Maintenance Agreement for Mobile App Development Services: How It Is Implemented in RedCat

Co-Founder

Alexandra Kazemir-Yampolska

22.11.2023

10 minutes

Getting a developed product from your dedicated software development company or team is a good solution for business. Yet, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Besides using all the merits provided in an app or software, businesses need to maintain it, upgrade or scale it up on demand. That’s what a maintenance agreement is used for today. Let’s discover in detail what this document is about, what to consider when drafting it, and which features are critically important to indicate in a maintenance contract between a developer and the product owner.

Introduction to What Is Maintenance Agreement and Why It Is a Must

When a business requires automation or hi-tech solutions, it comes to software development/app development companies or pros. It’s natural to apply for software or mobile development services to get a working tool to boost the efficiency of the company. 

Yet, getting a developed solution can not be enough. Even the most sophisticated and innovative product can work badly and require maintenance and adjustments, optionally, it may need further updating and improvements of its features and functions, etc.

How to get these additional services from a contractor? Maintenance agreement comes to the rescue! Speaking briefly, maintenance contracts are indispensable parts of a partnership between a customer (business or private person) and a product provider. It is a legal basement for all interactions about the product’s maintenance, repairs, improvements, updates, and so on. In terms of our casual routines, an example of such a contract is a warrantee we get when buying something like appliances, electronics, vehicles, or other things.

The maintenance contract or warranty provides the regulation of further relations between the manufacturer/provider and the product owner/customer. The same works in the product development niche. Yet, there are also some specific features and peculiarities when it comes to the understanding of a maintenance agreement for IT development.  

Understanding Maintenance Agreements and Their Specifics

In the IT industry, a maintenance agreement is a document signed between the software developer/provider and a customer. It refers to all kinds of software including corporate products, websites, mobile applications, SaaS products, etc. Every kind of product you receive from a vendor can be maintained.

The main specifics of a maintenance contract in the IT industry are that it is quite flexible and refers to the following features.

That’s the backbone of a casual maintenance contract in the IT industry and it varies greatly according to the specifics of the product, requirements of customers, and capabilities of the developer.  

The Main Types of Maintenance Services Offered for Developed Products

Considering the main types of services which are included in the definition of maintenance of a software product or app support, these are as follows:

  • Corrective services are what is usually understood as maintenance. These are services intended to fix bugs, mitigate errors during the operation of the product, and improve its functions right after it is released.
  • Adaptive services refer more to technologies and their fluctuations. As new types of hardware or OS appear in the market, a developer has to adapt their product to it.
  • Prevention type of maintenance is problem-mitigating in its essence. These are means and measures performed to maintain the longest trouble-free operation of the product and provide the necessary upgrades and optimizations for this.
  • Improvement or perfection maintenance services are those devoted to the most perfect match of the needs of a customer with the opportunities of the product. These are procedures for scaling up the application, adding new functions or features to it on demand, and other processes related to the expansion of the product’s capabilities.

Each maintenance agreement includes an accurate list of all 4 types of services along with additional information about who, when, how, and for which price is responsible for their performance.   

Benefits of Maintenance Agreements

Probably, being a startup owner, you are interested in general why you need to conclude a maintenance agreement and which benefits you get from it. Let’s check them out.

  1.   The first and foremost benefit is your product’s impeccable operation both as a part of the release strategy and in a long-lasting perspective.  

With the right scope of maintenance procedures listed and delegated to the provider according to the maintenance agreement, you can cover all the needs of keeping a responsible IT specialist in your staff. You get these services on an outsourcing basis and pay for them subsequently according to fixed quotes.

  1.   You get an urgent solution for most troubles or issues that happen to your product or app.
  2.   It is a document with an official status which provides a legal basis for your operation with an app and your interaction with its developer or provider. It is the background for most resolutions of disputes.

If taking the most relevant examples of the application of maintenance agreement in terms of apps or software, just consider your smartphone. When a customer decides to install a certain app, they sign the agreement (virtually by tapping on the I Agree button or something like that).

This results in the formation of rights and obligations. The customer gets the right to use the product in the way fixed in the agreement, and its provider is obliged to provide the functionality and workability of the product in terms indicated in the agreement.

The Most Sought-After Components of a Maintenance Agreement

To comprehend easier what should be in a typical maintenance agreement, let’s highlight its main parts.

  • The scope of services included in maintenance is the most important part of the contract. Here all the services with definitions and explanations should be indicated.
  • Terms and availability of the services: can a customer apply for them instantly or the support team/tools are available only during business hours?
  • Payments and fees. What is included in the warranty pack and which services are available under additional fees?
  • Timelines of warranty and support. On average, in the US, timelines for warranty are 3-6 months, but in other areas, timelines vary greatly.
  • Termination of the contract and terms for its prolongation. These are essential parts of the partnership which should also be indicated in the agreement.
  • Confidentiality terms and rules. If the product is used for specific business goals it is a must to determine confidentiality and vulnerable data protection in the agreement.
  • Terms and conditions for the implementation of third-party services or tools, making changes in the code of the applications. As usual, such introductions in the product are non-warranty issues and they are not maintained under the guarantee.   

