Custom Application Development

Read about how we helped WorldVision migrate an Access database application to a custom ASP.NET, MS SQL Server platform.

WorldVision's internal Gift Planning database had become technologically obsolete. The system which had been designed in Microsoft Access was cumbersome to expand and update. Additionally as the number of users accessing the system had grown, performance had become an issue. Reports were taking longer and longer to generate. Occasionally the system would completely crash. Functionally there were many updates needed to improve reporting and user productivity.

When WorldVision originally engaged Big Step they were primarily interested in trying to resolve the issues with the existing platform. The other developers they had talked to indicated that the cost of upgrading to a more enterprise level solution was far outside of their budget. It became clear to us very early on though that MS Access was simply not a suitable format for their needs. After analyzing the existing application's functionality and data we concluded that we could indeed upgrade their core technology while still working within their budget. We put together a proposal to port the application and its data to a new web based interface with a MS SQL backend. This new application would be scalable, support hundreds of concurrent users and allow their remote team to easily access important data from any web browser. Additionally, by leveraging SQL Server Reporting Services we would be able to enable them to easily generate customized reports in a variety of formats (PDF, Word, Excel).

We began work utilizing the existing Access Database as our functional spec. By reviewing the existing code base we were able to ensure that essential business rules and calculations were transferred into the new web application.

As we began working with the existing database we noticed that the underlying data structure was not designed in a relational manner and was not properly normalized. In order to reduce the size of the dataset, optimize performance, and minimize complications with future changes, we created a series of import scripts to import the data and transform it into a new normalized schema we had designed.

As a web based application that needed to mimic the experience of desktop CRM/Accounting software, many web 2.0 features were added to the new system. Small additions such as auto suggest drop down lists and automatic change detection & save notifications all increased the usability and functionality of the system.

The end result was a completely new, scalable application that met all their organizational needs - delivered on time and on budget. The system continues to grow in the amount of data it tracks as well as the number of users who utilize it. We are pleased to continue our relationship with WorldVision expanding and customizing the system as new requirements development.

Core Technologies:
MS SQL 2005
SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)


Just Some of our Happy Clients...