Commercial Off The Shelf software (COTS) is usually produced without its users having much input into the development process. COTS products often must be operational in a number of different environments, but since they don't incorporate specific user requirements, they can often be produced quickly, with each new release addressing new user requirements. Their obsolescence is planned in that the product's true value only evolves after it's been in the marketplace for several releases and users have communicated the features they need the most.
The consequences for the software purchaser can be costly as they suffer the evolutionary pains as bugs, true requirements, and problems are discovered while the product's in use in a production environment. First users of COTS products are really beta users, helping to drive out the bugs, internal inconsistencies, and performance issues.
For users unwilling to play beta tester, a third-party, COTS, evaluation can help to identify some of the risks involved in buying COTS products and resolve some of these difficulties prior to purchase.
Back to Standards Compliance