COTS Selection

A COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) application (package) selection project has two primary objectives.  The first is to identify and document a set of requirements that may be addressed by purchasing and implementing a software package.  The second is to create a set of deliverables that the organization can use to determine objectively which package is best suited to those needs.

Meeting the objectives of a package selection project involves creating a number of deliverables: evaluation plan, requirements analysis, package evaluation, vendor viability analysis, in-house evaluation, and the final recommendation.  The evaluation plan documents the tasks required to complete the evaluation and the cost and schedule for the project.  The requirements analysis documents the exact requirements the purchased package must satisfy.  The package evaluation consists of documents that can be sent to vendors to determine how closely their package meets the requirements as well as an evaluation of each vendor's response.  The vendor viability analysis documents the vendor's strength from a business perspective.  The in-house evaluation facilitates bringing a package in-house for an in-depth evaluation.  Ultimately, the final recommendation brings all of the work together for a final decision on the optimal package.

Deliverables Checklist

Deliverable: Answers the Question:
Request for Proposal (RFP) A RFP will provide the following:
  • Informs vendors that your organization is looking to procure a software application package and encourages vendors to make their best effort.
  • Requires the organization to specify what it proposes to purchase. The package requirements specification is usually incorporated within the Request document.
  • Alerts vendors that the selection process is competitive.
  • Allows for wide distribution and response from vendors.
  • Ensures that vendors respond factually to the identified requirements.
  • Describes the structured evaluation and selection procedure, so that an organization can demonstrate impartiality.
Evaluation Plan What resources will be required to create each of the package selection deliverables?
What tasks should be included in the evaluation project plan?
What is the projected completion date for each of those tasks?
What is the projected cost of the project?

Requirements Analysis What are the business requirements the package must satisfy?
What business processes must the package support?
What information must the package process?
What are the technology requirements?

Package Evaluation What requirements are the package vendors expected to address?
Which vendors are to be evaluated?
How does each vendor's package meet the business requirements?
What customizations are required for each package?

Vendor Viability Analysis How is the vendor's financial strength?
What are the vendor's development practices?
What are the references for each vendor?

In-House Evaluation What are the expectations for an in-house evaluation of the package?
What is the required environment for the evaluation?
What are the acceptance and failure criteria?
How will the results be recorded and used for a decision?

Final Recommendation What are the values and percentages of fit for each package in each of the following categories?
  • Requirements suitability
  • Vendor viability
  • In-house evaluation
What is the total cost for each package?
Are there any final thoghts, concerns, open issues, or assumptions?
Which package should the organization select (or should we possibly postpone the decision and/or build it ourselves)?

© G.E. Russell & Associates 2015