Maintenance and Software Changes

What to know

Changes made to correct errors and faults in the software are corrective maintenance. Changes made to the software to improve the performance, maintainability, or other attributes of the software system are perfective maintenance. Software changes to make the software system usable in a changed environment are adaptive maintenance. When changes are made to a software system, either during initial development or during post release maintenance, sufficient regression analysis and testing should be conducted to demonstrate that portions of the software not involved in the change were not adversely impacted. This is in addition to testing that evaluates the correctness of the implemented change(s).

The specific validation effort necessary for each software change is determined by the type of change, the development products affected, and the impact of those products on the operation of the software. Careful and complete documentation of the design structure and interrelationships of various modules, interfaces, etc., can limit the validation effort needed when a change is made. The level of effort needed to fully validate a change is also dependent upon the degree to which validation of the original software was documented and archived. For example, test documentation, test cases, and results of previous verification and validation testing need to be archived if they are to be available for performing subsequent regression testing. Failure to archive this information for later use can significantly increase the level of effort and expense of revalidating the software after a change is made.