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In today's world there is very unusual to have a program developed that will not have further development after release. The requirements of the time that we live are very dynamic and there is a need for constant adaptation. A basic requirement for any new software product is to be adaptable, easy to maintain and modify. Time factor and cost factor are ruling in the agitated competition and only those who are well organized and prepared are able to survive. The question for software maintenance and change control is taking key position in both perspectives: the perspective of the manufacturer of the software, and the perspective of the consumer. In the negotiation and management of these two major players is the complexity of the software maintenance and change control. In this paper we will focus on some important specifics of these processes.
Thomas Pigoski in his "template for a software maintenance plan" defines software maintenance in the following way: "Software maintenance is the totality of activities required to provide cost-effective support to a software system. Activities are performed during the pre-delivery stage as well as the post-delivery stage. Pre-delivery activities include planning for post-delivery operations, supportability, and logistics determination. Post-delivery activities include software modification, training, and operating a help desk." Later on in the same material he describes some organizational requirements in the same context: "Maintenance is performed by the developer, a separate maintainer, or by a third-party organization. It is important that the organization responsible for maintenance be identified in writing with full responsibilities. The Maintenance Plan accomplishes this.
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In other words, we have demonstrated that software maintenance has very important role for the cost effectiveness of the working system, and involve the use of organizational resources. In this direction, another report by Robert Vienneau, published on the DACS web site entitled "The present value of software maintenance" look at the software maintenance as investment. "A variety of tools and techniques have been introduced over the last two decades for improving software development and maintenance. Examples include Structured Analysis, Structured Programming, Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE), Object Oriented design, formal methods, structured inspections, and new testing methods. This paper provides managers of software organizations with techniques for choosing among these possibilities. It also provides an outline of valid arguments to sell upper management on the cost-effectiveness of investing in process improvement. The analysis techniques recommended here result in findings in a language understood by upper management.
Software projects require expenditures and generate revenues over a lengthy span of time. A software project can be considered the result of an investment decision in which expenses are dispersed in the belief that greater benefits will be obtained in the future. Similarly, the choice of the specific techniques employed on a software project are the results of investment decisions that should reflect an attempt to optimize certain financial criteria. Finally, attempts to improve the process of a software organization should likewise be considered investment decisions in which the payoff is likely to be obtained across several projects." Then the report continues in an empirical investigation and calculations of the value of the maintenance in time. Unfortunately the experiment demonstrate that there are not enough parameters to accomplish precise results, but the conclusion is that: "Researchers presenting experimental results on the costs and benefits of specific techniques should indicate how changes in the time distribution of costs can affect the magnitude of (undiscounted) benefits. The present values of cost and benefits will depend on specific details of individual projects. Nevertheless, the simple analyses presented above suggest the reluctance of management to address maintenance problems and adopt new technology may be more rational than is commonly thought. Financial analysis in an uncertain environment cannot provide the final word on technology, but it is time that software measurement and software development reflect an awareness of the needs, methods, and language of high-level management."
An important portion of this paper is the change control. Change control can be very stressful and many organizations will develop conservative attitude due to the difficulties of the process. However changes are normal process of the development and those who refuse it risk staying in history. If well planned
and organized, changes can bring new forces in the system. Many tools have been developed to help the change process. Entire software packages are available today for managing the process. Following is a document for Change Control management that was retrieved from the US Department of Energy CIO's web site.
Software Change Control Log
Page #: _____ Log Date: ____/____/____
SCC Log V1.0 (8/8/99)
* E = Emergency, U = Urgent, R = Routine (as defined by the SCR form).
See Reverse for Instructions
INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING THE SOFTWARE CHANGE CONTROL LOG
This change control log form is included as a suggested format for recording and maintaining software change request data, including changes to documentation. A Detailed Status Information form is available to record supplementary details. The log and software change requests should be maintained in the Systems Project Notebook.
Page #: Enter the appropriate page number of the log sheet.
Log Date: Enter the date control log was started.
System Name: Enter the name and acronym of the system to be managed.
SCR #: Enter the unique sequential number assigned to each request on the SCR form.
Reqmnt #: Enter the number of the requirement to be changed (if known) on the SCR form.
Date Submitted: Enter the date the SCR was submitted to DOE or Contractor.
Priority: Enter the priority from the SCR form using the first character of the priority; e.g.,
E = Emergency, U = Urgent, and R = Routine.
Approval: This area is for recording SCR approval information obtained from the SCR form.
Change Approved: Enter the date the SCR was approved.
Change Not Approved: Enter the date the SCR was disapproved.
Hold (Future Enhancement): Enter the date the SCR was placed on "Hold."
Status: This area is for recording basic information about the status of a SCR.
Technical Evaluation Phase: Enter the date the technical evaluation of the SCR commenced.
Change In-Progress: Enter the date work began on the SCR. Usually, the areas "Technical Evaluation Phase" (if applicable) and "Change Approved" should be entered prior to posting the "Change In-Progress" date. Work on most SCRs should not be initiated without a technical evaluation and formal approval in the SCR.
Canceled: Enter the date the SCR was canceled.
Target Date: Enter the estimated date that the SCR will be completed and ready for release/implementation.
Date Complete: Enter the actual date the SCR was implemented.
Software Change Control Log - Detail Status Information
Page #: _____ Log Date: ____/____/____
SCC-DS Log V1.0 (8/8/99)
Note: Use this form in conjunction with the SCR Log form to record supplementary details about a given software change request. Include the appropriate Page # and SCR # from the SCR Log form to maintain a cross-reference between logs. Keep all logs with the SCR in the System Project Notebook.
Another manual entitled "Software Change Management EP 6.0 SP2" dedicated to an enterprise portal system gives various reasons for change like:
Content has to be kept up-to-date
New features have been developed or become available
Security and stability updates
Migration of applications into the system
Changes in connected systems require adaptations
and then concludes: "Change Management assures availability and smooth operation in a constantly changing productive system."
The last point of this paper will dedicate more attention to the context of the education course that it is written unto, and more specifically to the languages of programming. There are many choices when it comes to programming languages with which help to develop specific software. Fact is today that many organizations use software that is practically impossible to support due to the platforms and languages that they were developed with. An important point of consideration is the choice of language, based on its power to accomplish the task, the cost of its support and the perspective of its survival in the battle of technologies. There is not need to say that the language should be Object Oriented to assure better maintenance and integration.
We will conclude this expose with a citation from the publication of Tomas Pigoski and SEPT (Software Engineering Process Technology): "The hype surrounding the Year 2000 (Y2K) software crisis identified the need for solid software maintenance policies and practices. Many organizations were forced to deal with significant changes to their software inventory and expended considerable funds accomplishing the needed tasks. Software systems are developed and evolve; they are not static. The last phase of the software engineering lifecycle, operation and maintenance, often takes the majority of life cycle funds. It is therefore prudent to possess software maintenance plans and procedures to contain life cycle costs, and to operate an efficient organization."
Pigoski, T. (2001). Sample pages of the TEMPLATE FOR A SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE PLAN. Software Engineering Process Technology.
Vienneau, R. (1995). The Present Value of Software Maintenance. Retrieved December 13, 2004 from http://www.dacs.dtic.mil/techs/value/intro.shtml
US Department of Energy. (2004). Software Change Control Log. Retrieved December 13, 2004 from http://cio.doe.gov/ITReform/sqse/download/scr-log.doc
SAP Developer Network. (1995). Software Change Management EP6.0 SP2. Retrieved December 13, 2004 from http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/servlet/prt/portal/prtroot/com.sap.km.cm.docs/documents/a1-8-4/Software%20Change%20Management%20EP6.0%20SP2.pdf