Chapter 18. Testing COTS and Contracted Software

(Note: Much of the material in this chapter derives from a forthcoming book on testing and supporting COTS applications by William E. Perry, Randall Rice, William Bender, and Christina Laiacona.)

Increasingly, organizations are buying software from stores. This software is sometimes referred to as “shrink-wrap” software or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software. The fact that it is commercially available does not mean that it is defect free, or that it will meet the needs of the user. COTS software must be tested.

Contracted software, or outsourced software, is a variation of COTS. The commonality between the two is that an organization other than the one using the software builds and tests the software. In contrast to COTS software, however, software development that is outsourced entails a closer relationship between the organization using the software and the organization building the software. Often, that closer relationship allows the contracting organization access to developers and/or the internal documentation regarding the software under development.

Over time, more organizations will rely on COTS software than software developed in-house. Although organizations will therefore need fewer or no software developers, in-house testing will still need to be performed. This chapter explains the role of testers when their organization acquires COTS software.


COTS software must be made to look attractive if it is to be sold. ...

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