The demand for software applications has skyrocketed in the past few years. With more and more companies embracing the digital shift, they need advanced software modules to automate the workflow. A high-quality software app is designed to automate various management operations, ranging from HR & payroll to accounting. QuickBooks, for example, is your all-in-one software app for streamlining bookkeeping.
With QuickBooks, you no longer need to hire multiple accountants to oversee different accounting operations in your firm. Similarly, HR management software comprises a broad range of features that help you with recruiting, employee onboarding, distributing payroll, accepting employees’ leave applications, and so on.
A business has to pay an upfront cost of the software installation, as well as a fixed monthly fee for its maintenance. You must have installed a modern software application that streamlines a variety of hectic manual tasks, but your software needs regular maintenance and support from time to time. In order to ensure the smooth functioning of your automated tools and apps, it is important that you work closely with an IT company.
This leads us to the question, what exactly are software maintenance and software support? How do they differ? And, why do you need these services? In this post, we are going to walk you through the difference between Software Maintenance And Support Services. We have mentioned how IT infrastructure works, how you know if you need software support or maintenance, and how these services differ.
Below we have listed the importance of software maintenance and the reasons you need to schedule support & maintenance as often as possible. First, we have discussed the details of each service. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Software Maintenance: What it Includes, Benefits, Cost, and Process
Software maintenance consists of a series of procedures to improve the functioning of a software app after it has been launched. It can be performed for many reasons — from fixing bugs to making tweaks so that the software aligns with your company’s objectives and customers’ needs. Businesses also schedule maintenance to improve the software performance and ensure that it’s up-to-date. Maintenance is part of the software development cycle.
A software designer and developer don’t have the luxury of launching a new product in the market, selling it to the customers, and then driving their focus to other development projects. They are supposed to oversee the working of this application to ensure that it is running smoothly and offer all that a developer claimed during the launch. Maintenance doesn’t end after a few modifications and fixing a bug that might show up occasionally. It is rather a consistent process. Some developers get paid for software maintenance, while others include the maintenance charge in the product’s purchase price. A developer has to conduct software testing regularly. This is done to ensure that the software remains relevant.
The right maintenance techniques will help keep the software in good condition. Moreover, it makes your software competitive. Here are the four popular types of software maintenance services.
1. Corrective Maintenance
Even the most advanced and well-built software app can have bugs. When a user experiences a problem using a part of the software or the entire app, they will report it to the developer and request a quick fix. Corrective maintenance, also known as bug maintenance, is the most typical form of software maintenance (not only for software but nearly all products).
Even a small defect in the piece of software can have a tremendous impact on the overall functionality of the app. These errors must be addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible so that users can resume their management operations like usual. The software developer might detect these issues on their own and fix them before a user complains, or the user may have to report the bug. Either way, corrective maintenance must be a regular service and part of the software vendor’s job.
Corrective maintenance must not be confused with software support service. While it may indicate urgent repair, this maintenance mostly covers minor bugs that you can fix over the course of 4-5 months (and longer, depending on the type and complexity of the error).
2. Preventative Software Maintenance
The software runs on various operating systems. Any change in the operating system — even a small upgrade — can affect the software function. For instance, you might not be able to use all features, or you may simply experience trouble handling some parts of the software. That’s where preventative measure comes into the picture. As the name suggests, it includes maintenance steps that keep your software running.
With this form of maintenance, a user aims to anticipate the effects of the changing operating systems or other devices on the software. Based on this data, people make changes to the software so that it keeps functioning like usual. The maintenance includes upgrades, small modifications, and other changes to the system. It also covers small bugs that seem insignificant initially but have the potential to become a major problem in the future. Put it this way, preventative maintenance is performed to detect and correct latent faults at an early stage so that they do not become effective faults later.
3. Perfective Software Maintenance
Perfective maintenance is performed after the product delivery to check whether it aligns with the client’s goal and what can be done to improve the product’s functionality. In the software development industry, perfective maintenance refers to the software engineering services after it is launched. Once a developer releases an application to the public, they will receive suggestions for new features, change in the working of the system, and creative ways to make the software as effective as possible.
A user may want to incorporate new functionalities into the software so that it fits their individual goals. That’s what perfective maintenance is for. It involves adding new features to the app and removing the existing modules no longer relevant to the client’s requirements. The goal is to keep the software competitive and relevant to the business, even after years of installation.
4. Adaptive Software Maintenance
Many things can affect the software function in a variety of ways. For instance, an operating system upgrade might no longer support the older version of the software. Changes in the product or business policy may interfere with particular software. Not to mention, integration with third-party tools or hardware systems may also affect the functioning of a software application.
For example, if the hardware is not compatible with the software, the software won’t work. Through adaptive software maintenance, the developer aims to make changes to the software so that it keeps running despite the changes in hardware, operating system, business policy, etc.
Cost of Software Maintenance
There is no fixed cost of software maintenance, although regular maintenance can cost up to 50% of the upfront cost of installation. The fees can go up to $320 a month and higher depending on the level of maintenance you need, frequency, and complexity. Note that older software requires more maintenance than its newer counterparts. It’s harder to ensure the compatibility of an old software app with modern technology.
