Why is software maintenance important?
In our last post we looked at “What is Software Maintenance?”. We are going to continue along that theme with looking at why it is so important to maintain any software you use.
Often when companies develop or buy software, they do not think about how it is going to be maintained. Your shiny new software might have taken months or even years to develop but to maximise that investment you will want to keep it running smoothly for as long as possible. That can easily be 10 years or more. The only way that can happen is through proper software maintenance.
5 Reasons Software Maintenance is Important
- Improves Security
- Reduces Cost of Ownership
- Improves Performance
- Reduces failures
- Improves User Experience
A lot of the above is true for both off-the-shelf and bespoke software so let’s dive in a little deeper into each of them.
Software Maintenance Increases Software Security
It is easy just to think about your software when it comes to security. We often forget that it probably has many libraries / dependencies that were used in its creation. It also runs on hardware that will have its own operating system with even more dependencies. Each one of these dependencies is a potential security risk.
The good news is that, more often than not, each of these dependencies will have a team making sure that any security risks are fixed and patches are released. Your maintenance programme should track these fixes and implement them in your software to maintain your software security.
Software maintenance can also continue to evolve your software security to follow best practice. You will have seen the huge growth in the use of 2 factor authentication where along with the traditional username and password, you now also have to type in a code that is sent to your mobile, or log into your banking app to approve a payment. Behind the scenes new algorithms are being developed to increase security. For example, it would be very rare now to see a password stored as plain text, they are encrypted and that encryption is constantly improving.
Software Maintenance Reduces the Cost of Ownership
When it comes to software, a small amount spent on maintenance often will be cheaper in the long run than a large amount spent in an ad-hoc manner. Again, looking at the dependencies of your software, incrementally keeping them up to date typically means that any issues that arise are small and quickly fixed. If you wait an only update every other major release, or even worse only when things go wrong, then issues tend to be much more complicated and even the time required for comprehensive testing will dramatically go up.
Software Maintenance Improves Performance
As new features are added there is a tendency for software to become bloated and that bloat often impacts performance. Along with the development of new features there should be a maintenance programme of removing redundant or not used features.
Also, most software has to store data, over time this can grow to such an extent that everything starts to slow down. Either programmatically, or as a manual maintenance procedure, data needs to be maintained to prevent performance issues, this can be anything from archiving old data to removing it completely.
Software Maintenance Reduces Failures
The impact this has on your business depends on how critical the software is to your business. In its extreme form we have seen software that has never been maintained just completely stopping working. There are normally signs along the way that things are not as they should be. For example, a small part of the software might not work, or may be behaving in a way that it shouldn’t. We have seen software that only works on Windows XP (which stop being maintained in 2014) that is critical to a business but it has not been maintained in so long that no one actually knows what to do or dares to even look at it in fear of breaking what is working. There have been some high-profile examples of when this head in the sand approach has gone horribly wrong.
A well implemented software maintenance programme dramatically reduces the chances of critical failure of your software.
Software Maintenance Improves User Experience
As software has become a much more integrated part of day-to-day life, users have had to get used to software not working as it should. We have built up a tolerance for software bugs. We have not however built up a tolerance for software bugs that are not fixed. Software that works as it should is typically a better user experience than software that doesn’t and bugs require fixing in a timely manner.
Software maintenance is a vital part of your software’s life-cycle. It benefits you, your users and your business in many ways. We offer a number of software maintenance and support packages that keep you on top of your software maintenance requirements. If you have software that has been a bit unloved then please get in touch so we can come up with a plan to get you back on track.