Requirements for Implementing Packaged Solutions
Packaged solution (COTS) products can save time, but you might need to configure, integrate, and extend them to work in your world.
Many organizations acquire and adapt purchased packaged solutions (also called commercial off-the-shelf, or COTS, products) to meet their software needs, instead of building new systems from scratch. Software as a service (SaaS), or cloud, solutions are increasingly available to meet software needs as well.
Whether you’re using a package as part or all of the solution for a new project or implementing a solution in the cloud, you still need requirements. Requirements let you evaluate solution candidates so that you can select the most appropriate package, and then they let you adapt the package to meet your needs. This article describes several ways to approach requirements definition when you plan to acquire a commercial package to meet your needs.
Figure 1 shows that the spectrum of effort required to make a packaged solution useful ranges from using the package as is, right out of the box, to performing considerable requirements specification and software development for extensions. Table 1 describes these four types of COTS package implementations, which are not mutually exclusive. Any of these implementations might also require making infrastructure changes in the operating environment, such as upgrading operating systems or other software components that interact with the package.
Table 1. COTS package implementation approaches.
One advantage of purchasing a COTS solution is that it might provide useful capabilities that you hadn’t originally sought. You typically select the package based on what you know you need. However, during implementation, you might discover valuable features that you hadn’t even thought of. This can change the amount of work needed to install the package to exploit the additional features.