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This version of SWEHB is associated with NPR 7150.2B. Click for the latest version of the SWEHB based on NPR7150.2C

Return to 7.18 - Documentation Guidance

Maint - Software Maintenance Plan

1. Minimum Recommended Content

    1. Plan information for the following activities

      (1)  Maintenance process implementation. 

      (2)  Problem and modification analysis.

      (3)  Modification implementation.

      (4)  Maintenance review/acceptance.

      (5)  Migration.

      (6)  Software Retirement.

      (7)  Software Assurance.

      (8)  Software Risk Assessment for all changes made during maintenance and operations.


       
    2. Specific standards, methods, tools, actions, procedures, and responsibilities associated with the maintenance process.  In addition, the following elements are included:

          (1)  Development and tracking of required upgrade intervals, including implementation plan.

          (2)  Approach for the scheduling, implementation, and tracking of software upgrades.

          (3)  Equipment and laboratories required for software verification and implementation.

          (4)  Updates to documentation for modified software components.

          (5)  Licensing agreements for software components.

          (6)  Plan for and tracking of operational backup software (e.g., backup flight software, backup to the primary operational software).

          (7)  Approach for the implementation of modifications to operational software (e.g., testing of software in development laboratory prior to operational use).

          (8)  Approach for software delivery process, including distribution to facilities and users of the software products and installation of the software in the target environment (including, but not limited to, spacecraft, simulators, Mission Control Center, and ground operations facilities).

          (9)    Approach for providing NASA access to the software version description data (e.g., revision number, licensing agreement).

           

2. Rationale

The Software Maintenance Plan provides insight into the method, approach, responsibility, and processes to be followed for maintenance of software and its associated documentation.  Having planned, reviewed, and approved activities for carrying out maintenance, operations, and retirement:

  • Helps ensure that the outcome of the activities will meet the expectations of the project.
  • Allows for thorough deliberation of tasks, methods, environments, and related criteria before they are implemented.
  • Allows the plans to be tailored for a specific project's needs.

3. Guidance

For the Software Maintenance Plan, provide separate volumes for each system element (e.g., ground operations, flight operations, mission operations, and spacecraft). The Software Maintenance Plan describes specific standards, methods, tools, actions, procedures, and responsibilities associated with the maintenance process.

When developing the Software Maintenance Plan, include information for carrying out the activities listed below. Where appropriate, references to documents describing existing processes, such as configuration management, may be included in the Software Maintenance Plan, but those documents and the processes they describe will need to be maintained for the life of the plan(s) that reference them.

Any operations, maintenance, and/or retirement activities that require supplier (software provider) support or action will need to be incorporated into the contract, because the contract is the binding document for contractor performance and deliverables. In these situations, maintenance planning is limited to the scope of the maintenance activities agreed to in the contract.

The content of the Software Maintenance Plan is important to consider during the earliest phases of a project when the Request for Proposals (RFPs), the Statement of Work (SOW), and the contract are being developed.

Maintenance planning can be started in these early phases and completed once the conditions for activities, such as software retirement, become known in the later phases of the project life cycle. 

Maintenance process implementation. Processes and procedures for performing software maintenance, including processing requests for new software features and requests for changes to address problems, anomalies, or documentation changes.

Problem and modification analysis. Processes and procedures for capturing, reviewing, analyzing, and identifying the causes, potential solutions, and associated impact for problems and issues found during operations and maintenance (see also SWE-080); processes and procedures for analyzing the impact of new feature/functionality requests.

Modification implementation. Processes and procedures for implementing approved updates.

Maintenance review/acceptance. Processes and procedures for review and acceptance of updates:

  • Before delivery and installation.
  • To "determine the integrity of the modified system." 224
  • To obtain approvals "for the satisfactory completion of the modification as specified in the contract." 224

Migration. Processes and procedures for moving the software to a new operational environment, including tools needed; data conversion activities, if required; support for the previous environment, user notification 209; and running parallel operations in both the old and new environments during the migration, as needed. 224

Software Retirement. Processes and procedures for retiring software ( i.e., decommissioning, disposing, withdrawal of active support 209, making non-operational) including:

  • Archival procedures.
  • Procedures for securing the retired software and documentation, capturing lessons learned and final software metrics.
  • Customer notification procedures.
  • "Responsibility for future residual support issues." 224
  • Internal documentation to formally retire the software.
  • Assessment of retirement impact on other systems and databases. 209
  • Transition to new.
  • Replacement software 209, if applicable.

Software Assurance. Processes and procedures for carrying out software assurance through the end of life for the software, including but not limited to the following tasks from NASA-STD-8739.8, Software Assurance Standard,  278  and NASA-GB-8719.13, NASA Software Safety Guidebook 276:

  • Assuring "the transfer and maintenance of any licenses, simulators, models, and test suites from the developer to NASA, or the designated maintenance contractor." 278
  • Assuring "that any metrics collected on the software, along with any trending and reliability data, are transferred to the maintenance organization and maintained." 278
  • Assuring that software engineering and management prepare, approve, and execute a Software Maintenance Plan that includes retirement activities. 278
  • Performing or assisting with impact analysis for proposed changes, including safety impact analyses and impact analysis of COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) changes. 276
  • Witnessing regression testing. 276

Software Risk Assessment for all changes made during maintenance and operations. Processes and procedures for assessing risk associated with software changes made during the operations and maintenance life-cycle phases (may be linked to or part of the "Problem and modification analysis" procedures listed above.)

