Pathways Youth & Family Services had been using a system whose single logic layer design required twenty-four servers in order to support 500-1000 users. The cost of those servers? $70,000.
Through on-site analysis, we learned that this social service agency’s management information system (MIS) database had all the required functionality, so there was no need to evaluate the business processes. What did need to be addressed, though, was the efficiency – both in asset costs and in operating expenses – with which data was input, managed and disseminated.
We determined that this agency could be considerably more efficient if it retired the single logic layer and used a 3-tier approach to data management. Active Server Pages would be used for the user interface tier. Microsoft SQL Server 2000 would be used for the database tier. A mixture of Visual Basic and Microsoft C++ would be used for the business logic tier. The database would be designed using well-normalized structure as well as stored procedures. The database structure of over 80 databases would be combined to create a single database. The Visual Basic and C++ tiers would be designed for quick execution, testability and easy maintenance.
Ready for simplicity, ease of use and lower operating costs, the agency decided to move forward with the redesign. While in the midst of the redesign process, each part of the existing system was continually reevaluated and tweaked as needed for usability and function.
As is Anderson Technology’s custom, extensive testing was conducted throughout every stage of the development process. Once we were satisfied that we had achieved the client’s efficiency goals, the new MIS was released and all customers migrated to it.
With the new design, the MIS provided all of the functionality of the antiquated system with many surprisingly refreshing upgrades. The MIS jumped from running 500-1000 users to running 2000-3000 users with ease. Those twenty-four servers saddled with a $70,000 bill were streamlined down to two servers that carried a much more palatable cost of $11,500.
With the new MIS, all the original features were easily included, and customers were pleasantly surprised to find user-friendly complete financial tracking (billing, A/R) and reconciliation, Microsoft Exchange Server integration, Offline tools, HR (time sheet) and electronic file cabinet functionality.