Software Application Warranty vs. Maintenance/ Support

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warranty vs maintenance and support

What’s the Difference?

The purpose of a contract warranty is to ensure that the delivered software application conforms to the contract’s defined scope. This means, for example, that all the requested features, reports, and utilities are delivered. Maintenance/Support, however, delivers much more.

Maintenance Patches and Upgrades

Maintenance Patches – provided on an as needed basis, a patch resolves a critical application defect(s) or security flaw or browser compatibility issue which cannot wait for the next product upgrade. The vendor should install all Maintenance Releases as soon as practicable after receipt. Testing, implementation, and installation for Maintenance Patches should be included.

Upgrades – a new version of the application released by the vendor. Clients with continuous maintenance should be eligible for upgrades to new versions of applications as they are available. 

Application Security Monitoring

LBi Software, for example, makes use of an automated application vulnerability management tool, as well as a dynamic security testing tool, that test our apps against a large array of threats – including SQL injection, cross-site scripting, antiquated third party libraries, as well as other items found in the OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) top 10. These static and dynamic tests are continuously updated to account for the latest vulnerabilities that are continuously being found. The end result is software that is as secure as possible. These tools are always updated with new flaws that hackers have discovered and exploited.  Not only does your application have to be secure from Day One of use, but every day afterwards.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

SLAs are an important aspect of Application Maintenance. Beyond listing expectations for service and quality, an SLA provides solutions for times when requirements aren’t met. An SLA ensures both sides have the same understanding of requirements.

Below is a sample LBi SLA:

A.    Critical Defects*

  • Support personnel will respond within 2 business hours of a call or e-mail
  • Support personnel will provide a temporary fix or workaround within 12 business hours
  • A permanent, mutually agreeable solution shall be implemented expeditiously

B.    Non-Critical Defects

  • Support personnel will respond within 8 business hours of a call or e-mail
  • Support personnel will provide a temporary fix or workaround within 5 business days
  • A permanent, mutually agreeable solution shall be implemented expeditiously

*A critical defect is any defect that prevents a user of the Application from performing a required task and there is no viable workaround

Types of Issues that Require Maintenance and Support

Has there been a business rule or legal change that affects your software? Has there been a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with changes that affect your software?  Here are a few real-world changes where maintenance could help:

  • Software updates/upgrades
    • server operating system
    • database
    • application server
    • web server
    • firewall
    • load balancer
  • Hardware failures/changes – e.g., client’s NAS melted down
  • Single Sign-On (SSO) changes, e.g., organization changes to Okta
  • Mobile device rendering issues
  • Organization relocation
  • Organization logo changes
  • New/revised Data Interfaces
  • New data APIs

Maintenance/support differs from a warranty in that the vendor developer commits to eliminating all defects, including those caused by the client or those which go beyond the scope of the requirements. The developer is also obliged to resolve defects and problems in the shortest possible time.