About the Client
The client is a mid-sized construction company in the US mid west. The client's in-house enterprise project management software was outdated, and they were looking for options to enhance functionality, performance and maintainability of the software application. Initially, they were keen to protect the investment that had already gone into it. Although aware of the advantages of web-based applications, they perceived high costs related to re-engineering and porting / migration of their application as a deterrent to move to a web based environment in the short term.
The existing client-server software placed significant overhead on IT personnel who needed to maintain multiple installations across various project sites. It lacked a single company-wide projects database that could provide management visibility and reporting across projects. Further, the application was not suitable for real-time collaboration among distributed project team members, much less for implementing collaborative work practices with external entities such as sub-contractors, vendors, architects, engineers and project owners.
The client perceived another critical problem that appeared to make a web-based solution infeasible in their situation. Construction project sites being temporary in nature were often faced with unreliable Internet connectivity. A web-based solution would work only if it could accommodate project teams at disconnected sites.
On learning about Silicus’ experience in addressing complex aspects of migration to web architectures, and the unique cost advantages of working with our offshore delivery model, the client’s executive leadership expanded the project far beyond its initial scope.
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Silicus used a conventional waterfall methodology for the project across its US and offshore development centers.
First, the functional requirements along with use cases and user interface prototypes were developed including the enhancements needed to the application’s functionality and business process logic.
This was followed by technical design and architectural recommendations to take advantage of a new generation technical architecture offered by Microsoft.NET. After the core development was completed, rapid build and test cycles were done till the development was completed.
Some of the functionalities developed by Silicus covered the major business processes encountered in construction project management, including:
- Contacts Directory and Distribution List management
- Job management
- Subcontractor and Vendor management
- Change Order and Funds Authorization process management
- Budgets and revisions
- Submittal submission, revisions and tracking
- RFI management and tracking
- Project document management – Quotation Scope, Contracts, CO’s, SCO’s, Submittals, Fax Transmittals, Correspondence
- Reporting – pre-defined and on-the-fly custom reporting
- Administration – security permissions, field customization
C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, Java Script
Visual studio 2008
Crystal Reports 9
Modular And Disconnected Web-Based.Net Architecture
The application was designed with an n-tier architecture leveraging Microsoft.NET technologies, and a modular functional design. Security permissions were configurable for modules, as well as specific jobs.
The disconnected architecture had two-tiers – in the absence of Internet access, project workgroups at the jobsite connected via browsers to an inexpensive server housing the local database and application. These servers synchronized on demand or at pre-scheduled intervals with the master server.
Greater Level Of Productivity And Collaboration Between Stakeholders
Silicus’ solution laid a robust foundation for project cost management, increased process efficiency, collaborative work practices, business scalability and recurring cost savings in the client’s organization. This was in addition to the 50% cost saving due to our unique project delivery model.
Other benefits included more transparent project reporting and consequent reduction of operational risk, an important parameter in the stricter environment for corporate governance.
The flexibility and extensibility of a web-based architecture have also paved the way for more strategic gains e.g. the roadmap envisions offering Internet based collaboration and project visibility to clients/owners, integration of inventory management functionality for better control over the supply chain, and integration of financial accounting.