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BCS Integrating off the shelf Software Solutions

Increasingly, organisations are seeking COTS (Commercial Off-the-Shelf) solutions to their IT system needs since these can offer more features, faster implementation, greater resilience and industry best practices.  It is important that the right solution be selected – which is where this course comes in.

The BCS Integrating Off-the-Shelf Software Solutions course is aimed at solutions architects, solution developers and business analysts wishing to gain a deeper understanding of the off-the-shelf approach to procuring and delivering solutions to meet business needs.

The course provides an auditable approach to software package evaluation and selection using weighted matrices using appropriate modelling techniques from the Unified Modeling Language (UML).

Integration of a chosen off-the-shelf solution is critical to the success of the COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) approach. Integration is considered from both a business and technical perspective: integration with business strategy and existing business processes and integration with existing software applications and data.

The course is suitable for all those involved in development of software solutions.

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Learning Objectives

Successful candidates will be able to:

• Understand the strategic issues
• Define a framework for effective software selection
• Define a framework for effective customisation and integration
• Define functional requirements at the appropriate level
• Develop a checklist of non-functional requirements
• Define product and supplier requirements
• Define system integration requirements
• Structure and distribute the Request For Proposals (RFP)
• Identify and investigate potential solutions
• Present recommendations about the fit of a selected software package
• Identify implementation and long-term support arrangements
• Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the software package approach


None - though an awareness of the systems development process is assumed

Course Content

Advantages and disadvantages of the software package (COTS – Commercial Off-The-Shelf) approach
Risks of the software package approach
Strategic issues: relationship of COTS to business and IT strategy, relationship of COTS to business processes
Tailoring of COTS solutions
Legal issues / requirements

A framework for software package selection
The ELECT framework and principles
Initiating the project
Packages and prototyping
ELECT matrices
Defining and agreeing weights: the Delphi technique
Published package requirements

Roles & responsibilities in package selection & integration
Project roles
Architect roles
Service delivery and management roles

Functional and non-functional requirements
Defining functional requirements
Fact-finding techniques
The Requirements Catalogue
Prioritising requirements
Function scoping: use case diagram (UML)
Defining use cases
Significant input and output requirements
Class models (UML) in package evaluation
Entity-Relationship Diagrams (ERD)
Types of non-functional requirements
Functional and non-functional requirements matrices

Product, supplier and implementation requirements
Technical and product design requirements
Supplier stability, citizenship and overall responsiveness requirements
Initial implementation requirements
Operability requirements
Infrastructure requirements
Integration protocol issues
Cost and time requirements

Evaluating and comparing software packages & suppliers
Request for information (RFI) versus request for proposal (RFP) versus request for quotation (RFQ)
Structure of RFP
The two-stage evaluation process
- Initial evaluation of RFP suppliers and shortlisting
- Evaluating shortlisted packages
Scoring system for supplier & product match
Identifying potential suppliers (vendors)
Supplier information questionnaires
Investigating vendors
Use case descriptions as a basis for scripted demos
Class diagrams as a basis for evaluating data requirements fit
Modelling the software package
Evaluating and documenting the evaluation: functional fit, non-functional fit, product requirements fit and implementation requirements fit
Reviewing the suppliers
Summarising the requirements fit

Procuring a COTS solution
Stages in procurement
Finalising the requirements
Contract considerations & reviewing supply contracts
Maintenance and support contracts

Component & system integration
Integration considerations
Application integration
- The application integration strategy
- Application integration patterns
- Component integration issues
- Modelling component dependencies
- Modelling component and sub-system interfaces
- Modelling the target deployment environment
Data integration
- Data migration and conversion
- Modelling data storage structures
- The data dissemination diagram
- Modelling high-level data flows
- Data transformation & the canonical data model
- ETL tools
Integration and other types of testing

Deployment & service management
Changeover strategies
Training and documentation
The deployment plan
Technical issues
The service transition plan
Final considerations

Exams & Certification

BCS-ISEB Certificate in ‘Integrating off-the-shelf Software Solutions’.

One hour written (open book) examination based on a business scenario with 15 minutes reading time.

This certificate contributes to the BCS International Diploma in Solution Development

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