You’ve spent months working with developers to create software that meets all your requirements, runs like a dream, and is easy to deploy and configure. It’s time to take a bow and a break, right? Not quite. Launch isn’t the end of the line as software enhancements are essential to keeping that digital product performing, relevant, and supportive.
Software enhancement refer to modifications or improvements made to the software product that provide additional functions, correct defects in earlier versions, or improve the performance, capacity, or capabilities of the software. From a practical perspective, here are some of the many reasons software enhancements are implemented:
Gone are the days when software is built only to be eventually retired or killed off. In today’s cloud-integrated environment, we know software changes. The terms Continuous Delivery (CD), Continuous Integration (CI), and Continuous Quality (CQ) have joined the software development lexicon for a reason. The software delivery pipeline is always open and software enhancements are an important part of that ongoing process.
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For many software products and applications, a software development life cycle (SDLC) is used to govern the process for their creation, deployment, and use. For the unfamiliar, a SDLC defines and outlines a detailed plan with stages, or phases, that each contain their own specific process and deliverables. The stages vary, but generally include components such as planning, analysis, design, building or coding, testing, deployment, and implementation.
As user demands have changed, toggling toward more rapid iterations today, it makes sense for organizations to seek the means to extend the functionality of custom developed software rather than endure rip-and-replace cycles — which are always costly. SDLC has extended with new stages — along the lines of software enhancements, maintenance, and progression — to meet these requirements and now ‘bakes’ in considerations for those stages from the start. In fact, some vendors are now specializing exclusively in application enhancement and maintenance.
But the needs for further, and additional types of, software enhancements, come from two broadly defined sources — Internal and External.
The need for some enhancements will occur somewhat organically within the IT department. These changes can be dictated by a variety of factors. For instance, there could be external platform changes that affect the whole industry. Perhaps new device form factors will soon land in the market, or new application and data compliance developments demand a response.
Software enhancements at this stage center on addressing errors, glitches, bugs, etc. that will be discovered internally. This space also offers a chance to institute better analytics capabilities, storage, or processing speeds if available. Cross-platform compatibility can also be engineered in this stage.
This category of enhancements refers to those that result from user-based requests generated outside of IT. These can be user experience (UX) or user interface (UI) focused, or deal with specifics relating to the core functionality of the application.
These enhancements aren’t always easy to come to grips within the software stack itself. Sometimes users will seek functionalities that don’t fit well inside the current engine, aren’t easy to code, or simply place too heavy a drain on system resources. For example, a sleek transactional product may not be outfitted with enough big data gathering capability while still fulfilling its original role.
Software enhancement rarely plays out in a simple, straightforward path. Instead, such processes can lead to disagreements about the best way forward, or debates about adding enhancements versus the expense of additional development time and/or downtime. It’s also key to remember that software is now in a continuous state of change, and IT staff often swap out internally.
Considering those factors, businesses looking for software enhancement should have a firm grasp, if not a formal assessment or audit, of their internal IT skill sets. Knowing how much you need to rely on external specialists helps clarify different stages and what you can handle in house. In addition, maintaining robust documentation keeps your code stockpile properly categorized and ready for its next change. The right custom software development partner will fully embrace these architectural concepts.
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The software you rely on today will inevitably need to change, more likely sooner rather than later. It’s not too early to think about future software enhancements and should be employed in the process as soon as possible.
At Vault Innovation Group, we’re more than just another custom software development company — we’re a partner in your success. For more than a decade we’ve assisted tech-powered brands, founders, and visionaries in solving design challenges and ship purpose-driven products and software.
Unlike other digital product development companies, our dedication to full-service solutions translates to long-term support after product launch. As user feedback is collected, our team assists in determining which feedback is useful and how to execute it. Our ongoing support capabilities cover everything you need to map out software enhancements to keep your product relevant, efficient, and long-lasting: