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Project Management

A Comprehensive Guide to Transferring Your Project to the Support & Maintenance Team

date: 29 September 2020
reading time: 9 min

Every ending is the beginning of something new. This may sound like a cliché but, on the other hand, it also describes exactly what happens whenever a development team hands a project over to the support and maintenance (Support & Maintenance) team. One group of processes is coming to an end while another one is just about to begin.

Maintenance phase of software development life cycle: a key information

The maintenance phase in software development is a crucial part of the process that takes place after the software is released.

It involves important behind-the-scenes work that keeps the software code up-to-date. You can think of it as the essential upkeep that ensures the software not only works but also thrives in the long term.

However, transferring an IT project to another team can be a pretty challenging and complex process, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first glance – that’s why we’ve prepared this ultimate checklist of best practices for you.

Why is software maintenance important?

The software maintenance process is crucial because it extends beyond fixing bugs to ensuring the software adapts to rapidly changing technologies and market demands. It involves updating features, aligning with new trends like cloud migration, and adjusting to an organisation’s evolving needs.

This ongoing process is essential for the software to remain functional, relevant, and effective, playing a key role in the success and resilience of a business.

Submitting a project to Support & Maintenance - what are the options?
Submitting a project to Support & Maintenance – what are the options?

What are the 4 types of Software Maintenance?

There are four types of software maintenance tasks, and each serves a unique purpose in the software’s lifecycle, helping it adapt, evolve, and stay reliable, no matter how the digital landscape or user requirements change.

Together, they ensure that software not only functions effectively but also remains relevant in an ever-evolving technological environment.

Corrective software maintenance

When something goes wrong – think bugs or glitches – corrective maintenance steps in to fix the issues. It’s all about addressing faults and errors to keep the software running smoothly. The aim here is not just to fix problems as they arise but, ideally, to catch them before they even reach the user.

This proactive approach can really boost a company’s reputation for reliability.

Preventative software maintenance

The goal of preventative software maintenance is to foresee and fix potential future problems before they actually become issues. It involves making changes, upgrades, and tweaks to nip small, seemingly insignificant issues in the bud, preventing them from growing into bigger headaches down the line.

It’s about maintaining the software’s health for the long haul, ensuring it remains stable and efficient.

Perfective software maintenance

This type of maintenance projects is all about evolution and staying in tune with user needs. Once software hits the market, new needs and ideas emerge. Perfective maintenance involves adding new features that users want and removing those that are no longer useful.

It’s a bit like tailoring a suit to fit perfectly; the software is continually adjusted to be the best tool for its users, staying relevant as market and user needs evolve.

Find out more about designing IT solutions tailored to user requirements:

Adaptive software maintenance

Adaptive maintenance is necessary when there are changes in the software’s environment, such as operating system updates, hardware modifications, or policy shifts.

Its primary purpose is ensuring that the software can adapt to these changes and function effectively in its new environment.

Preventive Maintenance vs Corrective Maintenance
Preventive Maintenance vs Corrective Maintenance

Software maintenance cost and strategies

Software maintenance costs can consume a significant portion of the budget, usually around 20-25% of the annual license. It is wise to balance investing in new features and handling unexpected issues to keep these expenses under control.

Moreover, getting a good grasp on how your software system or product might change or face challenges is crucial while tailoring a maintenance budget specifically for your software’s needs also helps in managing expenses wisely.

Starting off with a focus on quality, along with comprehensive testing and clear documentation, can save a lot of headaches in the future. It is also wise to employ effective software maintenance strategies like configuration management.

If you’re looking to cut costs further, consider bringing in third-party maintenance teams or outsourcing some of the maintenance work. These steps not only help control costs but also keep your software in top form throughout its life.

Best practices for transferring a project to the Support & Maintenance Team

Transferring a project to the Support & Maintenance Team? It’s really important to get this right.

Following best practices during this handoff is key to ensuring the project remains high-quality and runs smoothly under the maintenance team’s care.

1. Knowledge transfer

Proper documentation of software evolution

  • The Support & Maintenance team should present the development team with a very clear documentation outline so they know what to deliver – point by point.

  • Documentation should be as detailed and neat as possible in order to introduce any new user to the project flawlessly. Information must be complete and leave no room for any guesswork.

