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Case Study: Property management system project

Abstract

A UK based Software Company asked us to create an Asset Management and Estates analysis system.

This is part of ongoing development of the client's software system. The part we undertook included two parts: a web site for data collection &presentation purpose and a windows Form application for administration purpose.

Requirements

The requirements can be broke into three parts: data collection, basic information management and data report analysis.

  • Data Collection: Currently the data on the clients' side was gathered from a variety of sources and stored in spreadsheets.
  • Basic information management: This part includes user information maintenance, permission maintenance and basic data maintenance.
  • Data report analysis: This part combines the above two parts to generate relevant data through the background and show them on the website.

Solution

Technology required

  • .NET Framework 2.0
  • SQL Server 2000
  • Visual Studio 2005
  • ASP.NET 2.0

System Architecture

As per the requirements, we needed a windows program to manage the basic information as well as the work flow; and a web program to manage the relevant Service data for the organizations and institutions. We divided the system into three parts: Web Site, Web Services and Windows Form based application.

WebSite

Web Site was designed to allow users to input data easily from the client in any place without any support. In order to enhance the user experience, we used Grid constructed by jQuery and Ajax , accordingly the users could use it as easily as they use Excel.

Windows Form

Windows Form was designed for managers to input data and import data from cvs files automatically and setup permission, backup data, control the startup of business processes, audit data, export data, print, generate sheets.

Web Service

Web Service provided data services for Windows form; accordingly we could deploy the windows form program flexibly.

Challenges of the development process

  • One important thing is the integration and interaction with the whole system as this is a part of the whole system.

    We found out that all the data used in the system came from the other systems and facility after communicating with the client. Accordingly, we designed our database and architecture based on the data structure provided by the relevant systems and facility.

  • Currently the data on the customers' side was collected from a variety of sources and stored in spreadsheets. This process was time-consuming and potentially prone to errors.

    To address this issue, we at one hand developed a data input program, which enabled the client to manually input or modify the data; on the other hand, we developed a data import program, which enabled the client import existing data to the system.

  • Since the data collection process used to be handled via MS Excel and the client wanted to inherit the customers' convention, we had to provide similar functionalities of MS Excel on the web site. But the client didn't want to use any of the third party control.

    We had to create our own control to present the similar look and feel of MS Excel on web site, this was the most difficult part of the technical solution, but we managed to solve this problem before we really started coding, thus the risk was eliminated at an earlier stage.

  • Another problem we encountered was the unclear requirement of this project. Due to the tight timeline, the client only gave us rough requirement, and many features were not described in details.

    For the rough requirements, we made a prototype before implementation, and adjusted our design based on the client's feedback to the prototype.

Benefits to the Client

  • The customer now has a product which totally meets their requirements and helps them automate the data collection process. This reduces a lot of manual work.
  • With the deep-set trust between the two sides, the client can now focus their energy on the customers and don't have to worry about the software development and team management.
  • The parts we implement cooperate well with the whole system, saving the client's time to modify the whole system.