Date of Publication

5-18-2018

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Computer Science

First Advisor

Dr. Sandeep Mitra, Department Chair

Abstract

"Do we build it or do we buy it?" This is a question that is asked time and time again when acquiring tools for businesses. When this question is asked by student government, a unique set of factors come into play. This project is a case study of the various issues that come into play when a student government organization embarks on the acquisition of a petitioning software system, using which students can put up petitions on various topics. The student body at large should be able to sign these petitions online. Student government should then be able to monitor these petitions and act on them accordingly - i.e, they should be able to delete offensive petitions, recognize petitions that have reached a certain threshold of signatures and convey them to the campus administration, etc. At the start of this project, the variety of open source software tools for this very purpose appeared to indicate that this acquisition should be trivial. As we progressed, we realized that the numerous stakeholders that influence our requirements - from college administration, to campus IT services who will support the software frameworks and provide the server space for deployment - create a unique set of functional and non-functional requirements specific to our campus that make the "buy" option rather challenging to adopt. Furthermore, we discovered that even open source tools can have licensing issues that impose financial constraints, especially if advanced features are to be used. We, therefore, explored the "build" option for a customized tool, and considered a process we should adopt (including deciding on software, server and database infrastructure) to stay within our budget. This research investigates the pros and cons of both approaches, and keeps in mind both technical as well as organizational constraints.

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