This post is about project-based software companies. They deliver tailor-made software solutions to their clients on a project basis. There are a lot of them in Belgium… and when I say a lot, I really mean a lot!

Jari Partanen, Head of Quality and Environment at Elektrobit Wireless Business Segment (Finland), will be in Brussels on April 24 in order to give a keynote about how Elektrobit is dealing with variability at the product and process levels: Combining an Organization-Wide Lean Way of Working with Product Variability: Thoughts from Elektrobit Cockpit

On November 17 Sirris organized a third industrial gathering in the context of the VariBru project. This biannual gathering brought together 13 Belgian companies to discuss about challenges related to building and dealing with a software product that needs to fulfill the very specific, and often conflicting, needs coming from its broad and diverse range of customers.

A delegation from the Sirris Software and ICT group attended the 23rd Benelux Conference on Artificial Intelligence (BNAIC 2011), organized by CODeS in Gent on November 2–3, 2011. The conference featured a broad range of both pure and applied research contributions covering topics like machine learning, intelligent agents, operations research, semantic web and data mining.

Does this company’s challenge sound familiar? An SME successfully develops and implements production management systems on the local market. Gradually, it integrates more and more features and specific possibilities for various client sectors. By doing so, the software product can be implemented for more and more segments after a limited customization. This product strategy works well until the tension rises significantly between the commercial team and the development team.

While advising companies, that build software products, we have seen the following situation pop up several times. A small software company has built a product for a specific domain, targeting the segment of SMEs in the plastics industry. The product has successfully been launched and has quite a number of happy customers. Suddenly, a new opportunity arises and a large multinational company in the sector, has also become interested in the product. However, before being willing to commit to buy, this large company needs some changes so that the product fits their needs.