What we delivered
As this was one of our earlier projects and Leicestershire County Council had other applications built in WinForms, we settled on using WinForms as the GUI. This made it easier for staff to use the new software, due to familiarity with this interface type. However, the calendar aspect of this application could not be built efficiently in WinForms, so WPF was also added to the project to implement these views.
As Leicestershire County Council was already using Oracle for their databases, it was necessary to work with Oracle to store the data generated by RAS. In 2019, the County Council’s IT department decided to move their databases to the cloud and we further developed a web API which could interact with the now cloud-based Oracle database, and this went live in 2020.
The council’s resources are divided into three broad categories, namely labour, plant and vehicles. Many are owned by the County Council, but they also have the authority to hire resources on a short- or long-term basis. The new system was developed to filter the different resources types and distinguish between owned and hired resources.
The calendar is the hub of the application, giving a visual timespan of jobs and their attached resources. Hovering over resource and job elements produces pop-ups that provide relevant details, and by right-clicking on the elements, opens a window where users can instantly update the information. Displaying various time-periods such as daily, weekly, monthly, annually, etc, gives staff the control they need to view the data in their chosen timeframe.
RAS has two main user groups – office staff who are responsible for administering, monitoring, and reporting on resource usage – and supervisors who are responsible for allocating resources to jobs. On logging into the system, users are only presented with data they have permission to see with certain aspects and actions being withheld from some user roles, such as reports that are only visible to office users. On daily entry to RAS, users are presented with an alert view that will inform them of any anomalies, such as a vehicle that is undergoing repairs, or an operative who is attending a training course.
The RAS System allows supervisors to track their own resources and those belonging to other supervisors. This allows them to temporarily use each other’s resources when they have none, should another supervisor have some to spare. Using the calendar view, supervisors can see their jobs laid out with all the attached resources below each one.
The drag-and-drop nature of the calendar also makes it easy to move resources between jobs by clicking on the date heading, allowing a job to be added instantly for that date. The resource list on the left allows supervisors where to select and drag a resource directly into a job.
Office staff also have access to the calendar but have additional views which enables them to monitor resources, run reports and check on each supervisor’s usage. Various reports are available and these can be displayed on-screen or exported in Excel format.
Staff can set global settings and add new users, but their main role is to manage the availability of resources. For this reason we created views that provide the means for office staff to add resources, delete them, take them on and off hire and make them unavailable for supervisors to use if needed.
As resource unavailability could for various reasons be dependant upon type, views were customised to manage sickness, annual leave and training for operatives. Other views were created for the management of plant and vehicles, allowing users to indicate such things as plant being scheduled for maintenance or a vehicle awaiting repairs.
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