The goal of the EXTRA project was to produce and share a set of best practices in software development for SMEs on the basis of:
- Theoretical research in the area of knowledge management
- Feedback from participating SMEs on their current experience in transfer and knowledge management.
Target group of the project was the large number of European SMEs that are:
- Developing and delivering software products
- Operating internationally, or having intentions to expand at the international level in the future.
More than 90% of the European SMEs are very small enterprises (VSEs) with less than 10 employees. A peculiarity of these companies is that they often use agile, lightweight or home made development processes and methods. Therefore existing standards and approaches to knowledge management are not suitable and applicable for VSEs as they generally require larger investment in terms of time, resources and money.
Results of the project
The project elaborated a set of knowledge management techniques and tools especially targeted to SME. To this end, a SME User Committee was established in each of the participating countries of the EXTRA project, in order to ensure that the project remains focused on practical and relevant knowledge management topics. The SME User Committee was composed of:
- Belgium: BSB, E-Connector, NSI IT Software and Services, OCE Software Laboratories
- Cyprus: InfoScreen, Logicom Business Solutions, Powersoft, Supernova Consulting, Theova UHS
- Norway: Akvagroup Maritech, Data Design System, Lydia, Vianova Systems, Visma Unique
Two major outcomes of the project are: an assessment tool and a handbook.
Assessment tool "Self-assess your knowledge Management practices"
- to help SMEs assess their current knowledge management practices;
- to help SMEs identify the most suitable techniques (described in the handbook) for their needs.
Handbook "Practical knowledge management: Techniques for small and medium sized software companies".
- to introduce knowledge management in SMEs;
- to describe 9 techniques for improving knowledge management in small organisations
Appreciation of the project for the companies
Researchers have visited individual SMEs to have meetings and group work seminars. In addition to getting feedback from the SMEs as part of the validation activities of the project, selected EXTRA techniques where actually applied to real cases during these visits. Some companies have also started applying techniques to their own afterwards.
Experience transfer by performing a systematic retrospective analysis has shown to be particularly interesting.