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Helpful Questions in Identifying System Constraints
A variety of sources of constraints must be considered. These include schedule, return on
investment, budget for labor and equipment, environmental issues, operating systems,
databases, hosts and client systems, technical issues, political issues within the
organization, purchased software, company policies and procedures, choices of tools and
languages, personnel or other resource constraints, and a host of other considerations.
These constraints may be given to us before we even begin (i.e., “no new hardware”), or
we may have to actively elicit them. This document lists potential sources of system
constraints. Asking the questions contained herein should elicit the majority of the
constraints that will affect your solution. It will probably also be helpful to identify the
rationale for the constraint, both to make sure that you understand the perspective of the
constraint and so that you can recognize when and if the constraint might no longer apply
to your solution. The less constraints your system is, the better your chances of project
success will be. Once identified, some of these constraints will become requirements for
the new system (“use the MRP system provided via our current accounting system
vendor”). The following questions can be helpful in this process:
Economic Constraints
1. What financial or budgetary constraints are applicable?
2. Are there costs of goods sold or any product pricing considerations?
3. Are there any licensing issues?
Political Constraints
1. Are there internal or external political issues that affect potential solutions?
2. Are there any inter-department problems or issues? (hint: yes, but what are they?)
Technical Constraints
Are we restricted in our choice of technologies?
Are we constrained to work within existing platforms or technologies?
Are we prohibited from any new technologies?
Are we to use any purchased software packages?
System Constraints
1. Is the solution to be built on our existing systems?
2. Must we maintain compatibility with existing solutions?
3. What operating systems and environments must be supported?
Environmental Constraints
1. Are there environmental or regulatory constraints?
2. Are there legal constraints?
3. What are the security requirements for the system? What are the special security
4. What other standards might we be restricted by?
Schedule and Resource Constraints
Is the schedule defined?
Are we restricted to existing resources?
Can we use outside labor?
Can we expand resources? Can we use temporary resources? Can we hire
permanent resources?