What is Software Maintenance?
“Software maintenance is the process of modifying a software system or component after delivery to correct faults, improve performance, or adapt to a changed environment” - The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Simply put, software maintenance is the process where software vendors provide updates, modifications, bug fixes, patches and additional features to existing software solutions to increase performance. Typically software maintenance fees are a small percentage of overall license fees paid on an annual or monthly basis. With traditional on-premises software, a company pays for maintenance fees on an on-going basis, in addition to the initial software license purchase. With cloud-based or hosted software, maintenance fees are usually built into monthly license fees.
This definition of maintenance is a succinct outline of the benefits of software maintenance. Much like your car, software requires periodic refreshes to ensure it continues to run smoothly, as well as preventative maintenance to reduce the occurrence of problems. The benefits of maintenance packages should be obvious, but we have broken them down further below.
Benefits of Software Maintenance:
Software maintenance packages provided by vendors offer peace-of-mind protection by keeping you covered for bugs and software problems. Like any other product, most software packages are under warranty for a specific period of time. Once these warranties expire, however, it may result in paying out of pocket for fixes, much like you would for your vehicle. Maintenance programs allow your software to stay in warranty so you do not have to come up with cash should an error occur. Implementing the right software system is a long term investment and maintaining an active warranty will help to ensure this.
Improved Performance and New Features
Most maintenance programs will include an upgrade component which entitles you to free upgrades – usually once per year. These upgrades often address issues reported by other Software users and can greatly improve functionality and performance. Considering the overall cost of upgrades over time, this component of software maintenance is often all that is necessary to make the program worthwhile. Depending on the vendor, upgrades may also reflect changes requested by customers and any new features that have been added since the last release. This means you receive a system based on the most up-to-date technology, features and software.
Note: If you had any custom work done as part of your original implementation and purchase, make sure to check that this custom work will also be upgraded, and not at an additional cost. Some vendors include all custom work as part of the upgrade – meaning you don’t have to pay extra to have all your custom transfer over to the newest version. However, some vendors will move your custom work, but at an additional cost everytime.
Adapt to a Changing Environment
Technology and the business environment are the two of the fastest changing aspects of our world. It is increasingly important 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 of the time. Regular updates and maintenance will allow you to keep up with market trends and ensure your business is as efficient and effective as it can be.
Predictive Cash Flow
The last benefit, but one of the most significant from a financial perspective, is the ability to gain control over your software expenditure. If you are covered for software bugs and receive regular upgrades, your overall IT expenditures will be reduced to a single monthly (or yearly) fee – your maintenance fee. This eliminates the guessing game of IT expenditure and eliminates large unexpected upfront costs down the road. For on-premises solutions, most maintenance packages range in cost from 15%-22% of total license costs. One of the benefits of cloud-based systems is that these maintenance fees are typically built right into monthly license fees.