NewYork2008:Managing Custom Database Projects

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Designing and implementing custom developed database projects is one of the most difficult kinds of technology projects that one can do. How can you make this process a dream instead of a nightmare? How can you make get the information from stakeholders, work with vendors, train staff, and make the process move smoothly and on schedule? We'll share experiences, ideas and best practices.

Session Notes

(Session Note Taker will enter notes here) Databases

Will participants please add their names to the comments.

Participants: Michelle Norman Rees Rachel Hannah – pm for custom database Colin Harrison

Michelle: Unique differences between bespoke and off the shelf. Jim: databases I created are for a specific purpose, Aim to make it as flexible as possible Norman – some applications you expect to customise to certain degree Michelle: there are problems that nobody has tackled. Goal of funder to be moving in the direction of delivering these services. Significant problems with data management. Nothing out there that was specific enough. They need to be scalable and customisable. Build into consideration who could see what. Not sure it’s flexible enough Jim- a lot depends on who the customer is. Colin: sometimes the answer is a training issue e.g. taking stuff out of Access and put it into Excel’ to perform statistical analysis Rachel: sometimes not possible Michelle: support + maintenance issues Gabrielle: Will there be more users who know how to use tools such as Excel. You can use Excel to create cool images of your data Demo graphics of users makes a lot of difference. Had to create another dept. Salesforce is complicated Now have 2 staff supporting salesforce. Very powerful. Happy to link it to other software. App exchange platform. Hundreds if not thousands of apps available. Up to 10 licences free if you are a non-profit. Nicholas Carr: end of IT departments? The skills for web-based apps are quite different. Bespoke: You get to the point where you cannot go back. Before you do that, see what is available. Need: Advice about linking various applications Michelle: a lot of software is being developed in an open way. Look at APIs. What is new is that companies hare developed them for non profits. Sometimes they can be difficult. Question to ask is “Have you got an open Apr, and how much does it cost? What do you use? PERL, Java , php ,co_ fusion, Ruby, Ruby will be huge, as it allows rapid development of applications by having standard modules off the shelf.


1. Differences between going with a package and bespoke systems
2. Concept of a hybrid model
3. Before you think about the technology – what is the detailed information and processes that you need.
4. Documentation is extremely important. You can use a Wiki effectively to do this. Track-combination bug tracker and wiki.