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[…] Table of Contents
Table of Contents……………………………………………………………………………………………..2
Chapter 1 Outsourcing Software……………………………………………………………………..3
Creating a New Software Solution—the Components of a Software Project 4
Creating a New Version of Existing Software……………………………………………….5
Project Visibility…………………………………………………………………………………………….7
Project Size as a Determining Factor……………………………………………………………8
Chapter 2 Blueprinting……………………………………………………………………………………..9
The Vision Statement………………………………………………………………………………….10
The Requirements Document……………………………………………………………………..11
The Product Specification……………………………………………………………………………13
Sectioning the Requirements Document…………………………………………………….16
Getting People Who Need to Read the Document to Actually Read It………22
Writing Tips………………………………………………………………………………………………….23
Reflecting Changes in Requirements………………………………………………………….24
Documenting Requests for Enhancements…………………………………………………25
Outsourcing Your Requirements Document and Materials…………………………25
Chapter 3 The Best Outsourcer……………………………………………………………………..27
Choosing a Service Provider……………………………………………………………………….31
Chapter 4 The Best Outsourcing Sites…………………………………………………………..33
General Principles For Using Online Services……………………………………………..33
www.elance.com – Old School Outsourcing……………………………………………….39
www.guru.com – Covering Every Base………………………………………………………39
www.vWorker.com – Focusing On The Code……………………………………………..40
Chapter 5 Project Management……………………………………………………………………..42
The Four Stages of a Project………………………………………………………………………42

 

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Chapter 1 Outsourcing Software

You have a need.
If you didn’t have a need, you wouldn’t be considering a software development
project. (Well, perhaps you just enjoy developing software and hoping that a need
for it pops up sometime.

That’s a hobbyist approach to software, and there’s
nothing wrong with that, but it isn’t how most people approach this kind of work.)
It seems like a simple process: you have your need, you describe the need to
someone else, that person writes a software package that fills your need, everyone
is happy. Unfortunately, it very rarely works that way!

You have a need—but you might not know what that need is yet.

It’s ironic but true—just because you have a need doesn’t mean that you accurately
understand it. It is common for businesses to think they need one thing when in
fact they need something very different. It is also common for a business to know
that it has a need—usually a problem that needs to be solved—but to have no idea
of how that need can be met.

Jones Metalworking has a computer-automated production process that
automatically cranks out stainless-steel widgets. They also have a website that
automatically takes orders online and produces a daily listing of what needs to be
produced.

Jones Metalworking’s management might think, “We need to hire someone to type
the sales list into the production computer.” Or they might think, “We need a
software package that handles both orders and production in one integrated
system.” However, their actual need is for some type of “bridge” that will take the
sales list and connect it with the production process, so that everything that is
ordered will be produced.

This could be a person, or this could be software, or it
could be something entirely different—but their actual need is for the connection of
these two business processes, not for more staff or a different software package.

When considering your needs, try and drive your analysis down to the most
abstract level. Figure out what your business need is. The odds are good that a
software solution can meet that business need—but not always. Don’t decide that
software is the answer to your need until you accurately understand what your
need really is.

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But once you do determine that the way to meet your business need is either by
changing some existing software or creating a new piece of software, you are on
your way defining a software project.

What is a software project, anyway?

A software project can be anything from modifying an existing program to display a
particular number in red rather than black, to creating a complete suite of
integrated programs that interact with users, each other, and multiple types of
hardware, networks and databases.

The software itself may be used only
occasionally by you or your employees, or it may be an integral part of your
flagship product. These factors must be considered when deciding whether
outsourcing is appropriate for your project.

Creating a New Software Solution—the Components of a Software Project
A software solution is more than a computer program, and a software development
project is more than just hiring a programmer to write some code.

When you are considering the use of outsourced resources to work on a software development
project, you can choose to outsource the entire project, or any of the following
components. And you may want to choose one firm to take care of all of the
components you outsource, or you may want to choose a different provider for
each.

Specifications: A written description of what the project entails, this is the blueprint
of the project. See Chapter 3 for more information about specifications.

Program Code: This is what most people think of when they think of software: the
instructions, written in a language such a C++ or Java, which tell the computer
what to do.

The program code will usually include a user interface (some method in
which the user interacts with the software), instructions to process or act upon the
data provided by the user, and perhaps interfaces to other software or to a
database.

Ancillary Programs: In order for software to be deployed to end users, it often
requires an install/uninstall program, special customization/security modules, or
components to allow communication with different types of hardware. These
ancillary programs need to be defined, written and tested just as the mainline
programs do.

Documentation: On-line help, user manuals, training guides—these can all be very
important part of a software package.

Quality Assurance: Although you should expect programmers to check their code
for errors, software should be put through a separate, rigorous test cycle to insure
that it works as required (and as documented).

Testing software is a complex and
important part of the development process and should not be left as an
afterthought. Chapter 6 covers this area in more detail.

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Creating a New Version of Existing Software

Perhaps you have already created a wonderful software product that’s popular and
profitable in its original market. You now want to make another version of the
product that would tap into a different market.

Create a customized version that targets a different type of customer. For example,
a company that sells ticket management software to theaters and sports teams
wishes to create a version that handles student enrollment for training companies.

If your staff are not experts in the new target industry, you may want to bring in
experts in that industry to help design the changes. In this case, you may want to
outsource the creation of the requirements documents but have your staff handle
the creation of the software itself—assuming that you didn’t outsource the creation
of the original product

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