Using Software Product Line Engineering in a Small Organisation

In my last post I mentioned some case studies on success stories of software product line engineering in small businesses:

In this post I’m going to have a go through those and cherry pick some highlights from that first one.

…software product lines offer many small companies their last best hope for success. Time to market and economy of production are two of a product line’s best assets, and both are many times more critical for a small company.

Small companies for the most part have neither a global reputation nor the expectation of global-sized volume to provide a cushion. Their road to success lies through the tricky territories of turning out products that are impossibly customized, in an impossibly short time, using an impossibly small staff.

We know many small companies that have used software product lines to increase (or even establish) their viability, and in more than one case the results have spelled the difference between life and death.

…the product had to be flexible, widely tailorable, deliverable in a very short amount of time, and producible by a very small development staff. In other words, it had to be built as a software product line.

Customization of the system is (mainly) done by changing property files. These files control the system behavior in various ways while avoiding the need to change any code (as far as the adaptations have been planned and realized).

So benefits for a small business would be:

* shorter time to market
* with easier customisation
* with fewer staff

Or your money back!

Just kidding. It sounds a bit too good to be true, but anecdotally it does seem to work.

I just picked out the bits related to how it applies to a small company — there’s other interesting things in the case study, like implementation techniques.