Case Study: Scientific and Technical Information
The Business Challenge
QSMI teamed with the Air Force Materiel Command, DTIC and IITRI to design and field the “File Format Conversion System” (FFCS) component of the STINT System. Prior to this, STINT contributors at various educational and governmental research facilities were forced to submit their Technical Reports to DTIC in hard copy format, which were then scanned and OCR-processed into electronic format. This was a very time-consuming and labor-intensive effort, and did not allow for easy or timely display to Web users.
The FFCS is designed to allow the conversion of documents or images from a large variety of input formats into Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) file formats. The FFCS allows users in business enterprises, government agencies, or educational institutions to convert documents or images which they create using desktop office suite software into a file format which is ideal for data storage and archiving in a cross-platform environment.
The FFCS is designed to run on the Windows NT workstation platform. FFCS requires Adobe Acrobat, and is compatible with Image Alchemy PS, Microsoft Office, and Lotus SmartSuite products, as well as over 90 image formats.
QSMI worked with representatives of DTIC to integrate the FFCS application onto a Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) PC. Subsequent to this integration, a thorough regimen of testing was conducted, both in standalone and secure network modes. QSMI has provided DTIC, AFMC, and IITRI staff with briefings, demonstrations, and desk-side training on the FFCS system, as well as continuing work on documentation written according to the MIL-STD-498 standard (including Software Test Plans, Test Reports, Configuration Management, End User’s Guide, Systems Administrators Guide, and others).
QSMI's Approach to the Solution
We began the task as a six month study with a prototype system as the major contract deliverable. Our project team consisted of a Human Capital Management (HCMO) subject matter expert (SME), a data architect, and a senior software developer with personnel management systems experience. We began with the source code from a government-owned personnel system that QSMI developed for another customer. Our HCM SME researched the laws, OPM guidelines, executive orders, directives and other regulations associated with each of the workforce components, and fully documented them. Our data architect developed out data model consisting of all of the core and secondary data elements needed by HCMO end-users, and searched other systems to determine if data is being maintained elsewhere or in other automated systems. If so, can a "to be" system access the data? Meanwhile, our software developer used the Agile software development methodology to rapidly modify the software code and data model of the older system to finish an initial prototype based on the emerging functional and data requirements produced by the other team members. We presented our prototype and study findings to Assistant Secretary. After the briefing we received positive feedback, and the "green light" to proceed with the full development effort.
QSMI designed, developed and sustained a modular application using Web and thin client interfaces to access a variety of data sources. The ePTS system allows authorized users to manage personal, position, and support data, such as security information, parking permits, and contact information through a graphical user interface (GUI) for personnel reporting directly to the respective OSD Component as the parent agency, in addition to contractors, detailed personnel, among others temporary work assignments.
The ePTS application uses Crystal Reports to generate real-time reports of data from the Oracle database. Customized reports can then be viewed, printed or exported to applications such as Excel, for format modification.
For this development, QSMI instituted strict procedures for control of application software configuration and versioning. Microsoft Visual SourceSafe was implemented as the basis for the control system. Additionally, QSMI implemented formal procedures for testing and quality control to ensure that the delivered version met the customer’s expectations.
In addition to code development, QSMI performs the following support tasks:
Small group training for administrative staff, as well as desk-side training for executive personnel; development of a configuration management plan for maintaining the application versioning and installation on users’ desktops; validating software test plans.
Development of a Universal Interface in order to share workforce data with external applications.The interface uses open standards and is compatible with a wide range of platforms and operating systems. The interface is a “Web service” that uses the Oracle XSQL and Java programming languages.The interface allows external applications to request data from the ePTS data store, and once properly authenticated, the interface returns the results in XML format for parsing and use by the requesting application.
An add-on application to ePTS called The Locator.The Locator is a Web application that performs two very important organizational functions.First, the Locator allows employees to quickly find the organization, office location, and work telephone number of any person that has an active record in ePTS.Second, the Locator enables employees to edit their personal information in ePTS as permitted by the ePTS user administrators. Employees can submit changes to the ePTS administrators and, upon their approval; the information is dynamically updated in ePTS and available for immediate display on the Locator or in any of the ePTS standard reports.
An add-on application to ePTS called PTS Reminders. PTS Reminders is a client application that runs in the system tray on the user desktop, allowing the user to set “reminders”. Users can set up customized “reminders” on ePTS tracked dates, as well as “reminders” to run reports and data exports. The PTS Reminders application was developed using an improved architecture which consists of a .NET Thin Client and J2EE Web Services.
Benefits to the Customer
The OSD Enterprise Personnel Tracking System program demonstrates QSMI’s approach to developing reliable maximally functional enterprise applications – and for keeping a consistent strategic focus throughout a long-term program.
Furthermore, QSMI personnel have developed and maintained smooth working relationships with the functional users – Administration and Management personnel – throughout OSD, as well as OSD/CIO executives, key decision makers and other contractors; and, due to ePTS’ role as a “gold source” for organizational and workforce data provided to other applications, we are familiar with other major mission systems and enterprise applications both planned and in production in the OSD/CIO’s technical environment.
We believe that the work that we are performing at OSD/CIO and in support of OSD components’ missions provides us with the knowledge resource needed to maximize the functionality of mission-direct applications at OSD during this critical time.
Unique Capabilities for a Unique Customer Communinty