The Re-development of a Problem System

Ince, Darrel (2010). The Re-development of a Problem System. Technical Report 2010/04; Department of Computing, The Open University.



The Integrated Children's System is a set of computer programs that are used to chronicle the interaction between British social workers and children in need. It has been the subject of many criticisms from social workers , a major trade union and social work academics. This article details a redevelopment of the system that removes the problems with the system and demonstrates the advantages that can be gained in development by employing readily available open-source software. The redevelopment ignored the implementation directive in the specification for a record-based system. The advantages are twofold: first it removes the major problems with the system and, second, does it for a fraction of the £80-100m original cost (the article estimates the full cost of the redevelopment to be c £35k). The article is important in that it details a major reuse effort which resulted in very large savings; describes an approach to software development for human-centred applications that is radically different to the forms, relational database, Java/PHP approach; and is one of the first case studies which shows the dramatic effects of employing open-source software.

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