I am glad to write my first article on our beloved company website. For the last week I have been thinking about the topic to start with and didn't find a better start than to talk to you about our fantastic piece of software SIMS. I hope you find the article both beneficial and entertaining.
Let me give you a glimpse of what we think in open scope of SIMS. We don't think of it as only a piece of software that can help manage schools and get together students, faculty and staff. Rather, we think of SIMS as an inspiration for better education, better management and an effective medium of communication for all parties involved in education. We tend to think of SIMS as our baby in open scope, since its first steps 3 years ago; SIMS was a trial for an effective way to manage schools. Here in Egypt our homeland we face a lot of difficulties when talking software, it feels like a nightmare for staff who are usually used to work with lots and lots of papers. They tend to avoid software and think of it as a creepy thing that takes a lot of time to learn. This was our first challenge to create awareness among those school people and destroy the barrier that they have created towards software. It was a hefty challenge that started with trying to analyze and know from where their fear comes. We had our first opportunity with a popular school in Egypt where we could step up our first steps in this challenge to come. After a couple of interviews with the school staff we began to realize that fear from software is a mix between seeing software as a very difficult tool and also their concern regarding the possibility that software can end up replacing them. Also the fact that some of the staff are old and not really familiar with using PCs added to the challenge.
SIMS early sketches
Realizing all the above challenges and with our enthusiasm to go through this experience and to be able to provide a software that can help those people, save their time and manage their process efficiently we began our journey with SIMS. Going through analyzing every day to day jobs that a school staff can go through, analyzing the different roles within the school from admission people to financial people, students affairs, etc… After we gathered lots and lots of paper of handwritten requirements, processes and even comments, phrases, we documented each and every word that was said by any of the people whom we used to analyze how the school works. Packing up our bags with all those papers we went back to our kitchen (work place) where we had our meeting table covered with all those papers. The real work began putting all the bits and pieces together trying to find relationships between the different pieces, put the different roles together. In days our white board was full of bubbles, relationships between bubbles and a lot of words that describe what we came out with from our first phase. We were standing their looking at the board with pride, after all those hours of work we could finally realize almost the whole picture of our baby yet to be born.
The next week was another challenge we had to write all what we got from the client in a well read format including UML diagrams to decrease the gap between our understanding of the system and the school staff requirements. Also an important issue was to verify the different processes within the system and how can this be achieved in a better way than discussing the results back with its own owners. So we did our part tried to put each and every detail in the requirements document, produced a dozen of UML diagrams including components diagrams, use cases and sequence diagrams. We also wrote down scenarios for each of the system users in the form of stories to be easily readable by the staff. Time was running as we were really keen on getting in touch with the school staff in the soonest time in order to have the ideas and requirements verified as they are still in their minds. We called them and decided to have a second meeting with the school staff to verify the requirements and talk further into the functionalities of the system. The day of the meeting came; we prepared our documents, had our laptop to demonstrate the different diagrams and were set to go. We reached the school in time and were set to go with our plan when the weirdest thing happened. …….. To be continued in the next article.
What do you think happened???
Ehab El Sisi
Open Scope Team