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AAUP 2007: Presswide Databases (C.Cosner)

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AAUP 2007: Presswide Databases (C.Cosner)

  1. 1. Outsourcing vs. In-House for the Press Database Stanford’s Experience
  2. 2. Stanford University Press <ul><li>~35 employees </li></ul><ul><li>Fully integrated presswide database </li></ul><ul><li>One in-house developer </li></ul><ul><li>Some development by other employees under the direction of the main developer </li></ul><ul><li>Portions originated in late 1990s </li></ul><ul><li>Current state for about 1.5 years </li></ul><ul><li>FileMaker version 8.5 </li></ul>
  3. 3. This presentation <ul><li>Summary of our experience </li></ul><ul><li>Helps and Hindrances </li></ul><ul><li>A checklist to help with your decision-making process </li></ul><ul><li>Ideas apply more to in-house development, but can be applied to both. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Save the patient! <ul><li>In 2001 there was talk of abandoning our existing system. </li></ul><ul><li>We decided to try to stabilize and improve it. </li></ul><ul><li>There were at least six different people programming parts of the system. It resided on two different servers, a shared drive, and some desktops. </li></ul><ul><li>There was very little integration between tables. </li></ul><ul><li>Data integrity and accuracy were huge problems. </li></ul>
  5. 5. In the mists of time… <ul><li>Marketing department developed some modules in FileMaker in the mid-late 1990s. </li></ul><ul><li>Press purchased a FileMaker system from Duke University Press in the late 1990s. </li></ul><ul><li>Some purchased modules were never used. </li></ul><ul><li>Re-engineered to include a budgeting module. </li></ul><ul><li>Hired dedicated FileMaker Developer </li></ul><ul><li>Integrated with existing Marketing and Accounting modules. </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing built dynamic website fed by FileMaker data. </li></ul><ul><li>Upgraded to FileMaker 6 and added more modules. </li></ul><ul><li>Substantially rewrote large portions of system. At one point I remember dumping over 600 fields from one file. </li></ul><ul><li>Upgraded to FileMaker 8 and reworked yet again. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Today <ul><li>High user satisfaction </li></ul><ul><li>Integration of data across the press </li></ul><ul><li>Track projects from receipt of proposal, through budgeting, production, and marketing </li></ul><ul><li>Easily add new reports and modify existing screens </li></ul><ul><li>Data feeds out weekly to our website </li></ul><ul><li>Data feeds out weekly to TMM and thus to Eloquence </li></ul><ul><li>Two university presses have purchased our system. </li></ul>
  7. 7. What Helps? <ul><li>Public To-Do list (during first 1-2 years) </li></ul><ul><li>Single developer AMAP </li></ul><ul><li>Train your developer </li></ul><ul><li>Written specs for new features </li></ul><ul><li>Refine specs BEFORE developing </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteer testers </li></ul><ul><li>Overtrain users for new modules/features </li></ul><ul><li>Fairly loose development timetables </li></ul><ul><li>Keep users invested in outcomes </li></ul>
  8. 8. What Hinders? <ul><li>Leave the system Balkanized (That’s a different department anyway.) </li></ul><ul><li>Have multiple developers without central authority </li></ul><ul><li>Develop directly from feature requests (It’s fast! It’s what you asked for!) </li></ul><ul><li>Handle feature requests in the order received (Be fair!) </li></ul><ul><li>Undertrain or not train users for new modules/features (Save time!) </li></ul><ul><li>Mix brainstorming, needs assessment, testing, training, and feedback (Hit the ground rolling!) </li></ul><ul><li>Let spreadsheets and pet projects define the resulting system (It worked for Bob.) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Checklist <ul><li>To help with the decision of developing in house or outsourcing </li></ul><ul><li>Will place online at the AAUP Wiki </li></ul><ul><li>Will be glad to send this presentation and the checklist to you if you give me your email address. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Which way is best? <ul><li>There is no single answer. </li></ul><ul><li>Implementation is most of the game. </li></ul><ul><li>Implementation is iterative. </li></ul><ul><li>Assume you might develop your own system. </li></ul><ul><li>Think like a software developer. </li></ul><ul><li>Systems do not solve problems, people do. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Questions? <ul><li>Chris Cosner </li></ul><ul><li>Systems Manager </li></ul><ul><li>Stanford University Press </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>

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