Besides that, engineers might face difficulty in pinpointing the exact cause of the problem. As a result, it takes them several hours to identify the error and develop a solution. When buying software, you must accept the maintenance cost into consideration. Software becomes obsolete if it is not maintained well.
What is Software Support? When Do You Need It, Benefits, and Cost
Software support refers to the IT services that fix a broken software system or correct an error in a software product. A support group doesn’t work with the company on a regular basis. In fact, you may not need software support for years. Unlike maintenance, the scope of support service is limited to fixing small and major bugs in the software. The role of a software support service provider is to scan the system, identify the problems, and offer the most reliable solution.
Services Offered by a Software Support Team
A software support service provider may have extensive knowledge of integrating new features into the application. They may also help you integrate your software with third-party apps. These engineers take a close look at the software to identify the areas that can be improved. However, a software support company may not build new functionalities for the application. They can only help implement new functions, migrate certain modules into new software, merge two software apps, and remove the modules that are no longer useful for your business.
Your software maintenance provider is responsible for performing a complete software audit. Based on this, they recommend the necessary improvements that might improve the functioning of your system. However, a software support company can also offer these services. If your maintenance company isn’t helping, you can reach out to an IT support department to upgrade your software and recommend the most viable improvement plans.
For small or major bugs that need a quick fix, a software support company can help. They identify the root cause of the problem and develop a comprehensive plan to offer you a long-term solution. They can fix just about any kind of error — whether a complex issue that affects the working of the entire system or minor bugs that can be fixed in a few hours. However, most IT support teams offer a temporary fix. This means you can’t count on them for help if another problem occurs.
In addition to fixing the bugs in your software, a software support company can review your system and offer paid consultancy. They might evaluate each feature and module of your software and prepare a report based on their findings. You must be wondering why to hire an outsider for software consultancy when you have a maintenance team.
A software maintenance company is often the one that launched the software, so they will never recommend a better variant. Hiring an outsider makes sense if you are planning to replace your software with something better and more comprehensive. A software support company will check all aspects associated with the software and help you find the best replacement.
Advanced Technical Support
Software support covers all types of technical faults in the system, including but not limited to, an outdated module, a defect, incompatibility with the third-party apps, and security-related problems. Even if the company hasn’t launched the software, they know the ins and outs of nearly all types of modern software apps and can help you fix a wide range of bugs. You can reach out to a software support service provider to enhance the security features or upgrade your system to the latest version. That being said, some software support companies may not help you with anything other than bug fixes. So, it is best to check the job scope of the company before hiring them.
Cost of Software Support Service
Like maintenance services, software support providers have varying fees. The total you pay for this service depends on the type of support you need, how many hours the IT team spends on your application, and the experience of the company. As compared with the software maintenance provider, a support team charges a reasonable price and it’s much lesser than the monthly maintenance fee.
The best part is that you may not need software support service at all. Some maintenance companies take care of all bugs, upgrade requirements, and other features, helping you deal with just about any issue that you might face when working with the software. They also plan the best course of action for software maintenance, so that it keeps running flawlessly.
Software Maintenance Vs Software Support
The software support provider has a limited scope. They are hired for emergency requirements, especially when there is a serious issue in the system that needs an immediate fix. They are capable of repairing software that isn’t functioning optimally, whether it is a technical default or a major bug. A support company may or may not be able to resolve the issue. Since they have not developed the software, there is a chance they might refer you to the software vendor or a more specialized IT group.
The maintenance company, on the other hand, specializes in fixing nearly all kinds of errors in the app. As mentioned above, a software maintenance provider may have to oversee various functions of the software app, ranging from preventative maintenance to adaptive maintenance. The maintenance job has a wider scope and covers all aspects of the software.
Types of Clients
A software support service provider works in the IT group that helps fix a wide range of software problems. They can work on software developed by their in-house team, as well as, other vendors. As a software support provider, you may have multiple clients that have different types of software solutions installed on their premises. Even if you have not built the software, you can help repair it or make changes to the system so that it works well with third-party apps.
A maintenance company, on the other hand, serves clients whom they have supplied the software product. They specialize in specific industries. For example, a software vendor might have ample experience in designing HR management software, but they may not understand the working of a point-of-sale system. Basically, the software vendor is hired as the maintenance provider. Since they have a good understanding of the system and its functioning, it is obvious that they can handle it better than anyone.
So, a maintenance company caters to the clients who have purchased their software. It may include a single client that ordered customized software or multiple clients who bought the software online.
A software maintenance company has to provide regular service to their clients. Once you have sold your product to someone, you have to ensure it works well and continues running efficiently for a long time. For working constantly on the software, implementing new features, removing irrelevant functions, and fixing errors, it is obvious you will charge a high fee.
A software support provider will charge a reasonable rate, as their job involves fixing small errors. Still, some companies may quote a very high price. For all types of incident-based support services, you have to pay on the go. A maintenance company, however, charges a fixed fee every month (no matter how often you need them or how they help you).
If you install a business software (whether an online software application or an on-premises system), you need to hire a maintenance company that can check its function, make upgrades, fix errors, and handles every aspect of the system efficiently.
You may also need additional support from time to time. Your software vendor might refer you to a professional IT service provider specializing in specific types of bugs that can’t be corrected by your maintenance team. Hope this post cleared the difference between software support and maintenance.