Enhancing a Database… a real life case study
Our client is one of the nation's top three providers of broadband services in the nation. Their engineering division is responsible for the oversight of all manner of technical operations and “inventory” as well as maintaining compliance with FCC licensing and regulations.
To serve this goal and others, our client commissioned a third party to build a set of applications. The application included several programs (written mostly in Visual Basic and Active Server Pages) for administration, scanning, web access, and reporting on a SQL database which inventories all of the Regions, Systems, Head Ends, etc. in the organization.
Though the customized system met many of their needs, it had some key issues that limited success. First, the system had been over-developed; the layout of physical assets was structured differently for each business unit, resulting in no system of record. As a result, the cost of the maintenance of the code base was exceeding the benefits of its automation. Second, there were several nagging feature issues that needed to be remedied. Finally, it was developed by an organization that was no longer in business and therefore the original design/developers were not available to fix problems one and two.
Uncommon Solutions provided a solution that would allow our client’s engineering group to gain control, confidence, and cost savings in its systems while the system was tuned toward the advancement of its business objectives. The specific objectives were to:
- “Shrink” the system. In order to reduce costs, the complexity of the system needed to be reduced. This was accomplished by removing rarely used features and automating the processes to give the client the benefit of the data without incurring a large support cost surrounding manual procedures.
- Gain “Peace of Mind” on the automated functions of the system. Reducing overlapping automation to simplify understanding the system, testing, system documentation, and audit reporting were some of the strategies that improved all users’ confidence that the system would function predictably.
- Modernize the system to resolve the issues created by duplication of manual processes. Uncommon Solutions re-organized the physical asset hierarchy allowing the Engineering and FCC compliance divisions to utilize the same data. Through consolidating the number of entry methods to a single point, the problem of multiple entries of the same data was eliminated. Further, analysis services in Microsoft SQL Server were utilized to represent the database hierarchy and keep metrics at every level of the hierarchy.
- Gained efficiencies by having a trusted information system and reducing the need for the business units to keep their own version of the data
- Consistent measurement of key data and visibility into metrics
- Improved communication and decision making between business units as a result of one trusted source of data