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A State-of-the-Practice Survey of Off-the-Shelf Component-Based Development Processes - page 3 / 14

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into account, are more suitable for COTS-based development than the traditional waterfall or evolutionary approaches.

The National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) has been developing systems using COTS components for many years (see [10] for the summary of ex- perience made). Various processes, used across 15 projects, were examined and used as a basis for a common COTS-based development process.

The Software Engineering Institute developed the Evolutionary Process for Inte- grating COTS-based Systems (EPIC) [1]. EPIC integrates COTS component related roles and activities into a RUP process. The iterative and evolutionary nature inherent in EPIC allows developers to adjust the architecture and system design, as more knowledge is gained about the operations of the COTS components.

Our investigation on COTS-based development process in Norwegian IT compa- nies, however, revealed that the main COTS-based development process is to custom- ize the traditional development process to account for use of COTS components [6]. In addition, in all our investigated projects, the project members decided the main process before they started to think about using COTS components. To verify our findings, we needed more representative samples. Therefore, our first three research questions RQ1 to RQ3 are designed to examine the state-of-the-practice of the actual development process in OTS-based projects.

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    RQ1: What were the actual development processes in OTS-based projects?

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    RQ2: Was the actual development process decided before the make vs. acquire decision or after the make vs. acquire decision.

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    RQ3: Who decided the actual development process?

    • 2.2

      COTS component selection and evaluation process

Based on case studies, researchers have proposed several COTS component selection processes and methods. Some of the direct assessment processes, such as OTSO [5], CAP [13], and CISD [8], assume that the requirements are fixed and select the COTS components by comparing how well the COTS component candidates satisfy the requirements. A formal decision-making process is usually used to select the “best” COTS component [12]. The formal decision-making process usually includes three basic elements: selecting evaluation criteria (factors), collecting and assigning values to these criteria, and applying formal decision-making algorithms such as MAUT [9], MCDA [11], and AHP [14]. However, both the study of Torchiano and Morisio [16] and our exploratory study [6] showed that these formal selection methods were sel- dom used. In fact, our exploratory study discovered two other popularly used selec- tion processes. One is familiarity-based selection process and the other is Internet search with trial-based selection process. In addition, our exploratory study con- cluded that there are common new activities and that the possible variations are when and how to perform them, especially when and how to select COTS components. Therefore, research questions RQ4 to RQ6 are designed to investigate how OTS components were selected.

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    RQ4: What was the actual selection process used?

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    RQ5: When was the OTS component selected?

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