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How to prepare for software deployment & maintenance

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/niroworld)

Corporate executives and software engineers tend to focus the vast majority of their attention on the design and development stages of the software engineering process. However, the deployment and maintenance stages are just important to the software’s success. That’s because they ensure that the software continues to work smoothly, is updated regularly, and that customer issues are dealt with quickly.

Despite their importance, few executives spend time planning out their software deployment and maintenance strategy, often forcing them to turn to pricey consultants and South American software outsourcing firms for emergency assistance.

Business owners and managers can ensure that their project is set up for success by creating a well-thought-out strategy for their software’s deployment to customers and long-term maintenance.

Why strategize for maintenance?

Finally, end-users must have a group of dedicated software engineers at their disposal who can respond to service tickets, suggestions, and technical questions promptly. Hiring customer-service oriented maintenance developers will help keep a positive customer experience and aid the company in retaining frustrated users.

Many readers are probably asking themselves: “but why is software maintenance necessary?” This crucial step in the software development life cycle is important because it ensures that software continues to perform as designed after its deployment.

Sometimes developers identify bugs weeks or even months after the software has been released to customers. The company must have a dedicated maintenance team ready to rewrite and test the corrected code that seeks to patch those issues.

Maintenance developers shouldn’t just worry about bug fixing - they also have to be well versed in software security and data privacy. That’s because the number of cyberattacks continues to increase in both number and sophistication every year. The best maintenance engineers are committed to staying up-to-date on information security developments and protecting their customers from those threats.

Plan regular code reviews

Regular code reviews are one of the best ways to identify errors in code and in a piece of software before they become a major problem.

While this may sound like a complicated process, it just involves having another software developer look over the code before it is integrated into the software. This is the same as the basic editing process that journalists and other writers go through.

The best project managers will ensure that every original line of code is reviewed by at least another programmer. This will help the team identify mistakes early-on, avoiding embarrassing bugs, and reduce the number of service tickets that maintenance engineers must respond to.

Project managers must continue this process after the development and QA testing stages. All code, including that written during the maintenance stage of the project, should be reviewed by at least one team member. Instituting this type of review during maintenance will prevent seemingly innocuous changes from having major consequences.

Conduct thorough QA testing

One of the most effective ways to promote successful software maintenance is to conduct thorough quality assurance (QA) testing before the software is released to consumers. This will help identify bugs and errors early on, find security flaws and fix them before personal information is compromised, and ensure that the company’s reputation is not harmed because of a poor rollout.

Developers should begin the QA process with functional testing, which is designed to see whether the various components of the software work according to their requirements. Engineers will typically verify user interfaces and workflows, as well as the internal code, design, and data structure.

Next, it’ll be time to conduct performance testing. This approach tests how a piece of software performs under a high workload, mimicking real-world conditions. Developers will pay special attention to the software’s processing speed, reliability, data transfer rates, and workload efficiency.

The two final types of QA testing are automated and manual testing. During automated testing engineers will write programs that can conduct hundreds of testing tasks automatically. On the other hand, manual testing involves hiring scores of testers to simulate end-users and physically click every button and pathway in the program to detect flaws.

Develop an information security response

Information security and data privacy should have its own section within the larger software deployment plan. That’s because, as mentioned above, the number of cyberattacks keeps increasing year after year. In fact, researchers estimate that hackers now attempt to break into a computer “every 39 seconds on average.”

This dangerous reality means that executives must have a data privacy response plan in place long before the software is released. Companies can set their software up for success by integrating cybersecurity into the design itself and by creating a plan for the worst-case scenario: a successful data breach.

The first step in this plan is to assign one or more dedicated cybersecurity experts to this project. These can be in-house employees or a contractor provided by a trusted South American development service. They’ll be responsible for alerting customers, following relevant government regulations, and creating new defences.

In addition, the best companies have an executive-level cybersecurity expert on staff. By elevating this position to the executive team, companies demonstrate their commitment to cybersecurity, empower their data privacy experts, and encourage other departments to assist.

Assign dedicated staff to respond to tickets

The final but perhaps most important step that companies can take to ensure a successful software deployment and maintenance is to assign dedicated team members to respond to service tickets from customers.

This is a crucial step in the maintenance process because it ensures that customer feedback is heard by the development team itself. In addition to the specific complaints, these engineers can look for patterns in them to pre-emptively fix issues that customers have yet to identify.

It’s important to note that these engineers do not need to review every service ticket individually, but they should be prepared to read through the summaries and do additional research and recurring or unique complaints.

In summary

The software development life cycle does not end once the software development is complete. Companies that are focused on producing high-quality software that is free of bugs and vulnerabilities must also thoroughly test their software and create a solid strategy for the software’s long-term maintenance.

Companies can prepare for this stage in the software life cycle by creating a maintenance plan and regularly conducting code reviews, including during the maintenance stage. In addition, managers can also conduct thorough QA testing, or outsource aspects of the QA testing process to a trusted South American software outsourcing service, to find bugs before customers do.

Lastly, the best companies will write out an information security response plan and as well as assign dedicated team members to respond to customer service tickets.

Paul Azorin, Software Architect, BairesDev