INFORMATION SYSTEMS MAINTENANCE
Meaning and importance of information system maintenance
Systems maintenance involves cleaning, changing and enhancing the systems to make it more useful in achieving users and organizational goals. Maintenance is the process of modifying an information system to continually satisfy organizational and user requirements. There is a vast difference between hardware and software maintenance in costs as well as in objectives. This means changing the application to adapt to a new hardware or software environment. In some cases an organization will encounter major problems that will involve re designing the entire system development process.
Importance of IS maintenance
1. Detect issues early, before they become problems
Whether the computer is new or old problems can pop up at any time. By using regular IT servicing one can get the jump on problems and make arrangements so that the business isn’t impacted. Using regular IT servicing one can also help reduce IT support costs by fixing during scheduled maintenance windows where other work is scheduled.
2. Prevent against viruses and malware
Viruses and malware are a pain to any business, virus writers actively seek to disrupt the business and access files the network. When the computer is infected a number of symptoms may be felt, from annoying slowdowns to popup messages or contacts emails about strange email you apparently sent them. If your IT system is compromised the business could be used as a launching pad to infect other businesses, which can have consequences as companies start black listing your email address. If antivirus software is kept up to date then it greatly reduces the chance of a virus infection as commonly known IT loopholes are closed to hackers and virus writers.
3. Speed up the Computer
Over time, files that are stored on the computer can become disorganized and fragmented, this results in slow loading times and delayed access to programs and files. By regularly running speed checks and smart optimization, we can speed up the computers loading times and take care of those annoying pauses when one is busy and need quick and efficient access to the files and software.
4. Keep Antivirus Software Up-to-date
Antivirus software is vital and every PC should be protected but having antivirus software installed isn’t the end of your IT security – it needs to be up-to-date and working as intended .
5. Maximize Software Efficiency
Computers age and over time they start to slow down – software packages that performed quickly and efficiently to begin with, can become sluggish and have a negative impact on productivity. Because this slowdown has occurred over many years, the computer user may have grown used to the issue and may think that it is normal. It’s not normal. Regular checks should be done to ensure that the software is running to its maximum efficiency – often the answer is just a slight hardware modification or a quick clean out of programs
that are no longer needed.
Reasons for maintenance
Once a program is written its likely to require ongoing maintenance. To some extent it may require tune-ups and repairs. Some of the major reasons for program maintenance
i) Changes in business processes.
ii) New requests from stakeholders, users and managers.
iii) Bugs or errors in the program.
iv) Technical and software problems.
v) Corporate mergers and acquisitions e.g. Glaxo Smithkline, HP-Compaq.
vi) Government regulations
vii) Changes in the operating or hardware on which the applications runs.
When it comes to making necessary changes, most companies modify their existing programs instead of developing new ones. i.e. if new system needs are identified, then the old programs are repeatedly modified to meet the even changing needs.
Over a period of time these modifications tend to interfere with the system overall structure, reducing its efficiency and making it more difficult to modify future cases.
Types of maintenance
a) Adaptive maintenance refers to the changes made to a system to evolve its functionality to changing business needs or technologies.
b) Corrective maintenance refers to changes made to a system to repair flaws in its design, coding, or
c) Perfective maintenance refers to changes made to a system to add new features or to improve performance.
d) Preventive maintenance refers to changes made to a system to avoid possible future problems.
e) Predictive Maintenance: It pursues constantly know and report the status and operational capacity of the installations by knowing the values of certain variables, which represent such state and operational ability.
To apply this maintenance, it is necessary to identify physical variables (temperature, vibration, power consumption, etc.). Which variation is indicative of problems that may be appearing on the equipment. This maintenance it is the most technical, since it requires advanced technical resources, and at times of strong mathematical, physical and / or technical knowledge.
f) Zero Hours Maintenance (Overhaul): The set of tasks whose goal is to review the equipment at scheduled intervals before appearing any failure, either when the reliability of the equipment has decreased considerably so it is risky to make forecasts of production capacity . This review is based on leaving the equipment to zero hours of operation, that is, as if the equipment were new. These reviews will replace or repair all items subject to wear. The aim is to ensure, with high probability, a good working time fixed in advance.
g) Periodic maintenance (Time Based Maintenance TBM): the basic maintenance of equipment made by the users of it. It consists of a series of elementary tasks (data collections, visual inspections, cleaning, lubrication, retightening screws,…) for which no extensive training is necessary, but perhaps only a brief training. This type of maintenance is the based on TPM (Total Productive Maintenance).
Systems Maintenance Techniques
1. Emergency Maintenance:
This is due to the malfunction or “bug” in the system where maintenance is urgent and usually calls for immediate attention.
