SMEs and Cooperatives in Venezuela
Lornel Rivas, María Pérez, Luis E. Mendoza and Anna Grimán
Processes and Systems Department, Simón Bolívar University
PO Box 89000, Caracas 1080-A, Venezuela
Keywords: Software development, methodology, SME, tools, selection.
Abstract: Software engineering tools have regained interests in recent years due to different changes affecting soft-
ware developing organizations. These organizations carry out activities that might be undertaken in a plan
driven and agile manner with the support of such tools. A proper balance between both approaches and the
effective tool adoption will help organizations to meet their objectives and evolve. Small and medium en-
terprises and Cooperatives (S&C) share common characteristics throughout Latin America. Small and me-
dium enterprises (SMEs) lack of formality in their roles and relationships among interacting individuals,
whereas Cooperatives are usually small companies with weaknesses as to management techniques and tech-
nological equipment. In fact, both have difficulties when finding the right personnel and tools that best suit
their needs. Considering Venezuela as our study subject, we have herein proposed some criteria to assist
S&C in the tools selection that support their development processes while fostering the balance required be-
tween agility and discipline. Such criteria were formulated based on the characterization of five factors
aimed at determining this balance. These contributions will help subsequently identifying methodological
and technical aspects to provide guidance to S&C in the improvement of their development processes.
Small and medium enterprises and Cooperatives
(S&C) are increasingly consolidating their presence
in the countries’ economies. In Venezuela, there are
83.68% of local software developing organizations
(Rivero et al., 2007). However, S&C have character-
istics that might affect their competitiveness. Such
characteristics influence the organizations’ software
developing activities and determine their particular
needs, as to the support required from software en-
gineering tools. Boehm & Turner (2004) proposed
five factors to determine the balance between agility
and discipline for software development projects.
Our main goal is, from the analysis of such factors
(size, criticality, dynamism, personnel, and culture)
within the S&C particular context, to propose a set
of criteria for tool selection at Venezuelan S&C.
An adequate agility-discipline balance may signifi-
cantly support compliance with the objectives of a
software development organization (Boehm &
Turner, 2004). Parada et al. (2008) proposed a deci-
sion network aimed at determining the organiza-
tions’ necessity of applying either an agile or a plan-
driven methodology. If it is located in the center of
the network, an agile methodology is recommended
for the organization, but if pointing towards the
outer edge, a plan-driven methodology seems to be a
suitable decision (see Figure 1).From this network,
we infer that S&C require agility, but when they
undertake critical, complex or medium-sized pro-
jects, they might require a higher discipline level in
order to improve their probability of success. Like-
wise, if they want become more competitive, they
should apply more disciplined methodologies. The
perfect balance lies in obtaining a degree of disci-
pline that does not make them lose their essence of
S&C, with little-specialized highly-proactive re-
sources. Based on this categorization, we identified
functional and non-functional characteristics for
those software engineering tools, which focus on the
development processes undertaken at S&C to gather
a set of criteria that facilitate their selection.
Rivas L., Pérez M., E. Mendoza L. and Grimán A. (2008).
In Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - ISAS, pages 252-255
DOI: 10.5220/0001696402520255
Figure 1: Decision network of Venezuelan software developing SMEs and Cooperatives (Parada et al., 2008).
In SMEs, complete functions are concentrated on
few individuals. Flexibility in the roles performed by
the personnel is a common pattern to most SMEs.
This pattern is evidenced in the lack of formality of
relations among individuals and their roles. This is
also observed in the organizations’ flat structure as
well as in the flexible workflow driven by the needs
of a specific moment (Erard, 2005). SMEs’ main
difficulty is finding the right personnel and neces-
sary tools to perform their work.
Cooperatives show fluid communication and
work. A group of people integrate an ad-hoc team
any time a need arises. The composition of that
team will not probably be influenced by the person-
nel’s degree or work position within the organiza-
tion, but it will be driven by the current work needs
and skills of the available personnel (Molina & Gar-
cía, 2005). Cooperatives usually are small organiza-
tions. They are mostly managed by volunteers, who
have little managerial skills and remarkable techno-
logical deficiencies in their productive and service
processes (Muller, 2001).
S&C have characteristics that allow for ap-
proaching the degree of agility and discipline they
should have to succeed; all this in order to adopt or
adapt their methodologies for achieving this pur-
pose. The initial effort for implementing processes
aimed at improving product and service quality at
Latin American (LA) software systems development
(SSD) organizations is high and complex. This is
mainly due to the fact that most organizations are
small- or medium-sized, lack any monthly budget
and plans, and have no control on the productivity
and processes involved in SSD (Herrera, 2003).
Only a small fraction of LA organizations has been
awarded official CMM or ISO 9000 certifications
from international entities (Herrera, 2003).
These organizations account for a significant
percentage of SSD companies in LA. In Venezuela,
the Software National Industry (SNI) is mostly com-
prised by SMEs with less than 51 employees (ap-
proximately 83.68%), the main layer being organiza-
tions with 21 and 51 employees (42.68%) (Rivero et
al., 2007). Most companies of SNI do not use mature
models and methods for their productive processes.
Now, only a little percentage of the surveyed organi-
zations could be qualified at CMMI level 2, which is
a relevant and high-priority factor for reaching inter-
national competitiveness (Rivero et al., 2007).
For LA S&C, and particularly in Venezuela, the
question is: In accordance to the factors proposed by
Boehm, which parameters determine the level of
agility and discipline of a methodology to make
these organizations competitive in the global mar-
ket? Consequently, which implications should soft-
ware developing S&C consider when deciding on
the tools required to support their development proc-
esses? Next, we present the Boehm’s factors analy-
sis according to S&C context in Venezuela.
