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SOFTWARE COMPANY CASE STUDIES

Version 1.0: 12th April, 2007
Presented by: Amit Soni
Customer profile
Industry: IT, Software, CRM Domain
Case Study for Client CRM
Company profile
Client is an IT organization that intends to launch to major software products in Europe and USA. The main USP of the package will be:
“Say Goodbye to licensing”
“Going beyond the platform”

The client currently has several lines of software products including an Operating System. They have been shipping products that range from a full fledged server operating system to business applications such as CRM and Accounts. Below is the quick summary of products and offerings from Client:

  • Linux Server, which includes productivity and collaboration tools out of the box.

  • Linux Desktop which include productivity tools like office suites, multimedia tools, again out of the box.

  • CRM, a contact relationship management application.

  • Accounts, a business accounting application.

Business situation

The major goals of the client as an IT organization are to deliver subscription free applications to its customers and secondly, to remove any kind of platform boundaries, so that the customers may choose their choice of platform to work on.

As a result their requirement is of a comprehensive CRM application that can run on any Operating System, especially targeting an OS that is free from licensing hassles.. These situations may be summed up follows:

  • Low cost solution.

  • Solution should work on all major platforms out of the box including Windows, Linux & Solaris.

Technical situation

The CRM application requested by the client posed some really interesting challenges for our software designers. The major challenge was how to design an application that could run in any operating platform. The first thought was to create a web based application but that cannot be shipped and managed as easily as a desktop application. A CRM application requires extensive functionality from the native computer environment such as use of ports, printers, internet access etc. Write an application that should run in Windows, Linux, Mac and still be able to perform all required functions flawlessly was quite a challenge. Other major challenges were as follows:

  • The technical aspects such as file system, shortcut keys, user interface looks etc. are quite varied across different operating systems.

  • User Interface should not vary much across different platforms in order to create a brand value.

  • Cross Platform desktop application means a cross platform database which again was a big challenge for us.

  • File operations should work across different platforms.

  • One of the key requirements of a CRM applications is integration with the productivity applications such as Office suites, E-Mail clients etc. This was again a big challenge as each OS carries it’s own set of productivity tools.

These are just a few of the key major technical issues which our design teams had to tackle with great efficiency and in a cost effective manner.

Solution

Having a look at the technical challenges, our designers proposed the following solution to Client:

  • Development and runtime platform was proposed to be Java in order to avoid any kind of platform variances. Java in itself is a full fledged operating platform which provides application a sandbox above native operating system, in order to allow them to execute in a platform independent manner.

  • User Interface was proposed to be built in Java Swings using one of the available Plastic Look and Feel, in order to overcome any kind of user interface differences across the platforms.

    Database employed for this application was selected as HSQLDB. Being a cross platform database, it has an ability to operate in both server as well as embedded mode. Also being open source and free, it was best choice to use at the back end.

  • As far as productivity tools are concerned, we proposed a solution of choice to be OpenOffice.org. Again OpenOffice.org is an open source project and has its own Java wrappers in order to make it programmable. It is also available for major operating systems including Windows, Linux and Mac. We proposed a tight integration with OpenOffice.org suite in order to follow “Going beyond the platform” objective.

  • As far as e-mail is concerned we could have easily integrate the CRM application with Outlook but that would result in Windows based solution. Therefore we opted out on creating our own E-Mail engine in order to provide more value to the system.

  • We also proposed on creating add ons for the applications on later date in case a customization is required where integration with native productivity tools is require

Benefits

The solutions proposed by our designers and thinkers and the implementation of these solutions by our developers completed the project successfully. Following are the positives of these development efforts:

  • Platform/Database Independent Solution

  • On time delivery of the solution.

  • Objectives were met successfully.

  • Future plans to start with Web Based and PDA version of the CRM application.

Third Party Tools and Software

We used the following software and tools to develop the software in order to meet all the requirements of the project:

  • Development IDE: Net beans

  • Development platform: Java

  • Database Layer: Hibernate

  • Back end: HSQLDB

  • GUI: Swings component suites

  • Other utilities and libraries:

    • OpenOffice.org developer API were used to create Client OpenOffice.org bridge.

    • Calendar API were used to create the Calendar module of the application.

    • Mail API were used to create E-Mail module

    • Jasper Reports was used to create reporting engine of the application.

 

 

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