The malfunction is because it has not been tested completely, even though the system must have run perfectly for months or even years. The information system user usually identifies the malfunction. Then a team of analysts and programmers should rectify it if the malfunction is in computer program and caused by a system input.
2. Routine Maintenance:
Routine Maintenance is required to keep systems performance in order as it reflects the organization environment. The activities may be rewriting manual procedures, conducting training sessions, altering report formats and contents and forming new processing logic for computer programs.
3. Special Reporting Requests:
These are periodic requests for tactical and strategic management information, which does not come under routine production. These special requests can be satisfied directly by a user with a database management system and the analyst assists in preparing the necessary procedures for the request, e.g. A special report on selected products during a sales promotion or a special analysis of a particular vendor’s delivery performance.
Problems of Systems Maintenance:
The system always undergoes continued modification due to various reasons. The application systems need changes and sometimes it takes away half or more of an organization’s allocated resources and time. Thus, many organizations have adopted the principle of setting a budget for maintenance and perform only the highest priority maintenance work.
The personnel working in the information system do not wish to spend most of their time maintaining or trying to patch up systems designed and implemented years ago. In some organizations, the programmers are rotated once in a year. By this the programmers will have new assignments, the experience base of the personnel is broadened, better ideas are being proposed and evaluation of the personnel and the performance of two or more persons and the several project leaders can be compared. Maintenance programming causes more failure than the developing programming. If the maintenance programmer is not familiar with the program, the management should assign complex maintenance problems to the most knowledgeable people to avoid failure. If the documentation is poor and changes will result in serious failure and to overcome this, the management is responsible to ensure that all programs are properly documented.
Extra training cost will go up maintaining for older applications that use outdated programming languages that run under primitive operating systems. The situations like facing inadequate documentation, a variety of incompatible hardware/software configurations, outdated equipment and procedures will give rise to manageable conditions with severe problems of maintenance that continue indefinitely.
Several factors influence maintenance costs. Three of these are very important:
The number of latent defects refers to the number of unknown errors existing in the system after it is installed. Because corrective maintenance accounts for most maintenance activity, the number of latent defects in a system influences most of the costs associated with maintaining a system. If there are no errors in the system after it is installed, then maintenance costs will be relatively low. If there are a large number of defects in the
system when it is installed, maintenance costs will likely be high. A second factor influencing maintenance costs is the number of customers for a given system. In general, the greater the number of customers, the greater the maintenance costs.
A third major contributing factor to maintenance costs is the quality of system documentation. Without quality documentation, maintenance efforts can increase exponentially.
Techniques of maintaining an information system
Software companies and many other organizations use the following 4 categories to signify the amount of change. These would include;-
1. Slip steam maintenance
3. New release
4. A version
A Slip Stream
This is a minor upgrade – Typically a code adjustment or a minor bug fix, not worthy announcement. It usually requires recompiling of the code and in so doing it may create entire new bugs. These practice accounts for the various variations that we notice on a software that is running or similar machine. A Patch
This is a minor change to correct a problem. It’s usually an addition to an existing program i.e. the programming code representing the system enhancement fix is usually patched into or added to the existing system code e.g. Microsoft releases patches which
they call service packs to correct the bugs that were in the internet explorer and Windows 95.
In correcting the problem this opened a way for hackers and unscrupulous website operators to read the contents of the files of the users.
A New Release Is a significant program change that often requires changes in the documentation of the software?
A new version
Is a major program change that brings many new features?
THE REQUEST FOR MAINTENANCE FORM
Due to the amount of effort that can be spent for maintenance, many organizations require a request for maintenance through a form so that modifications can be authorized to the programs. The form is usually signed by a business manager who documents the business scales for the need for change and identifies the priority of these changes relative to the other work that has been requested.
The information system department that reviews the form and identifies the programs to be changed determines the programs assigned to project or systems, estimates theexpected completion dates and develops a testing procedure. A cost benefit analysis
may be required if the change requires substantial resources.
Depending on the organization policies, the people who perform system maintenance vary. In some cases the team that designs and builds the system also performs maintenance. This gives the designers and programmers incentives to build systems right from the onset. If there are problems, the designer and programmer will have to fix them. In other cases organizations have a spate maintenance team.
The team is responsible for modifying, fixing and updating existing hardware. Financial implication of maintenance
For older programs the total cost of maintenance can be up to 5 times greater than the cost of development. The average programmer can spend over 50% of the time a maintaining existing programs instead of developing new ones. Furthermore as programs get older the total maintenance expenditures in time and money increases.