Ensuring Successful Implementation of Commercial Items in Air Force Systems
SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY BOARD (AIR FORCE) WASHINGTON DC
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Taking advantage of commercial off-the-shelf COTS products seems like a logical way to achieve significant cost savings. However, based on an assessment of 34 programs and organizations, only a few are realizing significant benefits. Most are struggling with its complexity and a few have failed miserably. The complexities are numerous and less than obvious. Arguably the biggest pitfall of all is inflexible requirements. A balance must be achieved between desired performance and what can be reasonably attained by integrating available and projected commercial products. In total, the COTS Study Panel observed about 25 common pitfalls that programs are experiencing. Most could be avoided or mitigated if appropriate processes or procedures were in place that people understood and followed. Requirements must flow into an architecture that can truly exploit the advantages of COTS. Contractors must shift from design and build unique products to buy and integrate standard products. Everyone coping with a COTS development is on a very steep learning curve and those that seem to do it well have been at it for many years. They freely admit that they have made every mistake imaginable along the way. Unfortunately, others cant imagine the mistakes they are about to make.
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies