The Cost of Maintaining Your Rails Applications

January 3, 2017

I see two different groups of businesses out there right now with Rails applications that are in dire need of maintenance.

  1. The businesses whose life-blood is their Rails application. You have a development team working hard, adding new features, making the application scale to a growing customer base, and fixing important, customer-facing bugs. You have no time for the non-value-add of maintenance.
  2. And businesses with a bespoke Rails application, custom built to serve a need in your business. It saves you and your staff time or aggravation. Or it provides a function that helps your business make more money.

Either way, you and your business need to understand these two economic basics about your application.

Your features are your asset

Your code is your liability

Building an application yourself, or hiring someone to do it is a lot like having a home or office built. You don’t stop paying for that asset once it is built. You need to maintain a house or an office (or an application), if you want it to retain its value (at a minimum). Like a house, you will sometimes find that a light switch got placed behind a door, where no one can ever find it (UX issues). Maybe that swell deadbolt isn’t enough to keep your valuables safe, when someone can just break a window and help themselves (security vulnerabilities). Or maybe you didn’t quite plan for how successful your business would be, and that new storefront can barely hold all your new customers (capacity/performance). And then there’s just the week in, week out grind and chores to keep things looking and operating properly, like cleaning that oven or changing that burnt out light bulb (refactoring/library updates).

Typically, application maintenance runs 15%-20% per year of the original development costs (Yes, that’s an industry standard). So if you paid someone $200k-$500k to build it, you should be spending about $30-75k/yr to maintain it.

Being prepared for continued maintenance costs will prevent you from developing an app that quickly becomes obsolete, or exposes your business or your clients to security exploits - and ultimately costs you a lot of money or customers.

If you find yourself in one of these situations, don’t let your Rails application assets turn into liabilities. The WNDX Group can help. Contact us for a custom Rails Services quote for your application.