Without software, nothing works, because it’s the medium that keeps our modern world running. That also applies to Bavarian companies who, in contrast to Silicon Valley, develop and produce material goods, from automobiles and aircraft, to machine tools and tractors. Software is invisible however. And for that reason, there is often little awareness that manufacturing high-quality products depends on the quality of the software systems. The Bavarian “Center for Code Excellence” (CCE), which was opened today by fortiss, aims to change this mindset. Prof. Alexander Pretschner, Scientific Director at fortiss and Chair for Systems & Software Engineering at Technical University Munich, explains why software must be flexible, reliable and durable.
Why is code or programming quality so important?
When a company purchases machinery, management wants it to last 20, 30, 40 or 50 years. It also has to be flexible enough so that it can be adapted to the needs of the customers. The same issue applies to software systems. Users are interested in software systems that do what they are supposed to do, are reliable and continue to function when technology changes without always having to develop them from scratch again. In a nutshell, software must be functional, flexible, reliable, durable, low-maintenance and user-friendly.
What do these requirements mean for Bavarian companies in concrete terms?
Bavaria has vast numbers of mid-sized companies with roots in machine engineering. Software makes it possible to manufacture different products and systems much cheaper and with much more flexibility by using existing hardware components. That helps companies remain competitive. Configuring the hardware via software allows you to produce in larger volumes, which reduces costs. Utilizing the software as a configuration vehicle lets you achieve much greater margins.
What do you want to achieve with the new Bavarian Center for Code Excellence?
We established three goals. First, we want to raise the awareness regarding the need for software excellence among those who are responsible. We want to help them understand what software excellence is. That includes understanding which components are involved. Secondly, we want to help them identify software trends and increase their own skill sets. With that in mind, we will offer corresponding information exchange forums, workshops and training programs where company representatives and software developers can get together and discuss the issues. And we want to work industry-wide – in other words, also support companies that develop software “only” for customers or their own business processes.
We want to jointly think about various opportunities and training concepts that will help bring knowledge regarding software excellence to Bavarian companies. Many of those who are responsible for software are not trained software engineers. Although that’s not bad in and of itself, these people must nonetheless ensure that any systems developed by an engineer through a specific approach can be used by the company over the long-term and that the systems exhibit the required quality.
The companies could just consult with a large service provider instead.
As a Bavarian institute, we operate under the auspices of the Free State of Bavaria. The new Center for Code Excellence is an independent, non-profit research facility.