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Amarco case study: Business intelligence project (BI)

A company that has developed proprietary business intelligence tools needs to upgrade them.

These tools are used by internal and external customers that can produce very comfortably market analysis and value added cross tables. The customers use an intuitive graphical interface to produce the data requests and set up the output report format. There is no requirement to master any SQL-like queries or for specialized IT intervention to produce customized programs and reports with tools like SAS, BO... The reports generated may also be personalized and addressed automatically by email to target users.

The current problem is that these tools were developed by a contractor that is no more able to maintain and further develop them.

Our customer envisaged first to use the existent source code to find another contractor for these purposes. An audit mission for the source code was commissioned.

The audit showed that there is no intermediate documentation, that the source code was of low quality and had no useful comments. It was a typical example of "spaghetti code", with millions of C / C+++ code lines. Add-ons  were continuously layered, with lots of redundancies. Any discussion about the application leads inexorably to code chunks. High priced estimations accompany any tentative to touch the code by outside companies.

Giving some perspective to the analysis, we see that this company has lost track of the  "knowledge objects" that made its business application.  This information is dissolved to code information only. All higher architecture forms  - in Amarco, we call them the "Archo" (architectural) objects - were lost. .

Our intervention helped rediscover the real functional surface and limits of the application. It showed graphically its external and internal architecture in a way the company management was able to approve further development directions. The first structural down level was clearly identified. The services the application supports were associated with priorities for the forthcoming application overhaul.

The result is a clear requirements document and a reasonable action plan (target functions, time table) to get finally an extensible and maintainable solution. At the end of the project the company gets back the control upon its strategic product and insures the proper satisfaction for its own customers.