Challenges and industry practices for managing software variability in small and medium sized enterprises

Tuomas Ihme, Minna Pikkarainen (Corresponding Author), Susanna Teppola, Jukka Kääriäinen, O. Biot

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Software variability is an ability to change (configure, customize, extend) software artefacts (e.g. code, product, domain requirements, models, design, documentation, test cases) for a specific context. Optimized variability management can lead a software company to 1) shorter development lead time, 2) improved customer and improved user satisfaction, 3) reduced complexity of product management (more variability, same $) and 4) reduced costs (same variability, less $). However, it is not easy for software companies, especially small and medium size of enterprises to deal with variability. In this paper we present variability challenges and used practices collected from five SMEs. Our study indicates that increased product complexity can lead growing SMEs to the time-consuming decision-making. Many of the analyzed medium size of companies also expect improved tool support to help them to boost their productivity when managing increasingly complex products and increasing amount of variants In fact, in many of the analysed SMEs, a high level of automation in design, release management and testing are or become a key factor for market success By introducing the challenges and used practices related to variability the paper deepens understanding of this highly relevant but relatively under-researched phenomenon and contributes to the literature on software product line engineering.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1144-1168
    JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • software variability challenges
    • variability practices


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