Friday, September 21, 2007

EDSK ... how long the software being developed will need to be supported

Every developer should know how long the software being developed will need to be supported.

First off, lets get the exceptions out of the way. If the software being developed is a small, one off application, which serves a single purpose and will only be used by a single person, there is a chance that it may never need supporting. In such a case it will normally be sufficient to just keep a copy of the source code and
any specification documents.

So what do I mean by 'software needing to be supported'?
Simple. It's everything after the software is finished and delivered to the user.

This includes:
- Helping installing the software.
- Answering questions about the software.
- Fixing bugs.
- Adding new features.

Why is this important?

Because time taken in support is time that can't be spent on other software or a new version of the software.

If you aren't accounting for supporting previously created software when planning subsequent work or determining how much to charge for the software, problems are likely to follow.

It is also likely to matter to the person buying the software. They will have expectations about how long support will be available for. As part of managing the relationship with the customer and their expectations it is important to be clear about this. And this is sometihng that can only be done if it has been thought through.

What do you do once you know this?

Make sure that you plan for support and are always have sufficient resources and knowledge to do so.

What do you think?
Is this something every developer should know? Have you say in the comments.


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