Acquiring Systems Off-the-Shelf: Challenges and Approaches


  • Jonas Hermelin
  • Nina Lewau
  • Susanna Nilsson
  • Helena Granlund
  • Niklas Hallberg

Publish date: 2012-12-28

Report number: FOI-R--3496--SE

Pages: 72

Written in: Swedish


  • off-the-shelf
  • COTS
  • MOTS
  • system development
  • acquisition
  • change management
  • need analysis
  • requirements engineering


The Swedish Armed Forces have, as many both private and public organizations, adopted an acquisition strategy based on commercially available products rather than custom development. The usage of these Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) products demands an adaptation of the processes regarding system development and technology adoption in the organization. This report presents some of the lessons learned regarding acquisition and usage of COTS in public organizations, as well as the effect it has on system development. These lessons learned are retrieved through interviews with The Swedish Armed Forces, The Swedish Defence Materiel Adminstration, The Swedish Migration Board and the Östergötland County Council. This report also summarizes scientific literature, as well as documented lessons learned from three international, military organizations. The results show that the Swedish public organizations, international military organizations and the scientific community all report a coherent picture of the challenges and advantages of COTS. For an organization to acquire the sought-after benefits there is a need of adapting its processes. The Swedish public organizations have approached the usages of COTS somewhat differently regarding for example change management. This report shows that the importance of adequate need analysis is even greater during COTS-based development than during custom development. Furthermore, this report proposes that by implementing organizational change management the positive impact of COTS-based solutions could increase within the Swedish Armed Forces.