Has Your Product Become Too Complex For Your Customers?

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. These needs translate to new functionality not relevant in the context of an SME. The software company does not want to miss this opportunity and, rather than building a new product from scratch, decides to accommodate these additional new needs into their existing product. With the release of the new version of the product, the company’s support center starts to get a lot of questions from the SMEs, who experience difficulties in using the new version of the product. New sales to SMEs start to drop and, after a while, existing SMEs switch to competing products.

What has happened?

  • The software company addressed different types of segments with the same product.
  • By adding specific functionality to accommodate the needs of a new segment, the original SME customers experienced added complexity in using the product.
  • The original segment no longer finds that the product suits their needs and starts looking for alternative solutions.

This situation could be solved by addressing each of the two segments with different products. Of course, the question then becomes how to avoid building these products from scratch and leverage the existing code base.

Several strategic options exist to manage the complexity that comes along with this. Would you like to learn more about these strategic options? Come then to the next VariBru gathering on November 17, where you will have the opportunity to meet experts on this topic and get advise on your specific challenges. This event will also give you the opportunity to discover relevant technologies for your product and to meet Frank van der Linden, PhD, from Philips Healthcare (The Netherlands), who is an expert on software product lines and author of several books on this technique. He will give a keynote on techniques for dealing with variability in complex software product lines.

This article and the VariBru initiative are supported by Innoviris and by the Brussels region in the context of the Impulse Program for ICT.