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COTS tenders and integration requirements

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Abstract

When buying COTS-based software, the customer has to choose between what is available. The supplier may add some minor parts, but rarely everything the customer wants. This means that the customer cannot write down his requirements and expect that they can all be met. A scoring system is necessary rather than traditional mandatory requirements. Requirements for integrating the new COTS system with other systems are particularly hard because suppliers may integrate in different ways and with different other systems. A related problem is that once the new COTS system is purchased, the COTS supplier may have a de facto monopoly. Only he can expand the system or integrate it with other systems. The traditional way to purchase COTS is to iteratively find the right product. However, in a tender process this is not possible, and another solution is necessary. Experience shows that customers fail to deal with these issues adequately. As an example they may believe that asking for open interfaces is sufficient to guard them against monopoly. In this paper we analyze the problems and show ways to deal with them. We illustrate the problems and solutions with real-life examples from electronic patient recording systems.

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Acknowledgements

I want to thank Jens-Peder Vium, Henrik Willumsen, David Simonsen, Niels R. Larsen and Henrik Lindholm for some of the ideas behind this paper, Andrew Gabb for assuring me that I was dealing with important problems, and Torben Elin for comparing the approach with what he, as a customer, had been trying to do.

Author information

Correspondence to Søren Lauesen.

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Lauesen, S. COTS tenders and integration requirements. Requirements Eng 11, 111–122 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00766-005-0022-5

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Keywords

  • COTS
  • Tender process
  • Integration requirements
  • Risk reduction
  • Open-target requirements
  • Supplier monopoly
  • Third-party requirements