When it comes to the lifecycle of a software product, there is perhaps no better meme or quote than Matthew McConaughey in True Detective: "Time is a flat circle."

That's because the life of your software never actually ends once it launches. In reality, the software maintenance lifecycle is on a continuous loop of beginnings.

But before you have an existential meltdown, remember that this is actually a sign of a successful product.

Software is never finished as long as it is used, meaning it is always evolving and adapting to its users and to the world around us.

You can update your software for a variety of reasons: improvements to the software speed, upgrade to the latest release, enhance features or to rework the system for future maintainability, increase security to match new standards, etc.

Regardless of your reason why, software maintenance is vital. To help you better understand the different types of changes your software can go through, it's important to realize that software maintenance is more than just bug fixing. In fact, a study suggests that over 80% of software change is attributed to non bug-related changes.

There are four main types of software maintenance you should know. We'll cover each one so you can understand their role and importance in keeping your software running alright, alright, alright.

  1. Corrective
  2. Adaptive
  3. Perfective
  4. Preventive (Security)

#1. Corrective Software Maintenance

Corrective change, most commonly referred to as “bugs,” is the most typical change associated with maintenance work. Corrective changes address errors and faults in your software that could affect various areas of your software; design, logic or code.

Most commonly, these changes are sprung by bug reports created by users. It is important to note that sometimes problem reports submitted by users are actually enhancements of the system, not bugs.

#2. Adaptive Software Maintenance

Adaptive change is triggered by changes in the environment your software lives in. An adaptive change can be triggered by changes to the operating system, hardware, software dependencies and even organizational business rules and policies. These modifications to the environment can trigger changes within other parts of your software.

The ability to address roadblocks that can affect functionality will set any application apart from competitors. A few examples of adaptive change include updating the server or compilers, modifications to shipping carriers and payment processors, updating third-party libraries, and much more.

#3. Perfective Software Maintenance

Perfective changes refers to the evolution of requirements and features in your existing system. If you're building an MVP (minimum viable product), think of this type of software enhancement type for reaching your version 2.0 goals.

As your software gets exposed in the market to users, they will think of different ways to expand the system or suggest new features that they would like to see as part of the software. These in turn can become future enhancements to the system!

Perfective changes also includes removing features from a system that are not effective and functional to the end goal of the system. In fact, 50-55% of most maintenance work is attributed to perfective changes.

#4. Preventive (Security) Software Maintenance

Preventive changes refer to changes made to increase the understanding and maintainability of your software in the long run. Preventive changes are focused on decreasing the deterioration of your software product and protecting it for future security risks.

It's important to call out Security for this type of software maintenance. Software often has to be patched with the latest versions to avoid vulnerabilities.

In our always-changing world of increased privacy risks, keeping your software product reliably secure is critical.

Restructuring, optimizing code and updating documentation are common preventive changes. Executing preventive changes reduces the amount of unpredictable effects a software can have in the long term and helps it become scalable, stable, understandable and maintainable.

Conclusion: Maintain Your Software

Software Maintenance is an essential part of keeping your software product alive and well. In fact, it's necessary for the success and evolution of your system and goes far beyond bug fixing.

If you're worried about who will help your product along the flat circle of the development cycle, we have a dedicated team ready to help!

Our Voyages team focuses on software enhancement and maintenance for existing products. Tell us more about your project and how we can help to get started.



Start with: What problem are you trying to solve? 

One of the activities we work through revolves around refining your problem statement. A problem statement is the key business problem that needs to be solved. In software development, it states “what has to be done” for a project to succeed. It does not say, “how it has to be done.”

We use the 5W’s + 1 H format as well as the SMART Framework when establishing a problem statement. In fact, you can draft your own problem statement by using our free download. This download will get you thinking through some of the questions and answers prior to starting your project.

Download: Problem Statement
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