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Porting of NABYUKTI – a Microfinance MIS software from VB6 to VB.net

About Customer

The customer covered in this case study is India’s second largest Non-Government Organization having it’s operations pan India and in Indonesia, East Africa & Srilanka.
Business Situation

Our customer wanted to increase the geographical area of operations and add features to the existing Microfinance Management Information System software which internally was referred to as NABYUKTI. One of the features that came up usage of hybrid model – distributed data entry and web based access for reports. The existing software was operational since 1998, and in 2010 the above business requirements came up.
Challenges

1. The existing software was developed in VB6. Though the client was having it’s IT department in Bangalore, India, it was difficult to find VB6 programmers compared to .Net programmers.
2. The unit cost of development & support for VB6 had just become more expensive compared to Vb.Net.

3. The existing VB6 software was built specifically for the client organization’s use. In the new scenario their partners would also using this software for data capture and analysis. There were licensing issues with respect to databased (MS Access 2003 was being used as the desktop database and crystal reports was the reporting tool).
4. There would be no control over the desktop configuration & maintenance in the partner locations. At partner’s place without the availability of prescribed desktops it was becoming difficult with the ‘dll hell’ issues and performance issues (especially the loan outstanding with interest overdue reports which were time sensitive reports).
5. Not all places of data entry had internet access, and many places still had dial-up connections.
With the above challenges in hand, the customer engaged us to study the situation and suggest a software solution.
Our Solution

After studying both the business challenges and the technical situation, we suggested to migrate from VB6 to VB.net windows forms application.
The existing solution had the following layers:

Based on the existing technology the new distributed and web based feature and the ground realities of the internet connection we suggested the following architecture to the client and was accepted:

The individual location would have VB.Net windows forms with MS SQL Express database. The server has SQL Server. Wherever there was internet connection the data exchange would happen using MS Sync server. For non – internet based connection a back up facility was provided on the desktop software which would create data backup and this could be sent on CD. The server had the facility to read the data from the CD and merge with the main database.
The partners of the client would access the data from the server using Asp.net pages and report viewer.
The new technology layer has the following:

By going ahead with the above approach we could solve the business & technical issues of the customer.
Benefits

Over a period of three months after deployment, the customer experienced the following benefits:
1. Central report access & usage has gone up by 100%
2. Support calls reduced by almost 30% with respect to installation and data backup related issues.
3. Per unit cost of feature addition has reduced compared to the spend in 2010.
4. This project was considered for Prime Minister’s Rural Innovation enabler prize in 2010.

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