Think Software Maintenance is Expensive? Here’s Why It’s Worth the Investment.

February 23, 2023
Floppy Disc on a desk.

The world of software and software development moves at lightning speed. Every day, new tools are introduced. Languages and frameworks are upgraded. App store requirements change. Operating systems are updated. New hardware is announced.

So, what happens if the software world evolves but your software codebase doesn’t?

Development Tools Chain Reaction

Development tools continue to evolve with new versions released periodically. Using the latest version of a tool may be optional or may be mandatory. Apple’s App Store, for example, requires that apps are built using the latest version of XCode. Upgrading XCode causes a chain reaction that forces new versions of SDKs and frameworks, such as Xamarin or Google Analytics. New SDKs and frameworks may force newer versions of libraries that support them. And on and on.

These updates may cause incompatibilities (known as breaking changes) in the product code, necessitating maintenance in unexpected sections of the code.

When development tools are out of date, small changes can turn into big changes.

Security Requirements Change

Every day, new threats and vulnerabilities are discovered. Without security updates, you could expose your users to attacks or even loss of data. Keeping your security requirements current is essential for protecting users and maintaining data integrity. By regularly evaluating your security practices, you can stay one step ahead and ensure that your organization stays safe. As with development tools, if left too long, small changes can turn into big changes.

Platforms Change

Just as with development tools, software platforms also evolve. New features are exposed. Existing features are upgraded or may even be removed. New permissions may be required to access features. As with tool changes, breaking changes may necessitate maintenance in unexpected areas of the code. 

Hardware platforms also evolve. Bigger screens and higher resolution may improve the appearance of your user interface or may highlight flaws in its design. Better processors and more memory enable more complex computation and storage.

New platform features provide opportunities for your product to evolve in ways you hadn’t anticipated. Failing to leverage them can put you at a competitive disadvantage.

Users Have Opinions

Online forums are a great way to get feedback from existing and potential users. Not only can they provide valuable insight into how people use your app, but also what can be improved or added in order for more people to use it. Additionally, old or unresolved comments could be a sign of how serious you are about maintaining your product and providing the best experience for users. So don’t forget to check up on your forums every once in a while!

Developers Get Stale

The longer developers are away from a codebase, the more time they will need to (1) refamiliarize themselves with the code and (2) relearn the nuances of the product domain. Regulatory requirements bring nuance to the codebase that new developers may overlook. With time, the  “why” of design decisions could be forgotten.

Keeping up with the ever-evolving landscape of development tools and platforms can be  expensive and challenging. But ignoring software maintenance can be even more costly. Small changes snowball into big changes. Breaking changes create work in unintended areas of the code. We know how difficult it can be to stay current, and we’re here to help. Our experienced team can give you the advice you need when it comes to maintaining your codebase, as well as helping you take advantage of any new features or updates that could benefit your users.

  • Do you have an app that needs a little maintenance? 
  • Have an idea for a feature that your users would love? 
  • Need help figuring out how you can keep up with software maintenance and not break your budget? 

SEP’s Maintenance and Evolution team can help.

Let’s Talk!