How to Choose the Right Level of Maintenance for Your Mobile App: Considering Terms and Costs

Besides the scope of services required for maintaining a mobile application, there is a need to decide on the levels of maintenance and indicate them in the maintenance agreement.

  • L1 or the first level is the basis and today, it is mostly delegated to AI tools i.e., AI chatbots which can answer basic questions and provide informational help. FAQs and email support are also considered to be Level 1 examples.
  • L2 is the second stage to pass. When a customer cannot find the solution for the problem using L1 means, remote support consultants come into play. This level refers to the opportunity to chat with a real person who is a dedicated specialist in instant chats, messengers, or via phone to get the problem solved.
  • L3 levels are delegating tickets to the developer and getting services both remotely and in-house. This part of the work can be included in the maintenance agreement or paid separately as an additional service.

As for the choice of the support levels, it depends on lots of specific circumstances. To make a decision, you have to evaluate in advance:

  • The type of the app or product, how complex is it, how many improvements you plan to make in it, etc.
  • The level of skills in your staff. Do you have anyone who can cope with app maintenance among your team or do you need outsourcing services for that?  
  • Accessibility of all the levels in the developer or provider. For example, in RedCat, we provide L1 and L2 services in the form of AI assistants and so do lots of world-known companies like IBM).

Cost evaluation is also a part of this decision, so paying attention to it is crucial.

Cost Considerations

As for the price of maintaining an app, it depends much on the following factors:

  • The list of services provided in the maintenance agreement;
  • Analytics if it is included in the scope of services;
  • Location of the maintenance team and its qualification;
  • The number of pros who are engaged in mobile application maintenance;
  • The payment model selected for the agreement.

How to Get Maintenance Services and Save Costs: Tips by RedCat

Of course, each company is interested in getting top-level maintenance services for a reasonable price. There are some tips about how to budget expenses and reduce extra costs for maintenance.

  • Clearly indicate in the agreement all the services and materials which may be included in the warranty terms so not to pay extra for them when you need them.
  • Decide on the team to engage in maintenance. For the 1st month after the release, it is better to engage 50% of the development team to mitigate possible bugs and cope with user behavior which can be unpredictable as well as with the app’s work and success. Then you can reduce the team for support services to 30% of the team.
  • When the app works tip-top until you are going to implement its updates with new functions and features, it is recommended to use as many automated L1 and L2 options as possible. This positively impacts the estimated cost of the app’s maintenance.

Key Considerations for Startups: Things to Know in Advance

Startups require precise maintenance of their products so as not to bum. Thus, lots of concerns are surrounding startupers at the stage of consideration about a maintenance agreement. What can be done to reduce these concerns?

  • Better decide on engaging the team which developed your product instead of looking for a third-party maintenance service.
  • Agree on the early stages about the essence of the product. I.e., do you need an MVP or you are going to develop a full-fledged application with complex functionality and focus placed on UI/U?
  • Make the right decision on the model of MA. For example, in RedCat, we offer startuppers to apply one of three models:

1) Fixed upon request (Time&Materials +Warranthy based)

2) Fixed quote of money-hours per month

3) Hybrid of previous ones with time which was not used for fixes to be reinvested into new features, improvements or product polishing.

Drafting Agreements: How to Develop a Mutually Beneficial Document

So, the use and benefits of maintenance agreements are quite understandable. What else should be taken into account to complete the task?

 

The first and foremost idea to use is to engage the lawyers in the process of development of the MA draft. This may reduce the risks of getting unclear or vague wording.

Besides, it is crucial to indicate in detail all the services and their definitions, warranty and non-warranty issues, urgent maintenance terms, etc. Everything which can happen accidentally or urgently should be indicated transparently.

As the common pitfalls to avoid when drafting a maintenance agreement are related to the issues we mentioned in a previous paragraph, pay great attention to them.

Selecting a Maintenance Partner: What to Consider

When it comes to the selection of the potential maintenance team, we have a couple of recommendations to follow:

  • Select the team which has skills in the maintenance of the product of your kind. The win-win idea is to sign MA with the development team which worked on the product.
  • Make the process of maintenance streamlined. For this, select the team which provides not only L1 maintenance but also two-shifted L2 maintenance to cover all possible time zones and L3 options when needed.
  • Compare prices and reviews. Often even celebs in app development badly cope with further maintenance while some teams offer seamless MA terms and conditions.

In any case, RedCat is there to help you get in touch with the best app maintenance providers around the world.  Besides, we create documentation for a project and list the devices for quality assurance tests to be used, versions of OS, etc. in our SRS, test plan, and quality attribute document. So, you are welcome to apply for our expertise and get the best results.

Conclusion

The maintenance agreement is not a way to squeeze the money from startups for additional services. It is your protection from urgent breakdowns and bugs which can happen in the app. The most crucial time for app development and maintenance is the 1st month of launching in the market. Yet even years after, a maintenance agreement may help you stay afloat and prolong your app’s life span considerably. This agreement is your magic key to keeping the application working tip-top and adjusting it to new technologies, ideas, and customer needs.

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