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Developing custom software built to last isn't easy — but it can potentially make or break your long-term business success. Business software comes with a lifelong commitment — it makes sense to continuously increase its lifespan and keep it running smoothly for years to come.

In this insight, we share six practical steps that'll help you ensure your business software delivers value in the long term. We also cover the reasons why it's so important — and how much it costs.

What's custom software maintenance all about?

Software maintenance generally means every step of the process of keeping your tech stack in good shape. This ensures that it'll keep running until it needs an upgrade, migration, or replacement. And when it comes to custom software maintenance, this means a smoother business workflow by:

Think a slight hiccup in your software effectiveness is no big deal? Think again. Even minor reductions in efficiency because of outdated tech mean lost time and money. So let's dive into some best practices to help you increase the lifespan of your business software — and how we do this for our clients at TRIGO.

Best practices to increase the lifespan of your business software — with TRIGO

Extending software lifespan can have many faces — but our process at TRIGO includes six practical steps. We run through these each month for every application for our clients:

1. Check all dependencies in use and prioritize

We go through the corresponding changelog and decide whether it's worth updating. This could also mean making a list of what functionalities our clients' teams are using and what they believe are must-haves. With this in place, we can help them determine their budget and time requirements.

2. Update what we find suitable

This could mean ensuring that our clients are using the latest version of their current software and can access all its latest features. We also prioritize keeping software dependencies up to date, along with updating services (like databases) to newer versions.

When you prioritize a consistent schedule of system updates, you:

3. Setting up automated deployment pipelines

Updating software and using the latest features generally means automating a ton of programming functions. Automated deployments are one example: it's how you can securely transport code across the development process while ensuring that it stays functional. This makes your software or application more easily accessible to anyone using it.

When we set up an automated deployment pipeline, it helps our clients:

4. Ensure high-quality code and remove bugs

No matter how good a software development team and process are — eventually, they're going to run into bugs. You might find low-quality code from outdated software architecture, or your team might find it difficult to prioritize fixing it with their workload. But over time, it can slow down your entire development process.

As a part of our quality assurance process for our clients, we prioritize the following:

Even NASA updates its software for spacecraft because of bugs (shocking, right?). Maintaining high-quality code means setting up your business for success. It both increases user satisfaction and keeps your team more productive and agile.

5. Prioritizing data security

This is crucial for your business, especially when it comes to protecting customer data. Outdated software tends to be easier to hack and more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

When we set up a schedule of consistently maintaining your software, we prioritize the data security of our client's entire tech stack. This means building security into all phases of building, testing, and deploying their software. We also check for security-related changes and make sure that we adopt them.

6. Integrate continuous testing

Especially after consistent updates, to ensure that our clients can stay on top of any maintenance or downtime. This can mean testing the parts of their applications affected by updates to ensure their progress during deployments.

How we've increased our clients' software lifespan

With these steps in place, TRIGO builds a scalable roadmap for extending our clients' software lifespan. It's what we call developing a “living system,” or one that continuously updates for the better and doesn't feel like software from the past. You can also read our client's story, Dr. Hartl Autoverleih, and TRIGO's role in digitalizing its services to better compete with multinational companies.

What's an increased software lifespan going to cost?

Creating and continuously maintaining custom business software is a significant investment for your company — and it might not come cheap. But here's our take at TRIGO: maintaining your software is as important as developing it. Regular software maintenance secures your investment by keeping your software up-to-date and delivering value for years to come.

Ongoing software maintenance is usually around 20-25% of your annual business investment, paid as a recurring fee. Here are some factors to keep in mind when considering its costs:

Here's an example: at TRIGO, we offer software maintenance for as low as 10% of our client's annual business investment for simple tools that they don't use frequently.

If upgrading exceeds your budget, you could always try integrating existing applications with your current software. But you might even find this more expensive than transitioning to a new system. In times like these, it's a smart idea to consider a custom tech stack for your business built for long-term success.

Use a custom tech stack that's built to last and deliver with time

A software project doesn't end with completing version one. Instead, extending your software's life cycle is vital to your long-term success. Ongoing software maintenance keeps your tech stack usable for years to come and ensures your business delivers value for the long term.

By capturing every step of the custom software development process, our team helps set up our clients' businesses for success in the long run. We focus on building an ongoing relationship that keeps their time and budget needs in mind — while optimizing their software for minimal disruptions and maximal long-term productivity.

Got an excellent software system but are wondering how to keep it running for the long term? Feel free to hop on a call with me, and get the conversation started.