Software Development Specifications and Performance Standards

Contracts for the development of custom software should describe and define the expected performance attributes and functionality of the software. The contract should also describe the equipment required to operate the software to ensure appropriate compatibility. Vendors should be required to meet or exceed an institution's internal development policies and standards. Therefore, before opening negotiations or issuing a request-for-proposal on custom software development, organizations should have a clear idea of the essential business needs to be addressed by the software and an adequate understanding of the organization's present and planned system architectures.

Contracts should identify and describe the functional specifications that operational software will perform and may identify functional milestones that vendors must meet during the development process. The development contract should also contain provisions that permit the modification of specifications and performance standards during the development process.
Software development contracts should contain objective pre-acceptance performance standards to measure the software's functionality. The contracts may identify particular tests needed to determine whether the software complies with performance standards. The contracts may also address what actions a vendor will take if the software fails one or more tests.


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