The Significance of Post-Development Support
By Tom Baker
Software development is often imagined as a process that culminates in a finished product—once the code is written and deployed, the job is done. But deployment is merely one phase of a software’s life. The journey that begins post-deployment, encompassing maintenance, support, and enhancement, is just as crucial.
The Importance of Post-Deployment Support
Once software is live, its true test begins. The software’s stability and reliability are scrutinized by its users as they adapt to the tool. The brand’s image hangs in the balance, dictated by the software’s performance. As the user base forms its lasting impressions of the software, it’s crucial to have an effective post-deployment support plan in place to promptly address questions, issues, and use cases that were not identified or fully tackled during pre-deployment development and testing.
Key Components of Post-Deployment Support
- Bug Fixes and Patches: Even with rigorous testing, no software is entirely free of bugs. As users start interacting with a new or changed application, they might stumble upon unforeseen issues or errors. Addressing these promptly not only prevents potential disasters but also shows the user base that the developers are committed to a seamless experience.
- Updates and Upgrades: The tech world is continually evolving. For software to remain relevant, it must adapt—be it integrating with the latest technologies or incorporating new features inspired by user feedback.
- Performance Monitoring and Optimization: Continuous monitoring ensures the software runs smoothly. Performance monitoring tools can provide insights into any lag, crash, or resource drain, helping teams to optimize accordingly.
- Backup and Disaster Recovery: Unexpected events—server crashes, data breaches, natural calamities—underscore the need for robust backup and disaster recovery plans. They safeguard data integrity and ensure continuity of service.
- User Training and Documentation: Not all users will find navigation intuitive. Training materials, tutorials, and well-documented manuals can drastically reduce the learning curve and enhance user satisfaction.
- Customer Support and Help Desk: Even with training resources, users will have questions and issues. A responsive customer support team can make the difference between a satisfied user and a frustrated one.
Benefits of Offering Comprehensive Post-Deployment Support
Offering a holistic post-deployment support fosters trust and builds long-lasting relationships with users, which in turn can translate to repeat business and referrals for external-facing applications. Strong post-deployment promotes user satisfaction and can give a competitive edge in the market, as users often weigh the quality of support when choosing software. For software used by a business’ internal team to handle tasks and operational workflows, post-deployment support helps maximize capital investment and can identify areas in which software can be further improved, driving even greater efficiency gains. Strong post-deployment support also serves to reduce risk associated with any application, preempting major issues with the potential to increase user frustration, decrease their satisfaction, and impact overall adoption of an application that has cost valuable dollars to create and deploy.
Challenges in Delivering Post-Deployment Support
However, while vital, providing support for newly deployed software presents several challenges. Limited resources can strain the quality of support. The breakneck speed of technological change can make it hard to keep the software updated. And as a user base either grows or becomes more diverse, ensuring quality support can become a Herculean task.
Best Practices for Effective Post-Deployment Support
To navigate these challenges, organizations should look to create a dedicated support team, if possible, and ensure that communication channels with users – feedback forms, forums, or surveys – are wide open. Creating regular feedback loops can help ensure continuous improvement. Finally, investing in support tools, such as ticketing systems or AI chatbots, can be a big help in streamlining the overall support process.
Case Study: Successful Post-Deployment Support in Action
We recently worked with a client who had a significant backlog of support work that needed to be addressed to scale and maximize efficiency. Our team was able to assist by first completing a short transition phase designed to gain familiarity with the application code needed to be able to provide comprehensive support.
With that transition phase completed, we spent nearly a year in an as-needed support role. Working in this close and dedicated capacity has paid dividends for the customer, greatly improving their operational efficiency by taking a key business process that previously required multiple days to complete down to less than 30 minutes. While this dramatic type of result isn’t necessarily typical, it speaks to the value that post-deployment support can bring – even in software that has already been deployed for an extended period.
Maximizing Software Value and User Loyalty
The role of support after a software development project is complete cannot be overstated. It’s the bridge that transforms a good software product into a great software experience. As the tech landscape continues to evolve, businesses that prioritize effective post-deployment support will undoubtedly stand out and perform better, scale better, and attract more user loyalty, capitalizing on the value of their software investments.
Tom BakerDirector of Delivery
Tom Baker serves as the Director of Delivery at SOLTECH, with nearly two decades of diverse experience in project management and service delivery spanning industries such as telecommunications, insurance, business process automation, hardware manufacturing, and IT. Throughout his tenure, he has collaborated with various team sizes and specialties, consistently emphasizing customer service and ongoing improvement.
In 2018, Tom came on board with SOLTECH, starting as an on-site team lead for a client. By 2020, he had progressed to oversee the entire team, managing delivery for a range of SOLTECH’s software solutions clients.
Tom maintains that while every business and software project is unique, the universal application of continuous improvement and dedication to customer service can consistently yield excellent outcomes, even in an ever-evolving tech landscape. Drawing from his vast experience, Tom writes about the nuances of project management across different industries and the importance of adaptable strategies in a dynamic tech world.