How a ‘Bucket of Hours’ Can Benefit Your Software Product Maintenance Plan

May 10, 2023
Developer looking at code on laptop and mobile phone screens

Why are we talking about software product maintenance plans?

Maybe you just launched your latest killer app. Or maybe you have legacy software that it hasn’t stood the test of time. Wherever you are on the spectrum of very old to very new software, you would benefit from having a software product maintenance plan.

Software is Never Done

Modern software starts life as a less-than-fully-featured release called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The MVP validates the product’s benefit at a lower initial investment. Later iterations leverage customer feedback to flesh out the product incrementally.

Eventually, we declare, “Development is complete!!” Does this mean we’re done? Are there features that would make the product even more successful? Are the users happy? Is it bug-free?

Users Get Smarter

Great software changes people’s lives. It changes the way they think about things, and it changes the way they do things. Some of those changes are predictable. Many are not.

I reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow.
                                                                              – John Layden

Product Managers Get Smarter

Through analytics and user feedback, we learn whether the product is meeting its goals. We generate ideas for improvement. We focus them into a roadmap or release timeline. We are ready to evolve the product.

Developers Get Smarter

New hardware and software platforms create opportunities to craft user experiences to delight our users. New frameworks and methodologies improve the tools our developers use to deliver those experiences more beautifully and quickly.

Software Product Maintenance Plan Agreements

All software needs maintenance. Traditional maintenance agreements may only provide reactive support. The support team reacts when something breaks—fix a bug, restart a cloud service, or check compatibility with a new version of Android, iOS, or Windows.

The Other Type of Software Support

Proactive support, or Evolution, recognizes that software is never done. It must continually grow and adapt. Proactive support leverages Learn, Focus, Discover activities to Deliver new and exciting user experiences. We leverage smarter users, managers, and developers to evolve the product to delight existing users and attract new ones.

In our experience, Evolution is more necessary, costly, and time intensive than Maintenance. But, it provides more return on your support dollars by retaining and expanding your customer base.

Combining Maintenance and Evolution Using a ‘Bucket of Hours’

Software maintenance engagements can take many forms. Our clients often get the most value from what SEP calls a ‘Bucket of Hours.’ This Maintenance and Evolution engagement pairs the access to developers and the predictable cost of a traditional maintenance team with the flexibility and capacity of a traditional development team.

As your priorities change, the team focus changes:

  • Need more support to develop a new feature?
    The team grows to meet that need.
  • Need less support while reviewing user feedback?
    We’re here when you need us. If we’re not working, you’re not getting billed.
  • Need to react to a bug?
    The team will respond.

With Bucket of Hours, you pay for the hours as you use them. When you have fewer support needs in a month, your support bill is lower. When you need more support—like building a new feature—you have more hours in your bucket and still only pay for those used that month.

What’s the Catch?

For most Bucket of Hours engagements, the development team supports multiple clients. Typically, we structure the team so that there is always someone available for emergencies. Larger needs, like building new features, may be slightly delayed until more developers are available.

Don’t worry, though; we’ll be open and honest if we can’t start your feature work right away. Transparency and communication are key to making this a great experience. We’ll go through the details before we start.

Where do I start with a software product maintenance plan?

We know there’s no one size fits all, especially when it comes to software. Let our experienced team customize a bucket of hours plan to maintain and evolve your software product.

Let’s take your software product to the next level.

We love to geek out about product design and delivery. Tell us where you’re stuck.

Let’s Talk »

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