Having drawn up a list of requirements, we now need to draw up a plan of how the proposals that are submitted are to be evaluated. The situation will be slightly different if the contract is for a system that is to be specially written as opposed to an off-the-shelf application. In the latter case, it is the system itself that is being evaluated while in the former situation it is a proposal for a system.
First, a means of checking that all the mandatory requirements have been met needs to be identified. The next consideration is of how the desirable requirements can be evaluated. The problem here is weighing the value of one quality against another. The ISO 9126 standard, which is discussed in the chapter on software quality, can be used to decide that one system has more 'quality' than another, but if there is a difference in price between the two, we need to be able to estimate if the increase in quality is worth the additional price. Hence 'value for money* is often the key criterion, l or example, we mentioned above an instance where the existence of an accounting link file was identified as a desirable requirement in the case of the Brightmouth College payroll acquisition project. Could a financial value be placed on this? If we were to cost clcrical effort at £20 an hour and we knew that four hours of clerical effort a month went into entering staffing costs into the accounting computer system, then we could conclude that over a four year period (£20 an hour x 4 hours a month x 48 months), or £3840. would be saved. If system A has this feature and costs £1000 more than system B. which does not. then this would seem to give system A an advantage. If. however, system A cost £5000 more than B then the picture would be different.
It needs to be stressed that the costs to be taken into account are those for the whole of the lifetime of the proposed system, not just the costs of acquiring the system. Also, where the relationship with the supplier is likely to be ongoing, the supplier organization needs to be assessed as well as its products.
Exercise 10.5 One desirable feature sought in the Brightmouth College payroll is the ability to raise staff to the next point in their salary scale automatically at the beginning of each payroll year. At present, the new scale points have to be input clerically and then be checked carefully. This takes about 20 hours of staff effort each year, which can be costed at £20 an hour. System X has this feature, but system Y does not. System X also has a feature which can automatically produce bar-charts showing payroll expenditure per department. Such a report currently has to be produced twice a year by hand and on each occasion takes about 12 hours effort to complete. With System Y. changes to department names can be carried out without any coding effort, whereas in the case of System X. the supplier would charge a minimum of £300 to do this. 'Hie college authorities estimate that there is 50% chance that this could occur during the expected four year lifetime of the system. System X costs £500 more than System Y. On the basis of this information which system appears to give better value for money?
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.