How does a unit get specialist software developed?

Discussion in 'Royal Signals' started by warcorro, Jan 5, 2007.

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  1. Hope this is the right forum to ask this question.

    Is there anywhere in the Army or MOD which will creater a basic software application for a TA Unit? i am involved with a specialist TA unit, and we have recognised the need for a single interface that allows about 12 users on a local network to access the same files, spreadsheets, a database, forms that can be filled in to create an electronic logsheet, and have a simple messaging system between users. It would probably be in the form of a web page avail to net users only not the www. it doesnt require any fancy calculation stuff, and is mostly a way of grouping together information on existing Microsoft products. We have created a dummy showing what it should look like. We need someone to make it work. Is there anywhere in the system we can turn to??
  2. There are commercial applications that will do this - MS Sharepoint springs to mind. There will be licensing costs, but any IS engineer should be able to configure it to your needs. Before launching down the slow and expensive MOD route (LAIPT or others), I'd look to do it within the expertise available in the TA - try 2 Sig Bde for further advice. Its geek-rich.
  3. Don't forget accreditation issues as well-this could mean a long delay!
  4. I would encourage you to have a look at the new 2007 version of Microsoft Office, specifically the Groove application which is used to create distributed "workspaces" to allow for information sharing and handling its replication and updating. A very good tool this, which myself and Ghost_rider had a play with last year. The product is in beta version at the moment. Groove also offers instant messaging, whiteboarding, voice chat (in pretty much the same way as MSN Messanger), it comes in both server (giving you your back end) and client versions.

    There are avenues you can following through the IPT's, however development of bespoke software isn't an easy route to follow in the days of DII. Development, testing, Integration and maintenance of your product would be hugely cost prohibitive, and as you say in your post, what you are really looking for is information and application sharing. The tools are already there, you need to see if you can find the relevant experience in your organisation to develop a solution.

    Please PM me with some specifics and I will see what I can do to help.
  5. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    As mentioned by others, try to avoid proprietary SW development and get 1 (or more) COTS (Common Off The Shelf) products to do the job. Maybe worth enquiring if you could get support in definition of the user requirements and to outline a system specification (known within IT as a Business Analyst). Then you could go direct to a vendor or consultantancy and get a turnkey configured product for a fixed price. What you mentioned does not sound unusual or uncommon. MS Sharepoint use maybe covered under your existing license depending on how it was procured and sounds like it could cover a lot of your needs.
  6. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

  7. What you describe is pretty straightforward and will be delivered as part of DII(F) which has started appearing in TA units now, and for which the roll-out will be completed over the next few months. If you do need Sharepoint (and I'm not sure, from your post, that you will) then you'll find it will be available as part of a DII software upgrade in late 07/early 08. And although it is not yet guaranteed, it is quite likely that the OA applications on DII will be upgraded to MS Office 2007 at about the same time.

    If your requirements are more complicated then you may be able to get some help from the G6 branch of your local regional brigade HQ. That said, in order to justify spending the very limited funds that exist you will have to demonstrate why you can't manage with the same applications as everyone else.

    Best wishes

  8. Or making you nearly restart smoking several times in one afternoon ..... referential integrity ... such a sexy word ..... JSP440 DBA porn

    soz .... off to have a beer and get back to the real world
  9. DII/F claims to have collaboration tools all wrapped up, however time will tell. MS Sharepoint sounds like what you need - read up on it online and you'll see whether it's of use. Web 2.0 technologies are very en-vogue. Wikis to act as an info repository, an IM client for interpersonal comms and an RSS reader for up-to-date news. Oh, and webmail incase you get scared of the new technology. Job done.
  10. A2_Matelot

    A2_Matelot LE Book Reviewer

    Careful boys, all reasonably interesting advice but the question you have to consider is a simple one: If you get it built, how is your gucci application going to be supported?

    Is anyone going to create a proper User Requirement Document/System Requirement Document? If not how does the designer and developer know when they've done what the users want?

    Who is going to pay - probably simple upfront, bit of an underspend..

    Who is going to support it thereafter, especially when you get into the scenario 6 months later when the Unit PSIs have rotated and it doesn't do quite what they'd like?

    This is one of the biggest problems MoD faces now and it will get worse as we move to DII(F) because then Access and other VB/VBScript applications cannot be hosted unless they have gone through integration testing so you have to approach application development properly which = time and serious money. And the development environments will only exist on certain parts of DII(F).
  11. From what warcorro said, it doesn't need that. As I read it all they asked was for a computer on a network. A system requirement document isn't needed maybe a justification for eRAS laptops.

    As for sustainability, maybe your right. The TA element of this corps is hidding away and only coming out to support fixed Bde HQ's or large ARRC comms exercises, other customers such as the Media Group(V), 2 Med Bde etc are being ignored.
  12. The civvies also get upset when we military types work it out for ourselves. They prefer to go away and come back with a lucrative multi-£ solution that only they can support.
  13. A2_Matelot

    A2_Matelot LE Book Reviewer

    Ah PD, I knew you wouldn't resist.

    Thats my point, there are lots of competent boys and girls out there and they crack on and make things work. Trouble is, is the next person as interested, able or even willing?

    And whilst not every request needs a URD/SRD, even if its a 'simple' quick request you will all know of examples whereby such systems have become used daily to the point of becoming almost essential then the one person with all the knowledge in their head leaves and the system degrades into total disuse.

    Been there got the tea & biscuits for developing ACCESS, VB and SQL Server solutions. Also got wholly reamed out by exceptionally unhappy SO1's who later had to find money to get people to properly document and maintain said solutions that had mysteriously managed to spread far and wide.
  14. Amen!
    I recall knocking up some batch files a while back to automate various rigorous BOWMAN routines, It seemed perfect sense at the time since it saved us several hours of mundane pointing and clicking, However It polarised opions between the "good effort, that saves us hours!" crowd and the "hmm, not sure you should be doing that..." AKA "I don't understand. Don't do things I don't understand."
    Needless to say my pro-active attitude was soon quashed and the batch files deleted. :roll: