microsoft access and big brother sql server

Help4Access successfully completed an application migration project that improved functionality, application accessibility, and disaster recovery capability for Black & Veatch.

Black & Veatch, a global, consulting, engineering and construction company headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, worked with Help4Access to design and implement a custom application to assist in monitoring air quality at one of its California project sites.

Help4Access offers fixed price, although the time needed for requirements definition could not be known in advance

Help4Access was selected in part for its ability to provide a set, fixed price—without the traditional risk premium for fixed bids—for the project, despite large segments of the work involving research and development to create sophisticated risk analysis capabilities.

Sasha Froyland, Help4Access CEO, commented, “Black & Veatch needed a way to capture and report on the data as soon as possible to ensure that any problems with air quality would be identified and addressed immediately. However, such capabilities as anytime, anywhere accessibility and automated disaster recovery back-ups are back-end functions that can elongate a project timeline. This is where a multi-phase approach can be the best way to meet the client’s needs.”

Two-phase work split avoids project elongation

To achieve all project goals, the work was split into two phases. The first phase involved the development of the custom application and focused on capturing and reporting the air quality data. Help4Access was able to deliver these capabilities rapidly, drawing on its proprietary Bolt-On Library of pretested modules to quickly build in multi-level database and form-level security, ad hoc query and reporting, and data auditing.

Help4Access designed the application in the first phase to be cloud-ready; that is, with tables and data entry forms that are designed to always perform well in both the cloud and non-cloud environments.

Analytical functions and risk triggers were placed in a second phase so that data capture and reporting could begin within a few weeks from the start of the project.

After the successful implementation of the custom-built application, the several partners responsible for the overall Calaveras Dam replacement project asked Help4Access to migrate to the cloud. Once the conversion to cloud took place, and automated backup was added, this consortium was satisfied with Help4Access’ ability to communicate, understand requirements, design and implement complex analytics, and its overall risk reduction approach. The consortium developed a high level of confidence that Help4Access was capable of extending the scope of this application with sophisticated, high-level risk models and analytic options, and additional phases were added to the engagement.

Takeaway: Dividing work into phases—particularly where the first phase draws heavily on pre-tested ready-to-go capabilities such as ad hoc query reporting in the Help4Access Bolt-On Library—allows a company to derive benefit very quickly from a custom database application. A complement to both traditional waterfall and agile method development, this is simply a logical division of the project into what can be delivered quickly, and what can be handled immediately afterward—for example, the R&D-dependent sophisticated capabilities and migration to the cloud.