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Past Project in Detail

Multinail - Develop a 'Change Management System' and 'Standard User Interface'



Develop a ‘Change Management System’ and ‘Standard User Interface’ – Multinail (Master of IT students)

Multinail is an Australian company, which provides services to the manufacturers of pre-fabricated structural timber components (for the residential and commercial construction industry). The company supplies software, machinery, engineering support and metal products, which enable fabricators to accurately and efficiently manufacture timber roof trusses, wall frames and floor trusses for building contractors.

Keith Tranter and his software development team at Multinail are in the process of upgrading their software range, to a ‘Next Generation’ suite, which will give provide more functionality to their clients. As part of this large project, Keith identified two discrete modules that were ideal for student projects. Ruchika Chadha and (Laurie) Lai Veng Ha were appointed to these projects in July 2004, and completed them late November 2004.

Ruchika’s project was to convert Multinail’s paper-based work allocation system (for processing software action/change requests), to an automated ‘Change Management System’. Every department at Multinail has a range of policies and procedures that define and set out guidelines for every day work tasks and processes. These procedures have a range of forms and recording systems, to ensure that all work is conducted properly, controlled and recorded for later reference and checking.

The aim of Ruchika’s web-based Change Management System was to: raise software change requests, validate and prioritise them, assign a manager/project leader to work on the task, assign the change requests to a major software release date, track status of the change requests, and provide administration functions (login/logout, security, add/edit users, etc). An additional objective of this project was to develop a report generator based on the software releases - to assist managers with future resource management. At the start of her project, Ruchika mapped and analysed the internal processes in the current system (‘as is’) and met with various managers to determine and review how the automated process flow should work. Some of the technology/languages used by Ruchika were HTML, IIS & OS web server, VB.Net, ASP.Net and SQL. Ruchika delivered a fully operational system, which Keith Tranter, Josh Crane and the Multinail team were very happy with.

According to Keith “it has been a great pleasure to have Ruchika as part of my software development team...the project has been completed on time and to our entire satisfaction. Her tenacious approach to planning and execution have been exemplary”.

Laurie’s project involved the development of a ‘Standard User Interface’ for all of their Multinail software products. When Multinail’s software was originally developed, there were no ‘standards’ or styles determined for menus, icons, title bars and tool bars. Each software program was developed independently. Therefore inconsistencies are now apparent, causing confusion for users, user errors, integration and expansion difficulties, and a reduction of efficiency.

First of all, Laurie documented the inconsistencies between the seven software packages involved in her project. Then she interviewed the various Multinail project leaders, researched external ‘standards’ for icons, menus, etc and developed a proposal for standardisation of Multinail’s user interfaces and icons. This process involved Laurie promoting the merits of standardisation and ultimately persuading the project leaders to adopt a single agreed standard for software development. Along the way, Laurie overcame some resistance to change, as each Project Manager had their “ideas and ways of doing things”.

Laurie developed a detailed ‘Guidelines’ document with directions, instructions and rules for developing menus, icons and user interfaces, showing examples of the standard icons, title bars, tool bars, menu structures, etc. Laurie also developed an ‘Icon Library’, which is accessible to all Multinail’s software developers, with examples of their use in various project contexts.

Keith Tranter commented that the results of Laurie’s project “will continue to play a very important role as we merge and migrate to our new next generation software suite”. He added that Laurie was a “very professional and dedicated student, showing tremendous potential...she is a true credit to the University and a role model for the CEED Program”.

In March 2005, four months after completion, Keith advised that both projects are “are now being used in real live production environments, and have received many notes of thanks and admiration as to the standard and quality of the completed project work - a credit to both Ruchika and Laurie - well done”.

Photo 1 – Back L to R: Keith Tranter & Josh Crane (Multinail), Tony Sahama (QUT), Graham Willett (CEED). Front: Laurie Lai and Ruchika Chadha.

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