miles. But the final mile will still be long. Even after all of the features have been coded and unit tested, and even integrated into a single deliverable, the verification begins. The problem reports follow. Then fixes. Then a realization that some fixes will require a large rework. More testing, new problems introduced. And
the cycle continues until you know that the problem level is acceptable for beta trials and eventually for delivery. But you'll never know if you don't have your data and processes in place. Yes there may be a few customers who are willing to take a chance on you, but you had better not disappoint them with poor quality. You had better be certain about your deliveries or you'll rapidly get a bad reputation that won't
allow you to grow. Instead of reference sites, you'll have horror stories.
So even as an SMB, you'll need to ensure that you're doing adequate testing. You'll need to carefully track problems and correct them. You'll need to be able to verify that your process is being followed correctly so that the expected benefits of the process are actually realized. You'll need to ask your CM/ALM tools to show you what's right, what's wrong, what's improving and what's not. And the most crucial question for a release, in the case of a small business, when do we switch from development mode to marketing and sales mode - and you may want to do that before your product is absolutely ready to ship if the sales cycle is long.
Again it comes down to having good processes and advanced tools. Like it or not, 2nd generation CM/ALM tools are not going to cut it for small businesses. You'll have to make up what's lacking somewhere else. A successful entrepeneur will have the knowledge necessary to make good decisions. It's too easy to make the wrong decision based on gut feel. And in the case of SMBs, the wrong decision
could be the last decision. So even more than for larger companies, CM/ALM is critical.
I knew a company, a spin-off smallish company, that started their development with a set of experienced team members. They resolved to do CM "the right way". So they went off and bought the most expensive, market leading CM tools. The company went bankrupt and the cost of CM was no minor factor, especially when consulting costs were added in.
Out of the ashes, sprung up a new company. They were much more discerning about their CM tools and costs. They chose a very high end solution at a very
reasonable cost from a company that did not market themselves adequately, but
that they were familiar with from previous experience. The solution worked, cut their costs dramatically, and not only did the job, but helped them to advance their
This is how a small business must address the CM market. Small businesses have high-end requirements, even higher than large businesses because they have fewer resources to spare. But there are solutions out there. How much do you want to spend on a implementing best practices using a top-of-the-line CM/ALM tool? Look around. If the solution is too complex to evaluate, don't. If it looks free but is only a small piece, beware.
Make the vendor show you that you'll save time, effort and money. Make the vendor show you that it can be adjusted to your requirements. Make the vendor do the homework you would otherwise have to do (because they've probably already done it). If the vendor is confident in their solution they will give you some