Example Project Proposal
A Database System to Record Compliance with Software Licence Agreements.
The area of software licensing has become one that companies are under increasing pressure to address. One significant factor concerns cost. Software has become an increasingly expensive resource for companies. Software vendors have come up with a variety of pricing methods for their software products, particularly in cases where companies deploy software over Local Area Networks, and where the same software is used at different sites. Knowing exactly what software is installed on its computers, and who actually makes use of it, will improve an organisation's decision-making capability when it comes to calculating the number of licences for the minimum cost.
Another pressing issue facing companies today, is that of software piracy and illegal copies of software being installed on their computer systems. The increasing loss of revenue faced by software manufacturers as a result of non-registered copies of software in use, has prompted the formation of organisations such as the Business software Alliance, and the Federation Against Software Theft. These organisations are now supported by legislation that enables them to audit a company's computer systems and to instigate legal action against companies who are found to have illegal software installed. Most leading companies now have policies and procedures, or are in the process of developing them, to ensure compliance with software licensing agreements and with the guidelines laid down by organisations such as the BSA and the FAST.
This project is concerned with the design and implementation of a database system that will enable a company to record the results of a computer systems audit of its installed software and to demonstrate their compliance with statutory and other requirements relating to proper deployment and use of software.
Software Licence, Software Publisher, Copyright Law, Business Software Alliance (BSA), Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), Software Piracy, Computer Audit
1. To review computer auditing software packages and to establish the distinct features that are, or can be, applied in the case of software compliance.
Activities: Read literature on the use of software for computer auditing. Survey business and business computing journals and magazines for relevant articles. Obtain trial copies of relevant software packages. Informal interviews with consultants and practitioners working in the area of computer auditing and software compliance.
Deliverables: Section for report. 1000 - 1500 words.
2. To understand the characteristics of software licence agreements and the legislation pertaining to software copyright.
Activities: Read literature on vendor's licensing policies and software licence agreements. Obtain examples of software licence agreements. Review legislation concerning software copyright.
Deliverables: Section for report. 1000 - 1500 words.
3. To collect material relevant to prosecutions taken out by the BSA and FAST and to derive a set of requirements to establish compliance with BSA and FAST guidelines.
Activities: Obtain relevant documentation from BSA and FAST. Survey business and business computing journals and magazines, the computing press and the national press for relevant articles.
Deliverables: Section for report. Max. 2000 words.
4. To design and implement a database that will hold information relating to an organisation's compliance with the laws and guidelines governing software compliance.
Activities: Analyse the information collected and draw up a requirements specification. Select appropriate methods and design and implement a database and database application to meet the requirements.
Deliverables: Requirements specification. Justification for methods selected. Analysis and design documentation. Database schema. Implementation code. Test strategy. Details and results of testing carried out. Evaluation of product.
Write up a full account of each step of the design with justifications for design decisions made. Include an evaluation of the design following testing and implementation.
Access to libraries. Access to the Internet. Standard Pentium PC, Windows 95, Microsoft Access and Visual Basic. College computing facilities will be used for developing the database and for preparing the report.
1. Bainbridge, D. (1996), "Introduction to Computer Law (3rd Edition)", Pitman Publishing.
2. Chambers, A. D. & Court, J. M. (1991), "Computer Auditing (3rd Edition)", Pitman Publishing.
3. Microsoft Corporation (1991), "Microsoft Visual Basic: Programmer's Guide", MS Press.
4. Microsoft Corporation (1991), "Microsoft Visual Basic: Language Reference", MS Press.
5. Jennings, R. (1994), "Access 2: Developer's Guide (2nd Edition)", SAMS Publishing.
6. Jennings, R. (1994), "Using Access 2 for Windows (Special Edition)", QUE Corporation.
7. Cassel, P. (1994), "Teach Yourself Access 2 in 14 Days", SAMS Publishing.
Study this example carefully. It shows clearly, the relationship between an objective, the activities that will be carried out in order to achieve the objective, and the physical items that will be delivered on completion of these activities. Although an objective is strictly speaking, a noun in the English grammar, it is usual to express an objective starting with "To ..." followed by a 'doing' type of phrase. The description of an activity starts with a verb to convey the sense of an action being carried out. Deliverables are objects and therefore are described with nouns and/or noun phrases.
Notice that the objectives are set at a high-level, and reflect achievements for the project itself rather than for any individual product that might be built during the project. In fact, objective 4 incorporates in one single objective, the whole design and implementation of the proposed software product. For the purpose of project planning, this high-level objective could be decomposed into a set of lower-level objectives relating to the software development life cycle and its phase's e.g. "To analyse the system requirements and create one or more designs for the proposed system".
We also note that the Initial References section is poor. Although two relevant books are given, there are no academic papers or journal articles given, and the list of programming books and manuals should not be included. Only books that will be cited in the dissertation should be given. It would be unusual to cite an instructional text or training manual.