You may have heard the phrase “software is never done.” This means you should think of your software as an asset, something you must maintain year over year. Budgeting for maintenance (security, library, and codebase updates) is a necessity. A proactive approach wards off software rot, a costly result of software abandonment.
Software is Never Done: The Optimist’s Perspective
But, what of the optimist view of “software is never done”? Your team has real innovative, value-added work to do after the launch when users are successfully using your software.
We can imagine how we get here, right? Teams do their best to manage scope to hit deadlines. They also work to deliver a solid experience with valuable features that people want. Not all the great ideas make the cut. But, whether small or big, these ideas would enhance the product experience and boost engagement. Even more, teams get energized by doing innovative work.
Budgeting for Improvements Over Time
How often and how much you should budget for enhancements depends on your product. How feature-complete is the software today? Are we adding rooms to the house (to use a house building metaphor) or making cosmetic updates? For complex applications, it is reasonable to budget 5 to 10% of the initial investment for improvements.
When it is time to make improvements, pull from prior ideas. Reference feedback and reviews from those using the app. Ask questions of your team and your customers, such as:
- Auditing the new software against the old process, is it performing as you hoped?
- What large or small feature would enhance the experience or create value for your customers?
- Could data insights inform business decisions? Are you getting valuable data today?
- Could new workflows or simplified ways of performing tasks make users’ jobs easier or faster?
- Are there new opportunities (customer engagement, brand awareness, revenue models)?
- Does the business have new software systems that this product must integrate with?
‘Software is Never Done’ as an Opportunity
What comes after a product launch is as important as what comes before. Now, you have a product that provides value to people and keeps your business running. If you nurture your newly-minted custom software by budgeting for maintenance and improvements, you can use the opportunity to take your product from good to great.