Whenever you scale up from a small project to a bigger project, there are certain software expenses that you’ll incur when maintaining your software. Everyone is so busy determining the development rates, they forget about the post-launch development costs. How much does it cost to maintain software? Here are some contributing factors that increase your software expenses after you launch.
REFACTORING COSTS TO MAINTAIN SOFTWARE
You can temporarily speed up without writing tests for new features, but this will gradually slow your progress every day until you eventually pay off the debt by writing tests.
The idea behind refactoring is that you write code that’s good enough to pass basic testing, compliance, limitations, or something else. Then you go back and clean it up at a later time.
Some of your code that was put in during development might have been “good enough” at the time.
But as you scale, code must be rewritten to manage the new traffic load as your business grows.
Clean code is easier and cheaper to maintain. One main purpose of refactoring is to fight technical debt by transforming your code.
To be honest, these are good problems to have, your daily business just doubled. But it comes with added maintenance costs that you need to plan for.
TRAINING COST TO MAINTAIN SOFTWARE
Training is a very underestimated expense in terms of software costs.
The biggest mistake that people make is assuming that their staff who is maintaining your software is going to stay with them forever.
In reality, some of your staff will make career decisions that take them in a new direction. You may be unhappy with other team members and let them go.
This is routine when running a business. There will always be turnover in personnel.
What happens when you lose someone with crucial domain knowledge? Finding a replacement will take time…
Your new hire may be a good developer or a good engineer, but that doesn’t mean that they understand your software. They are a good engineer for the software that they’ve developed—not necessarily what you’ve developed.
They will need time to understand your business model, technical depth, infrastructure, and other components of your software. Even if someone is an expert, they will not be an effective part of your team on day 1. This takes time.
In the tech industry, you can expect these costs to be high.
So how can you avoid these expensive training costs? The idea here is to avoid single points of failure with human beings.
If you have one person with so much domain knowledge—what if that person leaves abruptly? Can you and your business actually continue without them?
It is vital to cross-train your staff. Make sure that your capacity isn’t at a bare minimum.
Always have at least one spare person. Consider hiring a Fractional Architect. If you only need two people at a minimum, then you should probably hire a third person. So if one person leaves, you’ll still have enough to operate.
When that happens, you can always hire someone else as a “spare”.
So in the software development world, if the person who leaves takes all of the knowledge with them. Training a new person could be near impossible if nobody has the information to provide.
STRATEGIC COSTS TO MAINTAIN SOFTWARE
Strategic costs are incurred whenever your business sees a new market opportunity. You need to shift gears quickly to make sure that you can actually address the market need.
Strategic costs will creep up on your technology and force you to shift gears in terms of your priorities.
You might even need to hire a few extra people to make sure you hit your target on time. So the anticipation of these hidden costs is so important.
Sometimes you need to hard-code certain elements to hit that timeline. You’re essentially “hacking your way” to a solution that needs to be brought to market as soon as possible.
But after the software gets to market, you’ve incurred what we like to call “technical debt.” You need to go back and reassess the platform to make sure that it scales with the growing needs of your company. All of this falls into the category of strategic costs.
You knew going into this venture that you were essentially developing a technological house of cards to get to market. But that house of cards won’t be secure forever. It can easily collapse.
Now you need to take a step back and actually rebuild or refactor, as we mentioned earlier when discussing software maintenance costs.
The reason why strategic costs are so important to anticipate is that it gives you leverage. If you plan ahead, you can actually pounce on that opportunity as soon as it presents itself. You don’t want money to be an issue here.