Engagement Of Softline Solutions

At the first meeting we will determine which of the following two processes will follow.

  1. Supply resources on-site to complete a specific volume of development work.
  2. Provision of a new or modified system according to the System Development Life Cycle.

We will also agree on charge rates for completing the work in question. This will subsequently be confirmed with a formal letter from Softline Solutions.

Supply System Development Resources

If Softline Solutions is requested to supply system development resources, it is generally expected that the consultant(s) work in the client’s offices and often on the client’s computer and network.

Under this arrangement a flat rate for the hours worked on the project is charged for the duration of the project. If the client requires signed timesheets, these must be approved by the end of the first day following the week to which the timesheets relate. Clients are invoiced on a weekly basis and invoices will refer in detail to the signed timesheets.

The System Development Life Cycle

To develop a new system or make enhancements to an existing system, we follow a prototyping approach with the following phases. These phases may not all be required for every system developed or may somewhat overlap in execution.

  • Initial Specification
  • Detailed Specification/Design
  • Prototyping
  • Installation, Data Conversion and Training
  • Documentation
  • Handover

The time spent in the Initial Specification phase will be estimated at the initial meeting and charged for. The deliverable is a brief specification and an estimate to complete the development of the system. Please note that Softline Solutions are unable to provide fixed price quotations. All estimates are prepared with sufficient attention to detail. There are no obligations to proceed after the Initial Specification phase.

The Detailed Specification/Design phase may only be required if the system is large enough to warrant this. If a Detailed Specification is required, this will be prepared after further consultation with the client and will describe in detail how the system will work. There are no obligations to proceed after the Detailed Specification/Design phase, however, if it is decided to proceed after this phase, the client must commit to both the Prototyping and the Installation/Training phases.

Prototyping is the process of preparing a working model of the system, which is presented to the client for evaluation. The evaluation will generally result in minor modifications to the system. These must be documented and another working model is made available with all the modifications incorporated. This may go on for a few cycles. As this phase can easily stretch it is imperative that each complete functional module is evaluated thoroughly.

The prototyping process often highlights new requirements, like a new input form or additional reporting, not discussed previously. These must be estimated separately either at the end of the prototyping process or before proceeding if they are essential for the overall working of the system.

When the prototype is accepted and signed off by the client, all relevant users are trained and the system is installed on the client’s computer network. Some systems are developed as replacements for older, outdated systems and may require conversion of data from the previous system to the new system. This may be carried out during installation or immediately after.

If documentation is required it may take the form of:

  • User Guide – a document describing how to use each form and reports in general.
  • Operator’s Manual – a document describing how to complete logically connected business processes.
  • Technical Manual – this document describes the internal workings of the system sufficient for any developer to understand the building blocks of the underlying database and the programming approach.

The system may either be handed over at this point, or, if new requirements have been identified, these can be estimated and developed with much the same approach as the original system.