These are services provided to users to provide technical assistance and support. There are two types of user support: user training and the help desks. User training is provided to train users on a new system. User training may entail training manuals or formal training sessions. Help desk contains professionals who provide constant support to users to do their jobs.
Maintenance management entails ensuring that system operates efficiently, the quality of a system, and controlling costs. Maintenance management is done through a maintenance team, management program, release procedure, and a configuration management process.
Ramesh & Bhattiprolu (2006) explain that configuration management, also known as change control, refers to the process of controlling changes in the requirement of a system during the development process. Configuration management is also vital in managing changes in the system and costs after it is operational.
Version control refers to the process of monitoring system releases. Furthermore, version control entails configuring systems that have several modules at different stages of the release process. An example of a version control system is grit.
A baseline refers to a reference point for measuring the features and performance of a system at a given point. There are three types of baselines such as functional, allocated, and product baseline. Functional baseline consist of the characteristics of a system documented at the beginning of the project such as system requirements (Grubb & Takang, 2003). Allocated baseline consist of system documents during the end of the design phase while product baseline consists of system characteristics at the before the start of system operation.
Fault management refers to the process of looking for signs of any system problems and system failures and applying corrective measures. Fault management can be done using software to identify causes of system failures, expedite the response time, and reduce the occurrence of system failures.
Turnaround time is used to measure the efficiency of IT support services and it is the time when a user sends a request and the resolution of the request. It applies to operations such as customer billing and the processing of credit cards.
Supporting Activity 1: Software Maintenance
Ramesh & Bhattiprolu (2006) elaborate that software maintenance refers to the modifications and updates done on a software after the production process. Software maintenance is done due to various reasons one of them being changes in market conditions that may trigger the need for new modifications. Changing clients needs as well as changes in the operating system may trigger the need for software changes for adaptability purposes. Organizational changes, for instance, venturing into new business and acquiring a new company may trigger the need to modify the software used.
Software maintenance activities should be done sequentially and in an iterative manner (Grubb & Takang, 2003). Identification and tracing are the first maintenance activities that generated by the user that entail identification of the requirement of maintenance. The modification is then analyzed to examine the safety and security effects of modifications. The next step is the designing of new modules according to the requirements specifications of previous stages. Thereafter, the modules are coded in the implementation stage and integration testing conducted on the new modules.
The software is then tested for acceptance among users and any complaints noted to be addressed in the next stage. After the acceptance stage, the system is deployed to various customers. The last stage is maintenance management conducted with the aid of version control tools.
Supporting Activity 2: Commercial Software Maintenance
Commercial software maintenance refers to the process of conducting software maintenance for commercial users such as corporate organizations. Using third party maintenance is one way for commercial software users to reduce maintenance costs. According to Saleh (2009), third party maintenance refers to the support and maintenance activities done by non-original equipment manufacturers. The services provided by these vendors include fixing bugs, performance optimization, and customization support among others. These vendors can lower software delivery costs by half.
Enterprises need to reduce their shelfware to lower their software maintenance fees. Shelfware refers to purchased software that is yet to be deployed but that incur annual maintenance fees (Saleh, 2009). Organizations must only buy the programs that they need to avoid large maintenance costs. Entering into support and maintenance contracts by vendors or third parties is a prudent strategy for commercial software users. Software maintenance agreements allow the contractor to perform all the annual maintenance functions for a year with the user paying the annual maintenance costs. These contracts protect users from the unpredictable systems bugs or failures that may affect performance. However, allowing third party maintenance providers competition to the software manufacturers and can drive maintenance costs down.
Supporting Activity 3: Software Maintenance Types
Grubb & Takang (2003) explain that corrective maintenance tasks correct and identify errors in an operational system. SDLC is the preferable maintenance approach used where the IT professionals conduct the investigation, analysis, design, and testing of reported problems before providing any solutions. An example of a corrective measure is a patch that provides temporary repairs in case of a system failure. Most firms use software such as benchmark testing to measure the performance of a system. Adaptive maintenance refers to the modifications and updates applied to keep a software up-to-date and in line with the changing needs users. This type of maintenance is done by adding enhancements to a system to make it easier to use. The need for adaptive maintenance may be caused due to the emergence of new products and services, and new technology. Although the procedures for adaptive and corrective maintenance are similar, adaptive maintenance requires more resources.
Perfective maintenance entails overhauling an operational system to make it efficient, reliable, and easy to maintain (Grubb & Takang, 2003). The need for perfective maintenance usually comes from IT professionals unlike the need for corrective and adaptive maintenance that comes from users. Perfective maintenance can improve systems reliability and performance. While conducting perfective maintenance, analysts use software re-engineering to identify areas that need to be improved. The last type of maintenance is the preventive maintenance that entails identifying areas where trouble is likely to occur. This type of maintenance often results in increased users satisfaction and reduced downtime.
Supporting Activity 4: Prioritizing Software Maintenance Changes
Prioritizing software maintenance changes is never easy due to different stakeholders demanding diverse change requests. The best way to implement software maintenance changes is to use a change control board to decide the changes that will be implemented and those that will not (Saleh, 2009). The change control board is a group of stakeholders who prioritize the changes to be implemented based on the benefits and costs of each change. The group conducting the change should first agree on the scale of change required to make it easier to agree on what the changes need to be implemented. The prioritization process should be clear and transparent for all stakeholders to understand. The process can be done using management tools such as ReQtest. This management tool helps to identify the change requests that can enhance the maximize business value and minimize the costs of implementation.
Supporting Activity 6: Professional Organizations and Continual Learning
Professional organizations use different software depending on their functions. IT has been an integral part of the business functions of different professional organizations. As a result, the organizational IT costs have risen to unprecedented levels. With the increased spending in the applications, cost cutting strategies are necessary to prevent wastage of resources. Most professional organizations have an IT department charged with the responsibility of addressing all the organizational IT issues. Continual learning is critical in improving existing organizational systems and processes. Organizations must continuously engage their employers in training regimes to improve their skills and productivity. The world is very dynamic and rapidly changing hence, the need for continual learning to develop new ideas and products. Whether it is in the IT sector or in the sectors, research and innovation have become critical.
Supporting 7: Disaster Recovery Plan
The pervasive use of the electronic data sources has necessitated the need for IT disaster recovery plans. Priorities and recovery time objectives should be developed while conducting the business impact analysis (Ramesh & Bhattiprolu, 2006). Businesses, worth small or big create large volumes of electronic data that is important in the operations of business. As a result, organizations must develop technology recovery strategies to restore hardware and data. Data backup and restoration of electronic information is, therefore, important. Compiling a disaster recovery plan should begin by analysis of the hardware such as servers, desktops, software applications and business data (Grubb & Takang, 2003). It is important to copy copies of software used to allow for the installation and replacement of software. The plan should prioritize the restoration of business hardware and applications.
Grubb, P., & Takang, A. A. (2003). Software maintenance: Concepts and practice. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd.
Ramesh, G., & Bhattiprolu, R. (2006). Software maintenance: Effective practices for geographically distributed environments. New Delhi: Tata Mcgraw-Hill.
Saleh, K. A. (2009). Software engineering. Ft. Lauderdale, FL: J. Ross Pub.
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