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Design Development Of New Information System

Sep 16, 2008

Opened New Markets by Designing a New Software System

Situation:

First Assured Warranty was using a proprietary order entry and claims administration system (FAIS) that was written in a procedural language that did not anticipate the existence of the Internet. Numerous elements within the system were "hard-coded" making expansion virtually impossible. As the company grew, the complexity of the business model increased, and the FAIS system was incapable of handling the ever-increasing volumes and the changing business paradigm. Being an Internet company, it was crucial that the company be an industry leader in using the latest Internet technology to gain a competitive edge.

Action Plan:

  • Prepared and presented a proposal to build a new multi-functional, fully Web-enabled information system that would provide 24/7 production capabilities, built-in scalability, multi-tasking functionality, expanded fund distribution functionality, and the ability to substantially increase sales/revenue volumes with only nominal increases in resources.
  • Designed the Apex system to operate on a Windows 2000 advanced server operating system using Microsoft's SQL server database and its Visual Basic.NET object oriented development language.
  • Built in the capability for replication, clustering, and load balancing concepts along with redundancy of all critical mission hardware components to ensure a 24/7 production environment.
  • Satisfied accounting requirements by integrating the Great Plains accounting system using a SQL server database to ensure tight integration with our proprietary applications.
  • Used advanced reporting tools in a data warehouse environment to provide real-time process-based reports using the production database; provided standard monthly business reports using the data warehouse database on a separate server. Provided Web-enabled "fashion your own report on the fly", drill-down reporting using a separate multi-dimensional "data cube" database.
  • Converted legacy data from the old FAIS system to the new Apex system. Employed existing users to quality assure and test the new system.
  • Successfully went live from the old system to the new system over a weekend with no business down-time.
  • Leveraged dealer and super-agent relationships to provide the ability to sell First Assured's products via secure access to the Apex system over the Internet.

Results:

The project was completed on schedule and the Apex system was implemented within the two-year development deadline and within budget. The new system has provided the means to expand company offerings into new markets that had previously not been possible. The built-in redundancy and clustering features allow the simple addition of servers to handle increased loads wherever needed. Because of the Apex system, the Company has expanded into offering extended service contracts on motorcycles and RVs and can add new product lines with very little new development. The new Apex system has allowed the company to add hundreds of dealers to its business partner group, representing an exponential increase in contract sales with only minimum increases in resources. Continual implementation of the newest Internet technology pre-empts competition quickly and provides an ongoing exceptional competitive advantage.

 

Forensic Accountant

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