Novel software environment fosters software development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved with information and communication technology (ICT) could significantly enhance their competitive positions by employing advanced software engineering (SE) tools. Such SE methods reduce project time and costs while enhancing the likelihood of success. EU-funded scientists developed such tools with ICT SMEs in mind in the context of the project 'Facilitate IT-providing SMEs by operation-related models and methods' (FACIT-SME). Their goal was to facilitate the use of SE methods through integration with business processes along with efficient and affordable certification of these processes. The FACIT portal consists of four types of work areas. Its Open Reference Model (ORM) is the knowledge backbone containing SE methods, quality models, a reference model for IT SMEs, and additional tools and resources for SE. The Open Source Enactment System (OSES) provides IT support for a given project in a customisable way. The enterprise area enables individual SMEs to personalise and manage their own enterprise models according to the ORM tools. Individual enterprise administrators can add members to their domains and change access rights as needed. The project area allows enterprises to establish a number of projects whether based on ORMs or created independently. If successful, a project template can be created for future projects of a similar nature. Finally, scientists and engineers can execute their projects in the execution area using a workflow engine. FACIT-SME provides a link to its Virtual Learning Centre , which explains and demonstrates the functionality of the portal and supports trainers and users in exploiting it effectively. Project work has provided invaluable tools for ICT SMEs that will optimise processes based on best practices. This should reduce both project time and costs while enhancing product functionality. In addition, the open source nature of most of the deliverables will significantly impact the competitiveness of the numerous SMEs working in the European ICT sector.