Size. This factor’s determines the application of
a methodology with a high agility level that allows
for distributing team’s work.
Culture. This factor determines the application
of a methodology that leads to flexibility in decision-
making processes and problem resolution within a
formal framework, so as to achieve agility without
risking team work planning.
Personnel. This factor determines the applica-
tion of an agile methodology that allows experts to
solve immediate problems with a sufficient level of
discipline aimed at work management for the rest of
the group.
Criticality. This factor determines the applica-
tion of a plan-driven methodology.
Dynamism. This factor determines the applica-
tion of a plan-driven methodology.
Although software engineering supporting tools
were developed to support the stakeholders’ tasks
and processes throughout the information system life
cycle (Lundell & Lings, 2004), they share multiple
scopes and are subjected to constant changes derived
from the advances in the software engineering
knowledge field. For S&C, the decision of acquiring
a tool may have significant implications in terms of
costs and implementation. Hence, the need for mak-
ing well-grounded decisions regarding technology-
adoption processes.
For this reason, we intend proposing a set of cri-
teria for tools selection in S&C. These criteria estab-
lish a framework for decision making processes and
serve as referential parameters for the evaluation and
selection of tools, so to offer advantages for achiev-
ing the necessary agility-discipline balance through-
out the software development processes at S&C.
Such criteria have been established based on the
S&C characteristics analyzed herein and the factors
affecting the required balance (see Figure 2).
Flexible Project Management. S&C have time,
people and financial restrictions, i.e., S&C need an
efficient management of their resources. This poses
some expectations regarding support to flexible pro-
ject management, which are related to the tool func-
tional characteristics, are: (a) Organizational man-
agement: objectives, time, tasks -per individuals and
groups- goals, events, unplanned actions, and correc-
tive actions; (b) Metrics management and generation
of reports on metrics related to the project follow-
up: percentage of completion, planned/executed
progress, percentage of participation.
Flexible Process Management. High competi-
tive environment, and productivity pressures, de-
mands to S&C to be prepared for handle changes
that arise during the project development. Then,
considerations about personnel skills and distribu-
tion of software development activities among ex-
perts and senior developers are very important. Bal-
ance of agility and discipline is required to solve
problems and manage work, respectively. Criteria
proposed include (a) methodology customization
support; key device generation in accordance with
time, objectives and available personnel; selection or
omission of activities according to the context; (b)
strengths in analysis activities; UML support, use
case-oriented analysis; iterative development sup-
port; (c) prototypes’ design; (d) role management
support: role selection, fluent communication among
Coordination, Communication, and Coopera-
tion. The process requires mechanisms to facilitate
for efficient interaction among the team members,
since development teams are usually diverse, shared
and distributed. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate
tools with features such as: (a) portability, thus fa-
cilitating users’ handling in different time-zones and
locations; (b) allow for efficient information ex-
change: notification mechanisms; support at reposi-
tories and virtual or distributed environments.
Scalable Repository Management. The tool’s
ability to facilitate coordination, communication and
cooperation, demands integrated data management
and safeguarding. It is relevant to count on tools
capable of (a) interoperations, by being compatible
with other data storage tools, protocols, standards,
shared databases; (b) providing access security and
appropriate role and team restrictions; (c) offering
accurate results by being consistent in the integrated
exchange of data recorded in the repository.
Support to the Methods and Approaches. In
order to support planning required by S&C, we ex-
pect the satisfaction of the following criteria: (a)
support to the methods, models, and notation of
analysis and designs used by the organization, (b)
adherence to standards (c) availability of documen-
tation on the methods used, (d) support to the devel-
opment approach used by S&C.
Quality Assurance. Normally S&C accept chal-
lenges of increasingly critical projects; therefore, we
have conceived this criterion as support to activities
mainly related to software internal features, such as
availability of resources for (a) Audit and inspection
checklists; (b) Code standard analyzability; (c) Test-
ability: black-and- white box tests, (d) model verifi-
cation (logic checks, error messages, ease of debug-
ging, trace files step, dynamic display of elements
and display of the workflow path).
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Figure 2: Proposed criteria for tool selection in S&C.
User-friendly and Self-learnable. S&C have
difficulties for acquiring specialized people. People
are few. Then, S&C could need tools that provide
ease of learning, so that people can getting benefits
in short time. Hence, the relevance of considering
criteria related to tool usability: (a) user-friendly
management of appealing interfaces, reducing
change resistance; (b) model representativity and
functionality; (c) tutorials and on-line documentation
to encourage effectiveness and efficiency of the
learning process (d) availability of libraries support-
ing modeling efficiency.
In this work, we have established a set of criteria for
the selection of software engineering tools that best
suit S&C’ reality. Criteria pursuing
a higher level of
agility are essential for proper management of soft-
ware development activities within time, resources,
and personnel restrictions, which are common to
these organizations. Criteria pursuing
a higher level
of discipline are key to ensure a higher control over
the team, tasks and objectives, thus reducing the
possibility of chaos and supporting efforts’ integra-
Next step in this research is identifying which
elements should be
included in the agile methodolo-
gies to achieve these goals, i.e. a proper disciplined
balance and refined tool selection criteria susceptible
of being evaluated and instantiated.
This research was supported by National Fund of
Science, Technology and Innovation, Venezuela,
under contract S1-2005000165.
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