Commercial Offtheshelf COTS Solutions

In broad terms, the further the solution moves from a standard package to a tailored solution, the higher the risk in terms of cost, time, and performance, as development work is involved. The project manager should consult with the client to help the client understand that a COTS solution may be the preferred option. A COTS solution can

Significantly reduce the risk of failure

Deliver benefits sooner because, being done before, it can be implemented faster

Cost far less than tailoring a system and redesigning from scratch

The project manager should assess each of these reasons individually against each potential business benefit, implementation cost, and risk factors. It is a good idea to hold a design review with the following project team members to evaluate and decide upon the appropriate IT solution:

Development manager IT architect Systems analyst

Database or systems Administrator

Operations and support staff (capacity and performance planning)

If the project manager has the option of taking the packaged, standard solution approach, he or she should be aware that there are still risks that need to be managed. These risks may include having to make a long-

term commitment to the supplier of the standard solution, which may constrain future IT purchasing strategy. The proprietary COTS package may be discontinued, or have insufficient functionality, which could leave the client with a problem. Therefore, the project manager and his or her technical team should always consider whether a COTS package implementation is the best selection.

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