When building new software to supplement their businesses, most people have some sort of long-term goal for their applications. Rarely does anyone have an app developed with the intent of running it temporarily. A software application is an investment that the owner wishes to see grow and prosper over many, many years. Therefore, as an app owner, you need to have certain application maintenance and support protocols in place.
First, let us go over the software development process and its various stages. Then, we will go over the key reasons why application maintenance and support services are an important part of app development.
The Process of App Development
In the first half of this write-up, we will talk about the typical software development process, which involves five basic steps.
Step 1: First, you need to conduct proper research into your app and define what you want to accomplish with the final product. You explore your options, compare your ideas with potential competitors, research the market, and then decide whether your app idea is viable or not. In this stage, you also need to clearly define your vision for this software application. Then comes the question of budgets and timelines.
Regardless of the development method you choose to follow, estimating your costs and deadlines plays a crucial role in the execution of your software product idea.
Step 2: Once the idea for your app is finalized and you know the direction that you want it to go in, you must come up with a suitable and relevant design for it. This involves not only laying out the outward appearance of your software application but also designing the overall experience you want to give to the users who choose to use your app.
Step 3: Then comes the development phase, in which the design and concept from the first two phases are translated into a real working application via extensive coding (also known as programming). The developers will create a front end (user-facing side of the app) and a corresponding back end (where all the hidden functions happen that make the front end do what it is meant to do).
Step 4: When programming is complete, you will require expert QA engineers and testers to check your app thoroughly for any bugs (errors) or flaws. They will prepare your software for launch.
Step 5: Now that your software is free of errors, it is ready to be released to your target market. At this stage, you can employ suitable marketing tactics to make sure that your software reaches its intended audience. For mobile apps, it is typical to launch them on the Android and/or iOS app store.
Is that all there is to the development process? NO!
Bonus 6th step: The last phase in the software development process involves the maintenance and support for the completed app. Many clients think that the fifth stage wraps up the software development lifecycle and do not think they would require any further application maintenance services. This signifies a weighty oversight on their part.
What do you plan to do with your app now that it is in the market, being used by hundreds or thousands of people? You wouldn’t just abandon your project and let all the hard work go to waste, would you? Head over to the next section to read about why application support services and regular maintenance can play a pivotal role in the prosperity of your software product.
Why Application Maintenance and Support Is Paramount
While there is a long list of reasons why app support and maintenance is a critical part of the SDLC, we will talk about the three most important ones below.
Provide Consistent Support to Users
Once your app is released in the market, you would want to make sure that it stays up and running. If at any point after the release, the users run into even a minor problem, it would reflect badly on your business and the brand image you might have spent years curating. With the global influence of technology on our daily lives, even the slightest downtime could cause serious losses to your business. As patience runs thin and attention spans shorten, users are quick to look into substitute products and services.
With dedicated application support services, you can tackle such a situation efficiently and effectively. With a support team on standby, you can cater to each and every user’s needs as required. If they are facing trouble using your app, your team can help them out with live support via call, chat, or email, as deemed suitable according to the level of seriousness and urgency. If the team at hand is unable to address a certain user’s troubles on the go, you can advance their fault report to level 2 or level 3 support teams so that the core issue can be fixed as quickly as possible.
This factor is also partially linked to the previous point where we discussed the rapidly evolving consumer behavior which most users exhibit these days. General user behavior indicates that they would prefer to use an app that is compatible with all kinds of platforms and mobile devices and does not become irrelevant after some time.
There are two aspects of application maintenance and support that are relevant to our discussion. The first one pertains to the independent growth of your app. (Read extra-carefully if you are a startup owner!) When the popular social media application Facebook was first launched, do you think it had the extensive audience that it does now? Absolutely not! It has grown over the years, as more and more people signed up and became regular users. The company now invests heavily in the mobile app as well as the website. The same concept can apply to all kinds of software products. As your user base increases, you will have to update your app so it can handle the increased technical loads. The second aspect is related to the way that technology has been advancing, especially over the last few years. With digital growth, your app should offer its users a seamless experience that is in touch with the latest trends.
Thus, application maintenance services play an essential role in making sure that your app stays in the game and does not lag behind.
Fix Cyber-Security Lapses
Another major reason why every app needs to be regularly updated is the fact that cybercrime keeps evolving by the second. Attackers keep coming up with innovative ways to compromise app security and access private information. To make sure that your app provides a safe experience to your users, it is extremely crucial to make regular security updates to your app as part of your application maintenance and support protocol.