Business Objective: Implement a technological solution to increase transparency in the business communication.
Technical Objective: Implement a centralized IT platform that can increase communication efficiency through out the enterprise while keeping in mind the following objectives:
- System should be scalable in both capacity and enabling new features
- System should be easy for end-user to learn and participate
- It is a multi-dimensional, multi-departmental project so processes of each department has been decomposed to meet the business objective
After reviewing various COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) including hosted, web based and/or standalone enterprise applications, the decision was finalized to develop a fully custom built enterprise application. This decision was made after considering the following factors:
- Cost of maintaining a COTS application such as hosting, licensing and maintenance
- Long term value of the COTS and Cloud environment tend to get expensive as number of users and/or amount of data increased. It seemed that it would cost almost 1.5 time the cost of building a software within 3-5 yr period
- A 100% customized solution wasn’t available, so users would have to sacrifice some of the requirements as this will not be met by the COTS provider
Based on conducting the requirement study for this project, the following features were considered as the most required features based on the MoSCoW (Must, Should, Could, Won’t) prioritization method:
- Document Management System
- Learning Management System
- Ticketing System (Help Desk)
- Asset Management System
- Client Interaction System
- User Management System (Internal)
The architecture of the product ensure that each functionality in this section “talked” to each other to ensure there were no data duplication and also to ensure that data can be retrieved easily. One such example :
When a ticket is created for an issue with a computer performance in the Ticketing System, this is also logged against this particular computer in the Asset Management System. So that during Hardware Reviews/Audits if this hardware seems to be a problem they can be scheduled for replacement.
The architecture also took into consideration the following standards:
- Implement some of the best standards on Electronic Document Management (EDM) such as AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management – www.aiim.org), NARA (National Archives and Records Administration), and ARMA (Association of Records)
- Utilize an existing Learning Management System (LMS) that integrates with SCROM in both creation and presentation of the learning materials
- Create a Help Desk Ticketing and Support platform for IT and Non-IT related activities using the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) Service Management framework
- Follow the ITIL standards for Asset recording, storing and safe disposal
- Create a Client Interaction Environment focused at both Internal and External clients using the best standards in Customer Loyalty such as Net Promoter Score, Quiz/Survey, Photo Gallery, Video Streaming, Audio Streaming etc.
- Effective management of internal employees by creating a community feeling such as Profile Photo, Birthday announcements, Work Anniversary announcements etc. and customization options along with easily accessible tools such as Dashboards and KPI (Key Performance Indicators)
Enough consideration was given to security starting from the coding practice to integration of open-source platforms. Some of the security considerations are:
- Though termed as intranet system, the platform had to be accessed through internet for remote users. This added the security layer to ensure access to users who were given external access via IP and Username controls while rejecting other users
- A role-based user interface was provided to different users based on user group model. Such as view for a Management User Group would have a different view from the Clinic Manager User Group
- Encrypting data using SSL certificate
The product was developed in PHP/MySQL and deployed on a Windows Standard 2008 R2 server on a WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) stack on a VMware virtualized environment.
Closer to the release of the application, the operations team along with the technology team started working on “tagging” the assets that needs to be recorded to the Asset Management System. Consulting with the finance manager, decision was made to tag any item that is worth more than $200 during the time of purchase.
At the same time, marketing started working on standardizing, cataloging and indexing documents that can be fed into the Document Management System.
All respective departments were also working towards centralizing and “cleaning” their document repository to ensure the correct data is being fed into the platform.
After adequate testing, the product was launched for a “soft launch” within the corporate team. Ensuring that all the managers in various departments has a visual feed on the system and its functionality. This was followed by a hands-on workshop for the team such as creating documents, tagging them and circulating them.
The next step was to train the entire staff of the company. A phased training approach was selected for this so that individuals can be paid attention and also because the system behaved in a “Role-based” user interface. Such as the KPI and other features were available to Clinic Managers and not to Clinicians etc.
The intranet system helped the company in establishing standards for their communication issues that they were facing. In-addition to this, the platform due to its scalable nature, was also able to expand to other areas of their business which helped implementing new features by re-writing their existing processes. Such as Reporting on AR (accounts receivables), Inventory Management etc.