|Document, share and reuse common solution building blocks||Increase visibility of and trust in available IT solutions|
An IT solution’s technical characteristics are important when assessing its reusability. Its internal architecture and the technologies it uses also have a huge impact here. For instance, it is often very costly or even impossible to take a system built for a specific purpose and adjust it to satisfy slightly different business needs. Similarly, systems designed based on old and inflexible technologies may be difficult to scale up to support increased usage.
7.1. Design your IT solution to be extensible and modular
To ensure the technical readiness of IT solutions, public administrations should develop them to be extensible, i.e. to be able to evolve beyond their current functionalities with minimal or no effect on their internal structure. It is also important for them to be modular, which means designed in a way that similar functionalities are bundled in independent modules. In this way, possible changes to one module do not produce serious impact on the other modules. Software systems have long lifespans and may be modified several times to add new features and functionalities demanded by users. Extensibility and modularity make it possible for developers to adapt the software’s capabilities and facilitate reuse.
7.2. Design your IT solution to be scalable
The scalability of an IT solution qualifies its adaptability to an increased need for technical capacity, such as the processing power, storage and network bandwidth to accommodate bigger numbers of users, transactions, etc., without diminishing its level of quality. Scalable IT solutions are more appealing candidates for reuse due to their ability to expand to meet user needs.
7.3. Plan adequate levels of maintenance and support for your IT solution
The availability of maintenance and support for a particular IT solution determines its technical readiness and trust in using it and, consequently, increases its reuse potential.
Public administrations should plan for a proper organisation of maintenance and support services (i.e. defined in Service Level Agreements) to encourage the reuse of IT solutions. If this support is offered by a third party, the accreditation level of the latter by the original developer should be taken into account to limit the risks associated with reuse.
7.4. Assess an IT solution’s maturity level
The level of maturity of an IT solution is a key aspect that public administrations should assess in order to determine the extent to which it is reusable. Mature IT solutions meet certain requirements in terms of:
• documentation, i.e. documented processes and governance, source code availability, technical documentation, installation manuals, user documentation, bug reports and fixes, contribution guidelines;
• software code quality;
• helpdesk and support;
• licensing .
|Supporting instrument||The European Commission has developed the Reusability Guideline and Checklists to help public administrations assess the reusability of IT solutions. |