Having held various roles in the Technical Data industry for over 20 years, there are certain, hmm, how would you say, “experiences with COTS (Commercial-off-the-shelf) software”, that should simply remain in the past.
Reflecting back to October 2009, in my new IT role I received S1000D business requirements across multiple business programs. These business requirements looked straight forward and simple enough to implement with the various COTS solutions available. Therefore, after spending many hours consuming every piece of technical documentation I took the business requirements to perform a system analysis to draft IT ROMs.
Fortunately, the CSDB system was well documented. Unfortunately, some of what would be considered an out-of-the-box business requirement, to my dismay, would require much custom IT software development at a high price tag.
For example, the new contract award levied an IT requirement, “The CSDB shall support Print Preview & Save As in HTML and PDF.” The CSDB is a COTS solution so surely, it’ll support this core function—nope.
The Technical Publications group requested the business requirement, “The System shall support the production of an Interactive Electronic Technical Publication (IETP)”. This is 2009, the data is compliant with the S1000D Specification and this CSDB COTS solution supports S1000D, so surely it supports production of an IETP—nope.
Another basic business requirement requested, “The System shall support Global Search & Replace.” The CSDB sits on top of Oracle so surely the system supports the simplicity of that function—nope, not even close.
The Domestic Program requested, “The System shall provide a report listing data module parent and child references.” Surely this simple requirement would be supported by the COTS CSDB software. Guess again. Not supported. Requires custom software development.
Tearing thru the documentation, evaluating the COTS solutions, and to my disappointment, even the simplest of Program requests such as recycle bins and changing user permissions, were not supported. As a result of my analysis with very few “COTS” solutions to evaluate at the time that did not include the R4i COTS solution, those business requirements required much custom software development.
Now knowing what I know today and after becoming intimately familiar with the R4i Product Suite, I can safely say that those business requirements are supported and have been since 2009 by the industry’s leading COTS solution, the R4i Product Suite. If only I was afforded the opportunity to include the robust R4i S1000D solution in my analysis back in 2009, my results AND the IT price tag would have been vastly different.
More importantly, as the newest member of the innovative Pennant IPS team, together as your industry partner, we will continue to enhance the COTS R4i S1000D Solution without requiring any further IT investment. Especially when it comes to meeting the simplest of business requirements.