of third-party providers. Sooner or later there will be necessary updates and changes in thetechnologies you use.
For example, you’ll need to upgrade plugins and libraries to their latest versions. And, there are expected updates on your operating system, cloud storage, hardware, and other software dependencies. To prevent making your software outdated, you have to consistently implement adaptive measures.
How it works
You can perform adaptive maintenance alongside corrective maintenance. When you’re fixing bugs, you might as well make the necessary updates too. In some cases, the updates may even end up fixing the issue.
This type of software maintenance, though, is often overlooked. Since it doesn’t have a direct impact on users, the business or development team may not prioritize it. The general function is usually unaffected by the changes brought about in integrating new technologies. However, it does have substantial business value.
For example, when you don’t upgrade to the latest version of your operating system, you’ll miss out on some important features. Those features would’ve been a great addition to your application. Oftentimes, those extra features might just be what keeps your app relevant to users.
There’s always a risk of your software becoming outdated and incompatible with the latest technologies. To prevent those situations, you have to perform adaptive maintenance regularly.
On to a more proactive approach, preventive software maintenance is the process of detecting and resolving issues early. This is the type of software maintenance that future proofs your application. Its goal is to boost the scalability of your system by fixing latent faults before they turn into operational errors.
How it works
Companies often schedule their preventative maintenance. Depending on what part of the system they’re working on, it may or may not affect the application’s performance. In most cases, a business would announce the date of the maintenance so users may avoid making critical transactions.
Again, the degree of work will determine if the operation is affected. Some companies use preventative maintenance tools for the system to seamlessly scale itself. While others would do it manually, which poses more risk of interruptions.
To better visualize preventative maintenance, we can use servers. For example, if the number of users reaches a certain benchmark, the current system might not be able to handle it. It might potentially result in a dramatic system crash. To prevent this, you can add servers before it happens. This way, servers are already prepared to cater to the increased traffic.
Lastly, we have perfective software maintenance. This deals with the existing features of the application. It involves refining and deleting certain functionalities, as well as adding new ones. The goal is simply to modify and improve the current state of the application.
How it works
This type of software maintenance may be more visible on the user’s end. It can change the software’s interface and some major functionalities. Users may not respond positively to the change, so communication is essential to mitigate this task. It’s best to let users know beforehand what changes you’re planning to make and make sure to take their feedback seriously.
One good example of perfective maintenance is a login change. Perhaps you want to change or add another way users can log in to your application. You must communicate these changes in advance and put the proper support in place once it’s launched. The worst-case scenario is they may not be able to log in to their account properly.
Overall, software maintenance is vital to the success of your software. Learning how to do all types of software maintenance will be a huge advantage in the long run. Think of it as an investment for the longevity of your application.