BDC - Agile Custom Software Development | Case Study: RenWeb Portal
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Case Study: RenWeb Portal

RenWeb Portal

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The client: RenWeb
Go to client

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RenWeb's power, integration, ease-of-use and affordability are demonstrated daily in more than 3,000 customer schools as the leading provider of next-generation Internet-based school information systems.


RenWeb's unmatched convenience and service include complete installation of the software, including conversion of data, along with a client interface that provides easy access to more than 300 integrated features.

Developed by a university dean, RenWeb is leading the migration of schools from client server-based to Web-based systems, bringing administration, parents, students, and the classroom together with anytime, anywhere access to a full range of services.

Features include Admissions, Enrollment, Scheduling, Student Billing, Lunchroom Management, Health Management, Attendance, Homework, Lesson Plans, Grade Book, Report Cards, Transcripts, Extensive Reporting Capabilities, Automated Emailing, and ParentsWeb. For more information about RenWeb and its affordable payment plans for schools of all sizes, visit www.RenWeb.com.

 

The problem

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RenWeb's legacy application is limited to running on Windows desktops. Due to the breadth of it's features and variety of it's user base, migration to the web is a multi-faceted challenge. Our client's primary goals in a re-imagining project were the following:

  • Make it run on Mac desktops.
  • Make it web-browser based.
  • Remove the need for installation and application management by schools.
  • Easy to localize, so RenWeb can better serve it's international customer base.
  • Provide a superior user experience that is easy to sell.
  • Automate testing processes to increase overall quality.

 

The solution

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UX Strategy

  • The user's experience is cornerstone to RenWeb's brand experience. We got to know the users, what makes them excited to be an educator and what is frustrating in their day to day. Then we used amalgams of various types of users, called personas, and built every screen with one or more of them in mind.
  • Working with talented designers, we created and implemented brand and style guides to help the development team keep a consistent look and feel to the application.
  • A variety of domain experts and end users are consulted when design decisions need to be made. Testing of wireframes is handled with tact and in a controlled manner to get the most objective research data when we need to iterate through screen designs.

 

HTML/Angular vs Silverlight

  • In 2011, when we started the project, HTML-based line-of-business applications started to become a reality. So, we set out to study if the HTML/JavaScript could be brought to market as fast as with other options. At that time we found Silverlight to be faster to work with, and since the client's primary objective was to "get off the desktop", we had a need for speed. It was a little controversial at first, but the ROI was too compelling and ultimately the users were pleased with the results.
  • BUT... Technology always changes. We adapt as new opportunities arise and Angular is such a technology we feel strongly about. We began to pilot other projects with it in 2013 and measured development time to be as fast or faster than with Silverlight, so we were prime to make the switch. In 2014, we began Angular-based development of parts of Portal maintaining style and UX consistency across platforms.
  • A variety of domain experts and end users are consulted when design decisions need to be made. Testing of wireframes is handled with tact and in a controlled manner to get the most objective research data when we need to iterate through screen designs.

 

Integrated Development Teams

RenWeb is a tightly integrated solution for schools and therefore we work closely with development teams at RenWeb working on other product lines.

From data center operations to maintenance and support, we consult on and help develop technology initiatives and processes for RenWeb which are observed by development teams from both organizations.

 

Maintenance

  • We use systematic processes to keep defects under control. The process allows for a great deal of transparency in bug reporting, fixing, and deployment.
  • Quality of the code base is inspected often to ensure critical bugs don't creep in.
  • Users can choose to use either Portal or legacy applications, even simultaneously. Compatibility is maintained between so no data is lost.
  • We use a variety of staging and release candidate environments so testing teams at BDC and RenWeb can run additional end-to-end tests.

 

Retrospective

The jump in technology represents a big step forward for RenWeb. User experience aspects have helped users make the switch where a minimum of training is required to get up to speed. The project is developed and maintained within the client's budget.

RenWeb said about BDC:

  • “Fun to work with”
  • “Very, very responsive to anything that comes up and needs attention”
  • “Good personal attention. I often have to remind myself you have other clients”

For more information about RenWeb’s comprehensive school management solution, see: www.renweb.com