Like many small software firms in Europe, FEGS faces the challenge of remaining competitive in a business environment where the competitors are much larger companies with far greater resources.
The FAMPIX experiment aims to offset this lack of resources by
- focusing the software development process on market requirements,
- increasing the functional content productivity of the development cycle,
- establishing customer oriented, quality procedures and project management,
- introducing improved systems for management information and dissemination,
- stimulating a more quality-conscious culture within the company.
The effectiveness of the software development process will be improved as described above by concentrating on four areas:
1. Information systems : create on-line access, with configuration management, to all required information; use FrameMaker as technical authoring tool.
2. Quality and organisation : improve QA and operational procedures used in the software development process, and derive better project management methods.
3. CASE tools : update development environment and provide a good set of tools, determine new company standards in each programming language.
4. Training and dissemination : to bring improved methods into the company and engender a cultural change.
Productivity will be increased and the new working procedures promoted by means of a training programme and a company "intranet" making information easily navigable by hypertext. This information will include the revised QA manual. The baseline project is a single development cycle for FAM, a Field Analysis Modeller which is the main product marketed by FEGS, and which is upgraded and extended each year.
The company has 21 employees of whom all are involved in some way in the baseline project and thus in the FAMPIX experiment.
EXPECTED IMPACT AND EXPERIENCE
The expected commercial impact is an increase in the competitiveness of the product and will be seen by a reduced cost for each version, more competitive function with better user access and documentation, and the availability of an up to date prototype version of the developing software.
It is also expected that the implementation of best practice, and clear working and management procedures will improve the working environment, and lead to a more motivated workforce, with greater job satisfaction and enhanced professional development.
The experiences gained from the project will be replicated in the following FAM development cycle bringing immediate benefit, and the improved methods learned can be applied to future software development projects.