What does software maintenance cost?
Software maintenance is an integral part that follows the software development phase. It involves looking after the performance of the software, fixing bugs/errors, managing upgrades, and so on. Through software maintenance, you will be able to relate to your customer’s needs. Software that is not maintained well will be faulty and keep hanging, and eventually, the customers will find it difficult to access the different features of the app. The software has to be user-friendly, intuitive, responsive, and adaptable. If it is not, then they go into the bin. If you are investing in a software application, then you must be ready to upgrade it regularly. The hows and whens will all depend on what kind of software you have, and what features you want integrated into them.
Before going into the costs involved in software maintenance, it would be good to go through the different kinds of maintenance a software needs. Let’s go through those:
Different types of software maintenance
There are four types of software maintenance
Through corrective maintenance, you will be able to spot any errors that the users might experience while using the app. So it mainly addresses the bugs within the software application and how they affect the design, logic, and code. Corrective maintenance happens after deployment.
Sometimes, the software will have to adapt to the changes that happen in the external environment, like new operating systems, software dependencies, different hardware platforms, and when the environment of the software changes. As part of adaptive maintenance, you will have to make modifications like changing the vendors, adapting to government policies or business roles, payment processes, etc. With adaptive maintenance, you can ensure the software is adapted to the changing operating environment.
This probably sounds self-explanatory. The purpose of the software is to detect and correct software bugs and errors before they reach the users. It is like future-proofing the software so when you want to scale the software at any point in time it can be done easily, and by fixing the latent faults so they don’t turn into operational faults. The user can see the changes made to the software when preventative maintenance is done, especially when the user base increases suddenly.
Perfective Maintenance is needed to enhance the software’s functionality and usability. It will work on the present features of the software, deleting old ones, and adding new features. So the work might take longer than expected and could be a bit elaborate.
Changes will be made both in the backend and front end, where the front-end changes will be deeply felt, and might not be accepted by the users unless they are kept in the loop of what’s happening.
Software maintenance tools used
Software maintenance is part automated and part manual. And you have tools to automate the software maintenance process. The cost for these tools would of course vary with the type of tools that you use. These tools help software engineers to better their productivity, gather accurate data, detect bugs, and manage the software successfully.
JIRA – This is a project management tool that would help developers identify and track bugs in the software.
Jenkins – This is an open-source automation server for automating the different software development processes like testing and deployment.
Git – Git is an open-source version control system and it allows developers to work collaboratively, track the changes in their software code, and even roll back, making it easier for them to fix errors and bugs.
Selenium – An automated testing tool to help developers automatically test software applications.
SonarQube – This is a good tool to help measure the quality of the code, line by line to see whether the required quality standards are met.
Splunk – A real-time tool where you can track and analyze problems and bugs, enabling faster resolution of issues.
The costs of software maintenance
So now that you know the different kinds of maintenance required for software, it would be easier to navigate through the other factors that affect the cost of maintenance.
Let’s check those factors:
Hiring people for software maintenance
You need the right people on the team to get the work done successfully. The team takes up a significant portion of the software maintenance expenses. You need to pay those people, so the cost would be mostly salary, overhead expenses, compensation, etc. The main people you need on the team are:
Developers – To identify and fix defects, do the upgrades, and improve the software. The salary or the hourly rate would depend on the skill level of the developer and from where you are hiring them. If you are looking for excellent work done at economical rates, then you hire from the Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in India.
System Administrators – You need system administrators to manage the hardware aspect, the infrastructure, and the deploying employment.
QA Team – It is important to have a Quality Assurance team because they will validate the changes made and make the software work optimally with the new changes. There will be QA labour costs, especially for extensive regression testing.
Using various tools and infrastructure
Costs will also incur in the various tools and infrastructure. Check out the different kinds of tools you might need for software maintenance.
Version Control Systems like Git, SVN, etc.
- Testing tools for performance testing, automated testing, and so on.
- Monitoring tools to detect bugs and fix them like Jira or Bugzilla.
- Security and Compliance of the Software. It is imperative to ensure the security and compliance of the software applications. So you need to conduct regular security audits to identify and address the potential security vulnerabilities and Compliance audits to check whether the new upgrades can comply with the regulatory requirements.
- Getting the licensing and support is another factor. You need to consider the licensing and support costs, which are usually done by third parties. There will be software licenses and support contracts with software vendors for technical support, and that could incur costs.
Factors affecting the cost of software maintenance
You also need to consider certain factors that affect the cost of software maintenance. Here they are:
- Age of the software; it would be expensive to maintain legacy systems
- Software complexity; complex software with intricate interdependencies could be costlier to maintain
- Scalability; non-scalable apps might require constant adjustments
- Quality of development; High-quality apps with clean, maintainable code will have lesser maintenance costs
- The frequency of updates; the higher the frequency of upgrades, the higher the costs.
Apart from the factors that we mentioned above, the app hosting server will also incur costs. It could range from $70 to $400 depending on the kind of software yours is. The monthly software maintenance costs could on the basic level be $5000 and depending on the requirements could go higher.
The author: Sascha Thattil works at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT department.