Software factory innovation came into existence to resolve several issues that software projects commonly face. Since software development is an intricate and time consuming endeavor, certain problems are endemic; such as not meeting the deadline, cost overruns, delivering customer specifications and other issues. In fact, these problems can become so severe that the project may end up failing.
Why the Software Factory Matters
A number of weaknesses in software development processes give rise to these problems. Development often happens to be a one-off task. Most systems are invariably created from the very start. Reinventing the wheel gives rise to waste and inefficiency. Reuse is far less common than it should be. Even when there is reuse, it is not done systematically.
The low degree of abstraction also creates issues. Software system size and complexity has increased exponentially, but productivity has not increased at the same rate with the shift from low level to high level languages. That is, software development tools will need to evolve at a faster rate to meet the fast-rising demand for software.
Software factory innovation is a means of addressing these concerns. As the name suggests, software factories work much in the same way as industrialization and mass production. But instead of churning out goods at a fast rate, software factories will expedite the development of software by taking advantage of economies of scope that arise when software systems of closely matching scopes are developed. This can be achieved through the use of standardized development tools also through code reuse.
Companies that implement the software factory concept benefit from faster development times, lower cost and less waste.
The key feature through which software factories increase productivity and reduce waste is the code reuse concept. While certain elements of similar software systems have scope for reuse, there are other parts that require customized development. Software factories cater to both.
Software factories leverage code reuse for the development of basic functions in related software systems. But this does not mean that the waterfall approach is necessary. Code reuse is possible if you develop similar systems and then review functions and features that are common to all of them. Besides identifying those features that are common, you should also note down those functions and features that require a more customized approach since much your software development work will not be centered around these. Besides reusing lines of code, you can also extend the concept to reusing documentation, testing code, scripts, configurations, architecture and requirements.
The Software Factory Approach
To make such an approach possible and successful it is necessary to pay meticulous attention to the software scope. For reusing code efficiently, it is always better to start off with a very basic and limited scope. As you reuse code, you can gradually widen the scope to include more functions and elements that will require original development. It is possible to widen the scope slowly by planning software releases where incremental increases are made to the scope. When software development is done in this way, the final release will eventually include all requirements, although you started off with a very simple and basic scope.
When implementing the software factory, the goal is to carry out development in easily workable iterations so that you can allow for agile methods and save on investment.
Refining the Process
A key benefit of the software factory innovation is that you can also develop certain best practices to improve the software quality and speed up the development process. Since the concept of the software factory revolves around developing similar software systems, you will get an in-depth idea of what is common between them and how they are different. You can thus formulate a methodology for faster development by identifying elements that could benefit through code reuse. You may also devise a strategy for the developing one-off elements more efficiently. It may be possible to automate software development to some extent. Such methods will be of great help to new software developers in particular since they will empower new coders to reduce errors and shorten the learning curve.
As you may have noticed, the software factory has much room for the implementation of agile methodology. One of the key benefits of the agile methodology is that it is known to boost output and productivity. Hence, the software factory can help your team to boost productivity and complete the project within the given deadline. This will greatly improve client satisfaction, prevent budget overflow and enhance product quality.
You may use agile methods like scrum. You can divide the project into cycles where there is a high level of interaction between client and developers. A major benefit of this approach is that the client remains updated on the rate of software development and can also provide feedback on each iteration and new release. Getting feedback from the client will help developers to know whether or not they are moving in the right direction and how well the new software is fulfilling the client needs. If the feedback is positive, the team can move with full speed ahead. If the feedback is not so encouraging, the development team can request suggestions from the client and work out a strategy for addressing client concerns so that the final product matches with the expectations of the client.
Better Client Collaboration
Getting detailed feedback at each milestone of software development is intrinsically more time saving than getting feedback towards the end of the project. Regular feedback provides an early warning of anything amiss that the developers may not have noticed. Remediating such problems early on will save more time and energy than resolving the same issues when the product is complete.
Final Thoughts about Software Factory Innovation
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