Publisher / Integrator, what difference ?

What is the difference between a software developer working in an R&D team at a publisher and another employee by an integrator (or IT services company or ESN)? They have undergone the same training, they use the same technologies, they may work for the same clients. They certainly have different careers, but what differentiates them most is the way they work and even the purpose of their work. To understand it, let's discover the triangle of project constraints.

The triangle of project constraints

triangle projet - blog

This triangle links 3 parameters:    

  • Quality: it quantifies reliability, maintainability, ability to evolve
  • Time: these are the resources allocated to developments (man x days)
  • Scope: it is the sum of the functionalities developed


The assumption is that you can only choose 2 parameters, the constraints then impose the 3rd:

  • If you impose a Perimeter and a Time, you will no longer be able to play on Quality: if the Time is too short for the imposed Perimeter, the developers will have to sacrifice Quality.
  • If you impose Time and Quality, it will induce the Perimeter that the developers will be able to cover.
  • Finally, if you impose the Perimeter and Quality, it will mean the time that developers will need.

Another way to express this is to state a project equation of the form: 

Time = k * Scope * Quality

The k factor depends mainly on the level of the developers, the tools at their disposal, their involvement and their effectiveness in working together. Obviously, this is a simplifying vision because neither scope nor quality can be measured simply.


Editors / Integrator: two diametrically opposed approaches

For an integrator, the parameter that will always be imposed or at least closely monitored is Time. In a fixed-price project, 

developpeur mirroir2 - blog

it's time which determines profitability. The Perimeter is generally the subject of tough negotiations with the customer: the specifications may be subject to interpretation, the customer may waive some functionalities in order to obtain others. In this context, it is quality that will be what it will be, generally the strict minimum to pass the acceptance tests.

On the other hand, in a publisher's case, the parameter that will normally be imposed is Quality. Indeed, poor quality is very expensive when corrections have to be applied to many customers. It is also very expensive in terms of maintainability when it is necessary to rewrite entire sections to allow for evolution. Then, depending on its strategy, the publisher can either impose Time to respect a rhythm or a calendar. But it can also be organized around the Perimeter to deliver components as they become available.

These two approaches lead to working in different ways: the developer at an integrator will be required to strictly monitor his Time to respect a Perimeter defined in a specification. In a publisher, even the specifications will be less strict: if it is discovered that what was planned is not satisfactory in use, it will generally be decided to modify this before the final release of the software or component. This is what justifies the use of beta versions.

Very naturally, career developments are also different. At an integrator, the developer will evolve towards a project manager capable of fully understanding the scope of a specification and then towards a manager capable of controlling the time of his teams. On the other hand, at a publisher there are careers of excellence for those who know how to master the different aspects of Quality: reliability, performance, ergonomics, maintainability, genericity, modularity, scalability...

And what career would you choose? Will you put quality first? If so, do not hesitate to consult our job offers and consider joining a publisher: even if the majority of job offers concern integrators / IT services / NSEs, there are great opportunities for publishers.

Jalios recruits many profiles: R&D engineers, consultants, IT technicians, sales representatives...

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