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A Specific Software Development Process for an Electronic Commerce Portal
4. Conclusion

It has become clear that the software development processes for electronic commerce systems can be partially different from conventional software development processes regarding

  • the types of tasks
  • the order in which the tasks are performed
  • the roles that perform the tasks
  • the software tools used

For this reason, it makes sense to examine conventional software development processes with regard to their optimal suitability (time, cost, ressources) for this new class of software systems.

The development process for the IPSI electronic commerce portal is characterized by the high effort that was necessary to integrate the subsystems. This experience can be transferred to the development of other EC/EB systems, because the system usually always has to be integrated into a pre-existing software and hardware infrastructure. The integration effort comprises not only the design and realisation of interfaces (APIs), but also the test of those interfaces. The more complex the subsystems are, the more effort is required for the interface test since the necessary test drivers and stubs have to be equally complex.

Every introduction of an EC/EB system on the market should happen "time-to-market". Consequently, an estimate of the feasibility, effort and especially the duration of the development project has to be made early. A solid estimate of these factors can be achieved through incremental and iterative prototyping.

As in every software system, features supporting the user (e.g. a self-explanatory user interface and online help) should not be neglected in EC/EB systems, either. It is important that the user-supporting features are tailored to the intended audience of the EC/EB system. For example, in the e-government area with its very heterogeneous audience, user-supporting features are mandatory. The same is true for EC/EB systems used in an intranet, like the electronic commerce portal for insurance agents. The software development process must contain tasks for the creation of these features.

The way the user interface of an EC/EB system is designed significantly contributes to the user acceptance of the system. This means that the software development process must include the creation of a user interface prototype that can serve as a marketing tool and be a basis for discussions with ergonomics specialists. For host-based application systems, the user interface design opportunities are limited. Here, acceptance must be based on functionality.

Unfortunately, quality-assuring measures can be victims of the "time-to-market" philosophy. This is true for all EC/EB system development projects and can also be observed in the development process for the IPSI electronic commerce portal. However, the goal must be to model software development processes that ensure a consistent high quality of EC/EB systems despite the changed and dynamic conditions, and take into account the shorter development times for these systems.

< 3.5. Integration and system test | 5. References >

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