Custom Software is a key advantage

Custom software gives a competitive advantage to the business that implements it well. It is software that is based on and implements specialist business knowledge that would not normally be found outside the organisation that uses it.

When developing custom software, the largest avoidable cost arises from reworking of code due to changes in requirements that are discovered after the initial specifications have been drafted and agreed.

This happens for two main reasons: firstly, the key specialists in the organisation who hold this knowledge are not found and consulted before and during the requirements specification and secondly, because the requirements were too vague when drafted.

In short we need to identify as much as possible as early as possible.

Separate Fixed from Variable

Project Specification followed by implementation is the most efficient means to develop computer software that requires specialist proprietary business knowledge.

The first phase, Project Specification identifies as many unknowns and risks as possible before implementation begins so that business processes are clarified before any code is written. It produces a clear and accurate picture of the scope, process, targets and impact of the software development project.

Project Specification has four key advantages.

1 It separates the variable cost/time phases of the project from the rest allowing you to timetable, budget for, manage and control the bulk of the project.

2 As the business processes are clarified before code is written it minimises the variable cost element of the project allowing the major phase to be done for a fixed price and timetable.

3 By eliminating rework this development method gives the shortest time and least cost route to the development and delivery of a working system by removing rework from the costly and time consuming phases of the project.

4 The involvement of key staff at the first stage results in an excellent match between your expectations and the final product.

The Project specification will include draft Process Definitions - PDs - for each organisational process to be supported by the proposed software.

A Process Definition - PD - is simply an expression of a business process in terms of the dialogue between user and computer. Each PD can be turned into a subsystem as described in 'How to Minimise the Risks and Maximise the Benefits'.

The Project Specification phase requires the most involvement from you. The second phase, Implementation converts Process Definitions into working code and is largely down to us (or the software developer if you choose to go elsewhere for it).

Both phases are iterative in that they each create prototypes that are reviewed and tested by you, altered by CCS and passed back to you until a satisfactory final version has been arrived at.

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