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Introduction | The IPSI EC portal | Process decription | Requirements analysis | Subsystem selection | Prototype development | GUI development | Integration and system test | Conclusion | References | Slides

A Specific Software Development Process for an Electronic Commerce Portal
3.1. Requirements analysis

The requirements analysis comprises market analysis, subsequent proposal and contract evaluation, and project initialization. After this, the functional and non-functional requirements for the EC/EB software system are identified.

The first step of the market analysis is the creation of a positioning diagram. In this diagram, all potential competitors on the market are identified before extracting the direct competitors from the whole set and juxtaposing these with the company's own position on the market. The goal of the positioning diagram is to find new niches and to gain an overview of the duration of a competitive advantage on the market.

For the development of the electronic commerce portal for insurance agents, it had to be determined if other merchants on the market already offered a similar portal and which audiences those merchants targeted. Afterwards, the product idea was presented to several insurance companies, and one insurance company was won as a partner and potential client. During the proposal and contract evaluation, the feasibility of the client's requirements was clarified. The goal was a contract basis that was stable in every regard (content-wise, legal, mercantile), and a software system that met the client's functionality and quality requirements.

The identification and description of the portal's functionality and the priority-based structuring of these functions are very important tasks. On the one hand, the functionality must be sufficient to cover all requirements of the client, on the other hand, it must stand out from the functionality that competitors offer in order to gain an advantage on the market. It must also contain potential for further developments to ensure future market advantage.

An advantage over other products on the market can be achieved through high functionality. However, the realization of high functionality requires a certain effort, which is mirrored in the amount of time it takes to realize an EC/EB system. Thus, an advantage can also be achieved by making the EC/EB system available on the market early. This means that according to the "time-to-market" concept, especially EC/EB software systems have to be developed and introduced to the market quickly. The identification of requirements and the assignment of priorities to those requirements with attention to their impact on development time thus is a highly significant task when developing EC/EB systems.

The initial list of requirements that results from the market analysis is the starting point for the creation of a requirements catalog for the whole electronic commerce portal that is to be developed. This requirements catalog is checked for contradictions, redundancy and completeness in several ways, for example by interviewing users and providers. Users are persons or groups of persons who will actually use the portal, while providers are persons or groups of persons who will run the portal in order to provide its services to the users (in the context of this paper, the users are the insurance agents and the provider is the insurance company). Both users and providers have different, potentially competing requirements.

During the interviews for the IPSI portal, it became clear that some insurance companies already use supporting systems for their agents. These systems were examined in order to identify further requirements. After consolidating all the requirements from the different sources, the requirements catalog was corrected and extended as needed, and the requirements were checked for errors again.

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Authors: Volker Gruhn, Lothar Schöpe, Matthias Book -- Paper © 2001 The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE)