The Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA has completed the implementation of a new management and administration system based on the Catalyst Business Systems Engine from ViaData.
SSISA researchers, fitness specialists, management and its customers all benefit from a more robust, more flexible administration system that provides them with the professional, accurate experience they would expect from a world class institution.
Cape Town-based SSISA is a successful business that has grown rapidly from serving a small group of researchers and professional sportspeople to become a gym and fitness centre for anyone serious about wellness and sport. The rapid growth of the membership demanded a new administration and management system as the old one was getting increasingly creaky and impossible to maintain. It posed not only a business risk from unreliability and possible data loss, but was also affecting client¹s perception of the Institute because of system errors and inconsistencies.
"The original software developers had moved on and it was getting harder for SSISA to have bugs fixed, or to add functionality. No-one could work on the old system because no-one understood the code," explains Brent Walsh, operations manager at SSISA.
The SSISA board of directors instructed its operations team to identify a new, off-the-shelf package. After a long and fruitless search, the technology team reviewed a proposal from ViaData for a fully custom solution.
ViaData¹s proposal was based on its foundation technology: the Catalyst Business Systems Engine (BSE), which allows business analysts, rather than programmers, to take a core role in developing the software needed. The Catalyst BSE allows very rapid application development where much of the processing and business logic is done in SQL and stored in a standard SQL database to ensure it is maintainable and extensible over the long-term.
Craig Byren, ViaData¹s MD, took a copy of the existing SSISA database, applied the Catalyst BSE to it and with his team did some rapid development of a prototype. Within a matter of two days he was able to go back to SSISA and demonstrate core functionality from a working system. Impressed, the Board gave ViaData the green light to do a complete database and data model analysis, and then to develop the new system.
"We were impressed with how ViaData took the time and effort to understand our business and requirements, rather than giving us the typical cut-and-paste proposal," says Walsh.
Development started on 1 April, 2009, with the final phase completed at the end of September, just six months later. The new system was run in parallel with the legacy system for training and additional testing during October, and went live, in a smooth transition, on 2 November 2009.
SSISA's core functional requirements were to effectively manage its members' accounts and the associated contracts, user profiles and training regimens, as well as provide access control to the facilities and the scheduling of consulting sessions. The software also had to support sales activities of new contracts or upgrades, including analytics to allow better management of the business.
"The ViaData Catalyst BSE is a radical change in how custom business software is developed," says ViaData MD, Craig Byren. "The Catalyst Engine provides core interface functionality, security and data management, with data and business logic stored in SQL, allowing a competent developer to maintain or enhance the system, with no 'proprietary code' lock-in.
"Catalyst lets us reduce project times from months or years to just days or weeks. The SSISA implementation clearly shows how a custom software solution, designed using a Business Systems Engine, can deliver the flexibility and power of a custom solution at a lower price than an off-the-shelf package."