Thoughtful Analysis + Practical Innovation
Our job isn’t just about writing code. It’s about building trust and solving problems. That’s why, long before any coding happens, we immerse ourselves completely in your industry, your processes, and the story behind your data. We want to see everything you see – and all the stuff you don’t see, too.
Our project development process involves total transparency, continuous collaboration, and a laser focus on supporting what drives your business.
1. Free Initial Consultation
Every job we do begins with this step. You describe your objectives, your budget, and your timeline, and we evaluate whether J Street can provide a solution that fits all three. This step also offers all of us a prime opportunity to decide whether we’d make a good team.
Sometimes when projects are very large or complex, an initial consultation can’t produce the clarity we need to develop a reasonably accurate picture of your project’s scope and cost. In that case, we may suggest that you hire us for step two, a detailed Architectural Framework phase.
2. Architectural Framework
This discovery step is where we steep ourselves in your business. First we meet with key staff to learn all about your existing systems. Then we meet with the people who will use the new system to ensure that we fully understand the needs driving their requirements. Throughout this process, we maintain a detailed Q & A archive to ensure that we’re communicating effectively with you and vice versa.
Next, we build three main deliverable documents:
The Project Plan is a statement of work that describes all the features your application will have. This document defines the overall scope and size of the project. We refer to it throughout the process to ensure that the project scope remains understood and controlled.
The Screen Flow is a diagram that shows all the screens or web pages that your new application will contain, and the navigation paths between them. Each screen has an approximate effort level to help us build estimates. We divide the screens into modules of work, more or fewer depending on the size of the project.
The initial Database Design is the design of the tables your new system will have, with the relationships between them and many of the important fields specified. And it isn’t just a drawing – we implement it in SQL Server and deliver it to you.
Now comes the challenging part – estimating your project. We use the Screen Flow and an estimating tool that we built to update the Project Plan with cost and schedule estimates for your project, including all the main activities and modules. At this point we aren’t actually designing individual pages and screens – we’re just estimating what we think they will cost based on our experience. We review this estimate with you, and we can help you lower costs by deferring optional features to a later phase.
Once you give us approval to proceed with development, we start diving into the details. We add more detail to the database structure, draw sketches (sometimes called “wireframe prototypes”), and build functional specifications. We review the sketches with you to make sure we’ve got them right before you greenlight them. Reviewing sketches is a critical part of saving you money – it’s much easier to change a sketch than to modify a developed system!
We also work on defining your business rules – the validity checks, error messages, formulas and automatic processes that give your system its “smarts”. We define security permissions for different types of users. Throughout this work we keep your Q&A document up to date.
As we go along, we refine the estimates. If we discover more complexity in the project and the estimates trend upward, we let you know what’s going on so that you can choose to simplify or postpone features of your system if you like.
Once you’ve greenlighted the sketches and estimates, we start development! This means we construct the screens, pages and reports, along with the programming to make them all work together. We also test each component to make sure it’s working properly, both by itself and together with other pieces.
During this process, we’ll continue to ask you questions as they come up, and we’ll also demonstrate completed modules of your system so that you can see how it’s going.
When the last modules are completed and reviewed, and all major issues resolved, we’ll set up a User Acceptance Testing (UAT) environment for you to try out the entire system before it goes into production.
6. Go Live!
This is it! The day that you start actually using your system for real work is called Go Live day. We’ll schedule the best time to install everything, do one last conversion of your existing data, and get you running on your new system. You may choose to switch over exclusively, or run your old and new systems in parallel for a little while. We’ll also deliver all the source code, database diagrams, etc. so that you have everything you need.
7. Support & Enhancements
Custom database applications are often very complex, and there are sometimes support and enhancement tasks that still need to be done after you go live. And as more of your employees use your system, it’s normal for issues, questions and enhancement requests to come up. We’re available to answer questions, resolve issues and make system modifications as needed.
You may have set aside some features for future phases. If you decide to move forward with those, then we’ll work on those using this same process – starting with Step 2 above!