NASA-GB-8719.13  276 states that: "Software upgrades, patches, and other maintenance can have unexpected and unwelcome side effects...Changes in one part of the software may impact other areas of the software system. Analysis of that impact needs to be performed prior to initiating the change. In a safety-critical system it is vital to make sure that the latest fix or upgrade does not "break" any safety-critical software component." 276

Development and tracking of required upgrade intervals, including implementation plan. Software may have planned upgrades built into the overall life cycle; the maintenance plan addresses how those upgrades will be developed, tested, tracked, delivered, and installed according to the appropriate upgrade schedule.

Approach for the scheduling, implementation, and tracking of software upgrades. Processes and procedures for capturing the history of upgrades to a software package, including:

  • Coordinating upgrades with the software user's operations schedule.
  • Tracking delivery and installation of software packages across the customer base, as appropriate, i.e., which customers have which release of the software and when those releases were delivered and installed.

Updates to documentation for modified software components. Processes and procedures to ensure that development (e.g., design documents) and user documentation (e.g., operations manuals) are updated to match changes in the software and that the updated documentation is delivered with the appropriate software update

Plan for and tracking of operational backup software, e.g., backup flight software, backup to the primary operational software. Processes and procedures for maintaining backup software (software that takes over when the primary software fails). The standards, methods, tools, actions, and procedures for maintaining the backup software may be significantly different from the maintenance procedures for the primary software.

Approach for the implementation of modifications to operational software, e.g., testing of software in development laboratory before operational use. Processes, procedures, resources, needed to develop, test (including regression testing 276, and approve changes to operational software, including appropriate data capture, e.g., test results.

Approach for software delivery process, including distribution to facilities and users of the software products and installation of the software in the target environment, including but not limited to spacecraft, simulators, Mission Control Center, and ground operations facilities. Processes and procedures for release, delivery, and installation of software updates to customers, including coordinating these activities with the customer's operations schedule (e.g., some customers may be operational 24-7 with only limited planned downtime) and supporting configuration and operational data changes, as appropriate.

Approach for providing NASA access to the software version description data, e.g., revision number, licensing agreement. Processes and procedures for NASA's access to identification, content information, licenses, etc. for software updates.

Licensing agreements for software components. References to agreements with suppliers/providers regarding updates, upgrades, patches, maintenance, etc., particularly, agreements for COTS software.

Licensing agreements typically include:

  • Provider notification methods, schedules for patches, new versions, upgrades. 276
  • Compatibility of software upgrades with previous versions. 276
  • Access to developers and other technical support. 276
  • Support for previous software versions. 276

Equipment and laboratories required for software verification and implementation. Description and identification of equipment and laboratory resources that may need to be retained from the development phases or be accessible during operations and maintenance to perform implementation and verification activities.

The project team considers the following general information for inclusion in the Software Maintenance Plan:

  • Resources required to perform activities described in the plan, e.g., personnel, equipment, documentation, data, tools, facilities.
  • Identification of maintenance organization(s), including subcontractors.
  • Schedule for maintenance, if appropriate.
  • Budget/costs, as appropriate for the plan.
  • Support procedures, such as configuration management, metrics capture, risk management (may be references to existing plans, processes, procedures that will need to be kept up to date for the life of the plan).
  • Description of maintenance records and reports to be generated.
  • Training for maintenance personnel.

Additionally, guidance related to the Software Maintenance Plan may be found in the following requirements in this Handbook:

SWE-075

Plan Operations, Maintenance, Retirement

4. Small Projects

For projects with limited staff or budgets, consider adapting a Software Maintenance Plan from a similar project, making sure to update the plan to reflect the current project's operations, maintenance, and retirement plans. The maintenance plan may also be included as part of another plan, such as the Software Management/Development Plan.

 5. Resources


5.1 Tools

Tools relative to this Topic may be found in the table below. You may wish to reference the Tools Table (click here to visit) in this handbook for an evolving list of these and other tools in use at NASA. Note that this table should not be considered all-inclusive, nor is it an endorsement of any particular tool. Check with your Center to see what tools are available to facilitate compliance with this requirement.

No tools have been currently identified for this Topic. If you wish to suggest a tool, please contact the Page Editor listed at the bottom of the page.

 6. Lessons Learned

  • Computer Hardware-Software/Software Development Tools/Maintenance. Lesson Number 1128: "NASA concurs with the finding that no program-wide plan exists addressing the maintenance of COTS software development tools. A programmatic action has been assigned to develop the usage requirements for COTS/modified off-the-shelf software including the associated development tools. These guidelines will document maintenance and selection guidelines to be used by all of the applicable program elements." 540 
  • International Space Station (ISS) Program/Computer Hardware-Software/International Partner Source Code (Maintenance Agreements.) Lesson Number 1153: The Recommendation states to "Solidify long-term source code maintenance and incident investigation agreements for all software being developed by the International Partners as quickly as possible, and develop contingency plans for all operations that cannot be adequately placed under NASA's control." 543
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