Names are important. As Harry Pierson pointed out in his p&p Summit talk this isn’t the industrial age any more. Factories have had their day, we certainly don’ create software the same way people build cars, if we ever did. The “factory” name doesn’t really do the idea justice. I prefer something like “Software Powertools”, here’s why.
Powertools, software or otherwise, enable the following:
Increase productivity – Powertools enable craftsmen (or women) to be more productive, to build things faster and more consistently.
Enhance skills – In some cases they also allow less skilled people to produce the same result as a more skilled individual could acheive with more primative tools. For I can make straight cuts with a circular saw whereas a craftsman might get the same result with a handsaw if they needed to. Software Powertools should do the same thing. They should embody the knowledge of your senior peopl and allow less experienced people to acheive similar results.
One tool for each job – Each tool does one job really well. Dewalt doesn’t ship a drill/saw combo tool and with good reason. It becomes very hard to produce a reusable tool as you add features to it. As you add more functionality the tool becomes more specialized and less reusable by the community at large.
Work together – A good powertool kit will work together to provide complete set of tools, each with its own role, which combined can be used together to build something larger – a deck for example. The kit above uses the same batteries for all tools and of course they’re the same color. Similarly the Service Factory to some extent integrates with other p&p offerings.
Which is why I tend to think of “Powertools” not “Factories”.
Note: This is most definitely my personal opinion, not Microsoft’s and not p&p’s.