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RHD Operational Procedure – Management Services Wing
 
MIS and Estates - Software Development
 
OP/ME/3.1- Development, Design and Upgrade of Software & Database
 
Purpose and Scope :

This procedure covers the development, design and upgrade of software and databases.

The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that development, design and upgrade of software and databases is undertaken in a controlled manner within budgetary frames and with proper user participation, and support.
 
Definitions :

Owning Office - is the RHD circle who have primary responsibility for collection, input and maintenance of data in database. This is usually the same circle who use the database most often to produce report, export information etc.
 
Responsibility :

The Superintending Engineer - has overall responsibility for ensuring this procedure is implemented according to the ICT guidelines (OP/ME/1.1) and MIS plan and budget (OP/ME/1.2).

The System Analyst - shall ensure funds are available to cover the whole work plan before any programming is started. If the requirements exceed internal resources available, he shall ensure outsourcing of the task is done as per procedure OP/ME/1.3 (procurement, storage and installation). He shall ensure software developed is tested, that user manuals are prepared and that all final users are given adequate training to take over the charge of operating the software/database. This will require liaison with the HRD & Training Circle.

The Programmers - are responsible for ensuring that any software developed meets the user/client requirements and is within the frames of the RHD ICT Guideline and Annual Plan. They shall ensure that all software (developed and procured) is properly tested and that the users are capable of operating the software themselves by time of hand-over.
 
Method :

4.1 DATABASE UPDATE

Different database are established and owned by different circles in the RHD. These will need to be up-dated and improved from time to time:
i) to improve output (revise or add queries and reports)
ii) to improve functionality (change database structure)
iii) to upgrade software (move database to a new software platform).

These improvements will generally come from requests from the database Owning Office (see OP/ME/3.3) except in the case of software upgrade, where the requirement would be initiated by MIS.

Database development should only proceed once a functional brief has been prepared (Owning Office), responding design proposal prepared (by MIS) and both agreed between the Owning Office and MIS circle and work plan and budgets available identified and approved.

Some of these databases (e.g. RMMS, BMMS, HDM, PMS) are very complex and have been developed in stages over a number of years. Upgrading and improvements to these will often require MIS to procure services (OP/ME/1.3) by an experienced consultant with knowledge both of database programming and its function (e.g. road maintenance management). Update of HDM will normally requires involvement of Birmingham University or consultants experienced in HDM software and approved by them.

Major Programming to improve a database [items (ii) and (iii)] should be undertaken with care. This should use a copy of the original database, with data transferred to it and tested once the changes are made. This is to ensure that:
a) database can still be used while programming is carried out to create new version.
b) database is not “lost” if changes are unsuccessful. For this reason most databases are created with two separate parts: so the database program can be improve without altering the database tables which hold the data.
Minor Programming [e.g. (i)] should still be conducted on a copy of the database in use, to avoid data/database loss.
The upgraded database version should only be installed to replace the existing database version once it has been tested (functional testing by MIS and acceptance testing by User) by both the MIS circle and the Owning Office.

4.2 SPECIAL REPORTS USING TEMPORARY QUERY

Often new information or new report formats for presenting information may be required. This is generally done by creating a temporary query.
Typically, creating such a query may require between half-an-hour and day of a programmer’s time. This will select and filter information from the database to be presented in a standard report or for export (e.g. to Excel).
This should follow the same procedure described above with request for approval by SE, MIS or System Analyst, who will assign temporary query work to a Programmer.

4.3 NEW DATABASE

As RHD continues to develop, new databases will undoubtable be required. This should always be in response to a clear functional brief. Before creating a new database should always first ask; “can this be achieved by improvement to an existing database? ”. This is particularly the case where some data required is held within an existing database already often the request can be met by doing a temporary query (see above). In some cases, update to existing database may be required. In this case development should be initiated through a meeting with the MIS Circle and Owning Office of the existing database.
If no existing database can be used a new one may be required. The process of development for this is similar to that described above, and outlined in the flowchart.
Some parts of RHD may benefit from computerisation of existing records and systems. This improvement could be suggested by MIS Circle, who could advise where such a database could be developed efficiently and add real benefit to particular areas of RHD.

4.4 NEW SOFTWARE AND SOFTWARE UPDATE

RHD computer software is either general or technical. Technical software upgrade or development will require technical approval by the relevant wing/circle to verify and validate its use. The procedure for this for bridge design software is outlined in OP/BD/1.2. This details the process for approving specialised technical software and spreadsheet templates (used for design). This type of software will require functionality to suit a specific purpose, which will need to be clearly identified, discussed, renewed and approved before procurement is made.
General software could include word processing (e.g. “Word”), spreadsheet (e.g. “Excel") and presentation (e.g. “PowerPoint”) software. Upgrade of this software needs to be introduced carefully so:
1. All users should be able open documents produced by other users, so, in some cases, all users of particular software should be updated together; but
2. Upgrading software can make computers run slower.
 
References :

None.
 
Procedure Flowchart :

 


 


 

 

For duties associated with each grade of personnel see

 

Updated on : 1/1/2004

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