Social-technical COTS Development: The STACE Contribution



Laurence Brooks

School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics
Brunel University Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH


Douglas Kunda

Project Manager
Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (IFMIS)
Ministry of Finance and National Planning
PO Box 50062
Lusaka, Zambia


COTS-Based Systems (CBS) development is the process of integrating existing software components to create larger software systems. The success of these systems depends on appropriate evaluation and selection of the software components to match requirements. Previous research shows that successful selection of ‘off-the-shelf’ systems to fit customer requirements remains problematic, mainly because of a lack of appreciation of the non-technical issues in the evaluation. This paper presents the outcome of series of studies aimed at using a social-technical approach to identify and classify processes (including traditional and soft factors) that support COTS software selection. The development of the STACE (Social- Technical Approach to COTS Evaluation) framework is explored, in order to show how the iterative processes relate and influence each other. From this, it is possible to minimise the risks and address problems in the selection of COTS software.

KEYWORDS: Social-technical, component off-the-shelf, COTS-based systems development, requirements engineering, requirements elicitation, evaluation.