Windows Applications

Case Study – MPS Group

, , ,

Project Overview
MPS Group is a large technical placement company whose primary asset is the list of technical people that they place in positions.  They were having difficulty managing the huge number of developers and systems analysts they worked with, and needed to develop a new way of managing all that data.

Additionally, the company maintains many local offices around the country, and each office needed to have access to the complete list of available people since many of the short term contractors they placed liked to change cities frequently.

The system they wanted to put in place had several restrictions.  They were not comfortable with having the information in a standard website due to performance concerns.  The industry they are in is extremely competitive, so they wanted to make sure that when a salesperson finally got a potential client on the phone, the sale would not be held up by waiting for a website to refresh.  They wanted a local application that would access the central database while still providing the fastest feedback possible.

An additional requirement was being able to operate while the network was down.  They were having a lot of trouble at the time with their communication lines, and had experienced several weeks where the remote offices were not able to communicate with headquarters.  To reduce the risk of this happening again, they wanted to implement a scheme where each satellite office would maintain their own data, but continually synchronize with the main office when it was available.

Solution
The Alobria Systems team worked with their in-house developers to build a Windows application that would access the data on the local database.  A main driver of the development was focusing on keyboard navigation so the sales people could access […]

Case Study – TSS

, ,

Project Overview

TSS is a company that services safety hoods for companies that work with chemicals that give off dangerous vapors.  The equipment is large and permanently installed so service needed to be done at the client site, and it was also very complicated so the technicians were carrying around many large binders full of technical information needed to service the machinery.  Also, testing the machinery to ensure it was performing properly was a many-step process, and sometimes hundreds of measurements were being written on paper, then entered into a spreadsheet when the technician returned to the office.

This manual process was error prone in the transcribing of the measurements, as well as time consuming.  It was often days before the client could receive the government required certificate ensuring their equipment was functioning properly.  It was also expensive for the maintenance firm when a technician arrived onsite and did not have the proper testing procedures for a piece of machinery.  Often the machinery owner would purchase a new piece and neglect to tell the service company, so the technician would arrive onsite unprepared for the new hardware.

Solution

We worked with their internal development team to create a system that would track all the testing information required for each make and model of machinery that could be tested.  This application interfaced with the billing department for automated invoicing, as well as the service order scheduling department to allow our client to schedule their technicians appropriately to get the full value out of their time.

We also made this application run while disconnected to enable the technicians in the field to enter all the data they needed directly into the computer without the need to transcribe it later.  By putting the […]

Case Study – Prosper.com

, , , ,

Project Overview
Our company was asked to assist the internal team at a company called Prosper.com.  Prosper is a peer-to-peer lending site, and is governed by many local and federal regulations.  As a result, the systems necessary to support this business are complicated and intricate.  Since the site is also very popular, this complication must be able to support a large number of transactions as well.
Solution
We assisted the in-house development team by working with them to develop a modular approach to development that would allow the different components to be updated and replaced more easily.  This allowed the different development teams to focus on different parts of the business without interfering with each other.
Technical Details
The services were implemented as stand-alone systems using WCF and ASP MVC.  Each system was planned and implemented using Microsoft Message Queue so it could be taken down and upgraded at any time without affecting the rest of the system.  This provided the network management team excellent flexibility in the way they managed the version rollout process.

By building each module as a stand-alone component, they were also all easily testable, which improved the quality control for the company.
Benefits

Improved Quality and Uptime
The system design allowed testing of each individual piece apart from the others, so the QA team could more easily focus on what pieces were working and which were broken.  It also allowed each piece to be changed without affecting the rest of the application.

Improved Developer Productivity
By using a modular approach for such a complicated site, the developers on the team were able to be much more productive.  Each small team could focus on the one piece they were working on, and not get distracted by all the other moving pieces that […]

Case Study – Financial Navigator

, , , ,

Project Overview
Financial Navigator publishes a commercial software package that helps high net worth individuals manage the accounting problems that are unique to their situation.  We were brought aboard to reengineer an existing, dated, system to give it new life without trying to rewrite all of the existing code.
Solution
Our approach was to use modern technologies to make all planned feature additions, but to keep the existing functionality in the existing technology.  As features were built that overlapped the existing older technology, the old was replaced by the new, allowing the application to continue to meet release deadlines throughout the reengineering process.
Technical Details
The original system was written in VB6 using a MS Access back end.  We were brought in to update this technology to C# using SQL Server.  The decision as made to keep it running as a Windows application instead of porting it to the web, in order to continue providing the fast keyboard response the package had become known for.  This meant we built all new interface components using WPF and the MVVM pattern, while using a services pattern to slowly replace the existing VB code.
Benefits

Improved Customer Service and Retention
The additional features we introduced filled the gaps in functionality that were in the product, and which the existing customers were asking for.  It also allowed us to deploy these features more quickly than if we had tried to rewrite the application from scratch in the new technology.
Increased Revenue
The additional features also provided more selling points the sales team could use when discussing the application with new customers.

Case Study – Decade Software

, , , ,

Project Overview
Decade software is a company that published one of the most popular of the public health inspection maintenance systems used in the public sector. This is a very complex system that maintains all the regulations for county inspectors to ensure local restaurants, gas stations, and other establishments do not break any laws regarding public health. Inspectors would take these systems into the field on laptops and use them while doing random field inspections, recording all the information necessary to either pass or fail a particular location.
Solution
We were asked to assist the internal team at Decade Software to update their system to run faster and with more advanced technology. We also introduced the latest quality approaches to their development team, ensuring the team would internalize the new procedures and continue with them throughout the rest of the project.
The system design required that the laptops be able to run and execute the application while disconnected from the network, then update all the information when they returned to the headquarters.
Technical Details
Since the application would often run while disconnected, it was necessary to build it as a Winforms application instead of a web application. We introduced Dependency Injection and other software patterns in an effort to break the existing system up into smaller pieces that were more easily managed.
Benefits

Improved System Performance
We were able to improve the speed of the system by using the latest technology and patterns to break the system apart into smaller pieces. Only the pieces that were necessary to run the current piece of the application were loaded into memory, thus resulting in better utilization of the hardware and a faster system.
Faster Time to Market
The improvements in architecture we made enabled the development team to […]

Case Study – Bank of America

, , , , ,

Project Overview
Bank of America had an outdated system to manage their Real Estate assets and contacted us to help them reengineer it and to bring it up to modern standards.  The goal of the project was to allow the 40 people managing the properties to work with the most up to date information possible, while automating as many tasks as possible.

The system needed to track the voluminous paperwork required when a bank manages real estate.  It also needed to track the scheduling of any necessary repairs to the properties, and manage the resale process in a manner that followed all applicable laws.
Solution
We developed a database that could be accessed from a remote location easily and quickly to allow the geographically dispersed workforce to work as a team.  We also built the software that would enforce the many rules and regulations concerning the resale of these types of properties.  Then we managed the day-to-day administration of the system and hardware, allowing the bank to focus on managing their properties.

For the business side, we helped the bank design the processes necessary to derive the most out of their investment in the new technology.
Technical Details
This system was meant to be an internal system, and the security concerns particular to this application required that it be built as and Windows application instead of a Web Application.  We used VB.NET since the internal team at Bank of America was familiar with this technology, along with a SQL Server 7.0 back end.

We distributed the application using Click-Once technology so the network, administration team could manage distribution from a central location and simply email out a link to the installer for the proper people to use it.
Benefits

Decreased Expenses
Our system decreased the paperwork and […]