Case Study

Helping a Large County streamline its APEX applications

This county is located in a large metropolitan area in the United States and meets the needs of 1.3 million residents by employing over 15,000 workers. The county’s IT group serves over 45 departments. It has long recognized the value Oracle APEX brings to its organization and has been developing applications with APEX for several years.  Its IT team includes 10 full-time APEX developers and together they have built over 100 APEX applications. The county is therefore a mature user of Oracle APEX.

Challenge

The county IT department needed to deliver several APEX application development projects of varied scope. At the same time, it wished to streamline the evolution of its existing applications.

Its APEX development group was self-taught and untrained in some of the Oracle best practices required for these new projects. They needed help from an experienced APEX consulting firm with a proven track record in APEX development. The selected partner would need to coach them, help complete the projects, establish best practices, and ensure future applications’ quality and performance.

The county chose Insum for the job.

Solution

Insum collaborated closely with the county in the upgrade, maintenance, and enhancement of their existing applications through:

  • Debugging, testing, troubleshooting, diagnosis, issue resolution, and support
  • Software upgrades, performance tuning, utilities and management software, maintenance, documentation, and reporting
  • Implementation of data models/database designs/ data updates

Insum also guided the county in the creation of new applications. This included:

  • Needs analysis, requirements definition, design, development, enhancement
  • Integration and change management of data from various sources with the APEX applications
  • Data/commercial off the shelf (COTS) integration
  • Software/data conversion and migration
  • Project management, training, script creation, job scheduling, interfacing.

Approach

Each county department has its unique combination of application complexity and developer skill levels. Applications are usually assigned to a dedicated developer who creates and maintains them.

As part of this application development project, Insum needed to uplift the county’s development team skills and knowledge to meet user needs more efficiently and thoroughly.

Through one-on-one coaching and group work sessions, Insum instilled best practices on essential skills including:

  • How to ask business process questions
  • Coding and formatting
  • Structuring repositories for the code
  • Building data models
  • Refining development practices

Insum developed a shared knowledge base of best practices to improve productivity. It includes Insum-prepared guide documents on:

  • Migration from early versions of APEX to 20.2
  • How to implement the universal theme and create universal components
  • Debugging APEX
  • And more

Technology used

The technology involved in the project was almost exclusively Oracle APEX. It also spanned a large portion of the application development platform’s history. APEX versions ranged from 4.2 to the recent version 20. A significant part of the work involved moving early versions of applications to APEX 5.1, then migrating these to version 20.2. APEX’s excellent backward compatibility kept these migrations virtually problem-free.

Results

Insum provided the county with everything necessary to complete the described projects and come away with a solid base for internally generated quality APEX development and maintenance. County developers have improved their skills, collaboration, and productivity.

The code repository within the shared knowledge base has dramatically helped developer organization and made the implementation manager’s life much easier.

Daily morning scrums have enhanced communication between developers, as well as between developers and management.

Since the beginning of Insum’s work with the county, some 80 applications have gone into production. Insum supplies ongoing architecture and infrastructure advice throughout this continuing contract.

“Insum’s help in our adoption of best practices was crucial to our successful implementation of several new applications.”

-The county’s Director of IT Services

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