More and more projects involve more integration of custom developed or commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components, rather than in-house development or enhancement of software. In effect, these two approaches constitute direct or indirect outsourcing of some or all of the development work for a system, respectively.
While some project managers see such outsourcing of development as reducing the overall risk, each integrated component can bring with it significantly increased risks to system quality. In this article, I’ll explain the factors that lead to these risks, and then strategies you can use to manage them.
I’ll illustrate the factors and the strategies with a hypothetical project. In this project, assume you are the project manager for a bank that is creating a Web application that allows homeowners to apply for a home equity loan on the Internet. You have two component vendors. You buy a COTS database management system from one vendor. You will hire an outsourced custom development organization to develop the Web pages, the business logic on the servers, and the database schemas and commands to manage the data. Let’s see how you can recognize the factors that create quality risks, and the strategies you can use to manage those risks.
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