Lesson 1: Maintenance
Lesson Objectives:After reading this lesson, you should be able to:
- Define the different types of maintenance activities
- Define the role of the maintenance team
Maintenance tasks can be broken down into sub-tasks. Based on Shelly, Cashman, and Rosenblatt, there are four types of maintenance sub-tasks (2008). These sub-tasks include corrective, adaptive, perfective, and preventive maintenance.
In all systems, there will be errors. These errors can be user-based, programming-based, and/or hardware-based. The corrective task is the discovery and fixing of the errors. If the organization is large or small, there needs to be a protocol in reporting errors/issues in a system. There are five steps to following when discovering an issue. The five steps are as follows:
- The helpdesk or the support area is contacted to create an issue ticket
- The development team is notified of the error and the error is fixed
- The fix for the error is tested
- The install of the fix is planned
- The fix is installed and any post-installation activities are completed
The next maintenance task is adaptive maintenance. This type of maintenance occurs when a change in the organization causes a change to be made in the system. For example, healthcare organization's information systems need to be updated when there are protocol changes by HIPAA.
Perfective maintenance tasks occur when there is an upgrade to the system to make the system run more efficiently. An example of this type of maintenance is updating the server (the hardware) of an existing system. Another example is the process of upgrading the bandwidth by replacing a T1 line network line with a T3 line if the system is an Internet-based system.
The last type of maintenance task is preventive maintenance. These type of tasks include activities to avoid errors, system outages, or slow response times. Many systems are networked in order to service multiple users. Performing tasks like benchmarking, which is a tool used to monitor a system's performance and other processes, is an example of a preventive task. In the world of automobiles, a preventive task is getting an automobile's oil changed every three thousand miles.
All of these tasks are performed by a group of people known as the maintenance team. These people perform the day-to-day maintenance of an IT system. Some duties include performing back-ups, upgrading obsolete systems (both hardware and software), among other activities.In small organizations, the maintenance team is usually only one person. In larger organizations, this team is made up of multiple people. There is a system administrator who is in charge of duties including managing user access to the system, managing the network and operating system, and other system related duties. The systems analyst investigates the system for any issues. When there are maintenance requests, the systems analyst is the person who will research the request to see if it is feasible. The systems developer is the last person who makes up the maintenance team. This person's main task is to perform any development duties (i.e., programming) for any maintenance task.
Like a system development company, this department needs to perform analysis on requests for maintenance. Basically, the department goes through their own small version of a system development life cycle. Figure 2 shows the steps of the life cycle. The steps include the following:
- A user submits a request to the system administrator
- The system administrator submits the request submits to be reviewed
- The acceptance or rejection of the request is sent to the system administrator
- The acceptance or rejection message is sent to the user
- If rejected, the user might try and resend the request with modifications that will make the maintenance more likely to be accepted
- If needed, the system administrator sends the accepted request to the developers
- The maintenance is performed
- The user is communicated the results
Figure 2: Steps of the Life Cycle