Your Software Supply Chain – and How to Manage It

Your Software Supply Chain – and How to Manage It

By Peter Winston

There are many challenges when considering software development in general. Adding to that complexity is the need to have and maintain external resources. Many software development projects today are global and require teams of engineers who are versed in the latest technologies and can produce safe, reliable, high-quality products. While no software company is immune from these foundational issues, there are ways in which companies can manage its software supply chain that make good business sense.

In this blog entry, I am going to elaborate more about one of the reasons for an effective surge strategy to help manage software supply chain issues. I wrote about having an Effective Surge Strategy in a previous blog.

The Software Supply Chain issue is this: even if you have legions of in-house programmers and even if you have developed and customized your software extensively internally, you’re still dependent on external software suppliers. Your organization is not unique in this regard. We’re all in the same boat. Software has become incredibly complicated these days and software development even more so. Here are examples to think about regarding software and software development components:

  • The underlying operating system: Its provenance, its current maintainers and their vision going forward
  • The tool stack for software development: Who made it? Who deals with bugs? Who patches it and who updates it?
  • The compiler and versioning system: Who is maintaining those?
  • Firmware: What if the hardware manufacturer changes it mid-development?

Your product ultimately depends on a complicated, interdependent software stack. A critical part of designing your product is the ability to understand and choose your software supply chain. Even if you do a good job in selecting a solid software supply chain, you’re still going to need to manage it. 

So how then does one address the management of a solid software supply chain? This is where an effective surge strategy comes into play. Preparing for the inevitable hiccups that occur during a product’s lifecycle to include the development, release, deployment, updates and maintenance of a project, an effective surge strategy will allocate additional resources. These resources can include budget -- both time and money that can be set aside for the inevitable points in the product’s lifecycle where an additional push is needed.

ICS is a natural partner in helping you manage your software supply chain. By leveraging our experience with a multitude of software on numerous client projects, we have a deep well of best practices we can tap into to help at all the stages of your project. Some of our expertise lends itself to deciding on how best to deliver a positive experience to your users, choosing software that will deliver that experience, selecting the tool chain to develop with that software, even maintaining the software and providing updates once it’s released.

The software supply chain is tricky, however choosing a solid and experienced partner such as ICS can help balance any software development process. By bringing ICS in early on a project, we can familiarize ourselves with the software and software tools in your specific process and have staff ready to step in when you need to surge, giving you the best chance at bringing your product vision to life on time and under budget.

What do you think about when you consider your software supply chain?