  • Documentation also needs to be centralised since having just one source of knowledge helps to prevent chaos and confusion. Users cannot be distracted by having to look for answers in many different places as it just draws out the process, making it longer and more complicated.

Technical side of software maintenance process

The development team has a few technical things to take care of before the Support & Maintenance team can move and act freely within the software project.

First and foremost, they have to:

  • provide access to project resources,

  • create accounts with the requested permission levels,

  • set up local environments or create procedures for building one so the new team is able to do this by themselves.

Verification of regular maintenance tasks

Before the support and software project maintenance team can move forward with their tasks, they have to confirm and verify everything that they have received from the developers – in close collaboration with the development team.

  • All procedures should be checked and tested, including deployment processes, local setups, and crucial database procedures.

  • It’s also very important to go through every aspect of the documentation and double-check the status of shared knowledge so that the Support & Maintenance team can be sure that they are ready to take over the project.

4 Cancer Central

2. Communication

Communication is key to success – for every project, business and nonbusiness-related situation. It is no different in this case.

However, the challenge here lies in maintaining the same level of communication and engagement on both teams – the one handing over the project and the one that will be taking over.

  • The Support & Maintenance team should let the development team know exactly what they need from them: their requirements and expectations, how detailed the documentation should be and, of course, what they’re missing in a pinch.

  • The development team, on the other hand, should be highly responsive during the knowledge transfer process as well as the early support stages. Every Support & Maintenance team question should be addressed, and each reported problem should be solved as quickly as possible.

Of course, feedback, questions, discussions and suggestions have to go through certain communication channels according to the procedures that everyone has agreed upon. This makes it easier to maintain transparency and order.

3. Plan the software project maintenance

We have some additional good practices and tips for you that are not directly related to knowledge transfer or communication issues but can be critical to transferring a project between these two teams in the most efficient way possible.

Here they are:

  • Start the process early on
    In other words, the sooner, the better. This way, the members of the support and maintenance team can get enough time to learn all the technical and business aspects of the project. Don’t wait for the developers to finish their part of the job first – let the Support & Maintenance team jump into it as early as possible.

  • Assign transition owners
    Each side of the transition should assign one Transition Owner. These people will be responsible for transferring the project within the areas belonging specifically to their teams. They are the leaders of the process.

  • Organise Show & Tell meetings
    The development team should have a series of meetings with the Support & Maintenance team – so they can introduce them to all the project details in both the business and technical domains. They have to make sure that teams share the same level of understanding and that everything is as clear as can be. It’s good to organise an in-person meeting, or if this is not an option, a video conference will suffice.

  • Break the project takeover process into smaller, time-boxed stages
    This way, the support and maintenance team will be able to gradually ease into the project and have some time to master everything they need to take full control over the processes.

    Stage 1: the Support & Maintenance team should just watch and learn now – this usually takes about 1-2 weeks.

    Stage 2: the Support & Maintenance team can start working with someone from the development team – we call this “shadowing”, and it takes place between the 2nd and the 4th week.

    Stage 3: the Support & Maintenance team is ready to work on their own – this usually happens after 4 weeks.

    Please note: this is the average time for each stage, which may differ for you depending on the size and complexity of your project.

How to manage a software maintenance team?

Managing a maintenance team during the transition of a project to support and maintenance involves several critical steps.

Here’s a refined approach:

  1. Emphasise Solid Documentation: Documentation is crucial. It’s the roadmap that guides the maintenance team, ensuring they understand every aspect of the project.

  2. Balance Business and Technical Aspects: The business domain is just as important as the technical details. Understanding both helps in aligning the project with overall business objectives.

  3. Timely Technical Operations and Testing: All technical procedures need to be executed efficiently and on time, with thorough testing to ensure reliability.

  4. Ensure Transparent, Two-Way Communication: Open and clear communication is essential, not just from the top down but also from the bottom up. This fosters a collaborative environment.

  5. Structured Process and Role Assignment: Properly structuring the transition process and assigning clear roles is key to a smooth handover.

With these strategies in place, managing the transition becomes more manageable, regardless of the project’s complexity.

So if you are looking for an IT partner to help you with software maintenance – then speak to us!

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