Individual Standard: Mass Customization in Software Development

Individual Standard: Mass Customization in Software Development

Industrialization vs. individualization = mass vs. individual production – an equation which has largely lost its validity today. In the industrial sector as well as in software development the future belongs to customized mass production (mass customization).

For a long time, mass production allowed an optimum utilization of operating assets and thus higher quantities, shorter delivery times and lower product prices than individual production which is rather characterized by more attractive and usable products. The example of the automotive industry shows how these contradictions have approximated: Initially cars were produced by methods of mass production. Very soon the market was no longer satisfied with identical black cars. By exchanging relatively large components (chassis, engines, wheels etc.), first individual wishes could be considered. Later, the degree of individualization increased explosively with the wide range of options. Today, the configuration tools used by the car manufacturers allow the almost arbitrary combination of many hundred individual options.

IT catches up

IT distinguishes between individual and standard software. Like a unique piece, individual software is developed only for one specific user group and is therefore precisely tailored to their requirements. In contrast, standard software considers the general requirements of the broadest possible number of users. It is developed once and used any number of times. Converted to users, the production costs are considerably lower than in the case of individual software. Thus, the idea of individualized mass production of software is obvious.

Mass Customization in practice

Similar to the vehicle configurators of the car manufacturers, individual software products can be created by the user-specific combination of fine-granular business and technical components. Specific requirements not yet covered can be realized by deriving the existing components. In doing so, a standard software gets a fully customer-specific user interface, considers his rule sets and orchestrates components according to the customer’s workflows.

PASS has realized the concept of individual mass production, for example, with the SolutionWorld Travel and the SolutionWorld Banking. This software consists of a large number of business-related and technical components which are of importance for the travel and finance industry, up to fine-granular, standardized services. A good example is the development of a customer-specific Travel Management System for the use in 14 countries. It has a functional total scope of 23,386 Data Interaction Points, with 85 percent resulting from re-used components. The productivity of the development process has been measured with 36.7 DIP/MD (Data Interaction Points per man day). Compared to a complete individual development with a productivity value of at best 8 DIP/MD, 2,286 man days were saved.

What is your experience with mass customization? I am looking forward to your feedback!

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