At Ping! Development, we offer Customer Support and Software Maintenance plans as part of our services. Businesses need to view software maintenance in the same way they view maintaining their vehicles and machinery. Lack of a good maintenance plan for software can lead to reduced efficiency, down time, and even security breaches. Keeping software updated will save money and lot of headaches, in the short term and long term.
Software Maintenance: Strategic Planning for Business Growth
Business leaders have to make key decisions on where to allocate resources: people, equipment, and money. Putting resources towards software often gets pushed aside and given a lower priority, until something goes horribly wrong.
CEOs, business owners, and their CIOs are more focused today on keeping their software updated than they’ve ever been, because they see the value in keeping up with business growth and avoiding falling behind.
When reviewing your software maintenance plan and its strategic focus on business growth, consider the following:
- Revenues and Expenses: Ensure that your software continues to contribute to your desired business outcomes, which likely include acquiring and maintaining new customers and reducing expenses.
- Usage: As the number of users grows, internally and externally, you’ll want your maintenance plan to include scalability in both hardware resources and software capabilities.
- Vendors/Partners: The greater ecosystem around your business - vendors, suppliers, partners, employees, stakeholders, etc. - will require you to be able to add new features and integrations to your software, for which a maintenance plan must be ready.
- Support: Prepare for more bug reports and suggested features from your growing base of users. As your business grows, you’ll need to plan for a system to manage those requests and keep users happy.
- Technology: Software runs on hardware. You’ll need to plan for upgrades as part of your plan, as well as keeping different components of your software packages up to date and on top of security (see below).
- Business Intelligence and Analytics: Keep access to data and reporting on that data updated along with your software. Upgrades are great times to add new reporting requested by your managers and stakeholders.
Budgeting: Maintenance Costs for Software
While CIOs and business owners focus on keeping software on pace with the business’ growth, the CFO needs to include maintenance in the cash budget. Your budget will depend on the factors mentioned above. Your software developer will offer maintenance plans that fit your business goals and help you budget for support and maintenance.
As we mentioned in our Application Maintenance article, there are four types of maintenance to budget for:
- Corrective: Fixing bugs
- Adaptive: Keeping up with technical changes, such as operating systems, platforms, hardware, etc.
- Perfective: Keeping up with the needs of your users and customers
- Preventive: Long-term maintainability and usability
Knowing and planning for those types of maintenance, you will also want to consider the following:
- Required Updates: At a minimum, you’ll need to keep the infrastructure, both hardware and software platforms, up to date.
- Scaling and Growth: Budget for adding capacity, integrations, and features as your base of users grows over time.
- Re-Engineering: As the business grows, the market changes and customer demands change right along with it. Understanding this has kept companies like Google, Apple and IBM strong through many pivots in their industries. Business owners need to plan for re-engineering of software in order to keep up with those changes.
Budgeting for software maintenance and updates will save time and money in the long run, just like oil changes for a vehicle.
Maintain Software Security
It seems like every day now, we read horror stories in the news about hackers, data breaches, and new restrictive regulations out of Europe. The most effective way to keep your customers, intellectual property, and data safe is to keep your software maintained and updated. Each component of your software, from web servers to programming languages to hosting, needs to keep up with security patches.
There are serious risks associated with allowing security vulnerabilities to creep into your software:
- Privacy: The unauthorized access and inadvertent sharing of customer and employee information.
- Data: This is often the target of hackers. Keep your data safe by keeping software patches updated.
- Down time: Down time with your business and your software is a security risk. While you’re down, you may not really know what doors were left open (physically and software).
- Loss of customers, partners, vendors: Customers and vendors are very alert to their security. Hint of a problem can result in an exodus.
- Intellectual Property: Don’t let your competitive edge and the technological advantages you’ve built walk out the front door through a security hole that should have been closed.
The security part of your software maintenance plan might also include training and certifications.
The point we want to send home is that keeping your software, and the infrastructure around it, updated and well maintained should be at the very least as important as maintaining your vehicles and machinery. Your business growth depends on it. Your business’ security and safety, including the security of your employees, customers, and partners, depend on it. Put a maintenance plan in place, budget for it, and make it a priority.
Of course, Ping! Development can make this all simple, with one of our maintenance plans. The first step is a quote.