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The Arches Project – Furniture Management System

Trent Vineyard / The Arches Project

The Arches Project is a practical resource and support centre for those in need across the city of Nottingham.

The aim of project is to provide an environment of compassion and care, where people feel that they belong and are accepted; where they can build a sense of self-worth and confidence.

Trent Vineyard began in the summer of 1996 when we moved to start a new church in Nottingham. It has now grown into a large and vibrant church that is committed to serving the city.

Before coming to Nottingham, they helped start SW London Vineyard, the first Vineyard in the UK under the leadership of John and Eleanor Mumford.

  

The reasons the new system was required

The content below has been  taken directly from the clients  tender document:

Outline Requirement

The Arches is seeking to implement a new database system to address growing shortcomings in our current furniture allocation systems.  The current system is a purpose designed website where clients can choose furniture. The current system does not provide staff and volunteers with one central source of information required on an a purely operational level.On a purely practical level with the number of furniture items being collected and delivered and the capacity to take photographs and upload them to the purpose designed website takes a large amount of volunteer time and can be a bottleneck with furniture not being available to choose, yet sitting in the warehouse. The current system  is not big enough to cope with the volume of furniture that we are now giving away.

Audience and Purpose

  • The new database should present as few technological barriers to users as possible
  • The new database should be easy to use for users with limited database experience
  • The new database should  provide an easy-to-use interface and should provide simple to use reporting capability 
  • Users of the new database must be able to access the information they desire with minimal navigation.

 

Our Approach

Working closely with project staff we were able to gain an in-depth understanding of their internal systems and processes which allowed us to deliver a system that will hopefully revolutionise the way that project volunteers operate.

Prior to any actual software being  written, all screens were wire-framed and prototyped to allow users to see exactly how the new system would look. This was an iterative 2-way process, we wanted to be absolutely certain that we’d completely understood our clients requirements before getting the developers involved.

The new systems were in-effect designed by their users before a single line of code was written.

The resultant systems allow:

  • Administrators (using a bespoke android tablet application) to photograph new  furniture items, categorise them and then upload them to the centrally administered database over a local wi-fi connection
  • Project Workers  to capture client data, allocate furniture to them and then select a suitable date in the future to either self-collect or have the furniture delivered
  • Administrators  to co-ordinate future deliveries
  • Warehouse  operative to create pick lists

Project Type: Bespoke Android Application, Bespoke Web Application

Service Provided: Systems Analysis, Consultancy, Design, Software & Database Build

Key Technologies: ASP.NET, SQL Server 2008, C#, JQuery, Android Tablet Development

 

The Results

The new systems were successfully launched in Sep 2013.

The client has said the following in relation to their new system…"the difference is in many ways difficult to quantify, and in some ways easy - for example the process for items being photographed to being available to clients was previously approximately 2 days involving 2 teams and hand written sheets of paper, it is now almost instantaneous, our record for an item to be photographed by the team, chosen and collected by the client is 15 minutes! The reduction in timescale has massively increased the turn around time on items. This means stock we have in the building is available not in process and we can take in more and larger donations as there is more usable space. Errors from double allocations have been eradicated, whereas previously items were allocated to two clients at once, the new database does not allow this. Telephone numbers which are vital to communication when delivering are mandatory and must be the correct number of digits. As a volunteer led charity only operating 3 days a week, the whole process from beginning to end, initial spec, planning, wire frames, testing and implementation has been handled professionally and with great consideration to us. We could have asked for no more, many of the would like to haves were also possible due to the rigorous initial planning and consultation"

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