Software AG ApplinXREVIEWER: Tom Trimble, director of MIS for Tulsa County, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
BACKGROUND: Tulsa County's MIS department provides centralized computer and telecommunications support for all of Tulsa County, which includes the offices of nine elected officials, all Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) divisions, several state agencies, the county jail and more than 2,400 daily users.
PLATFORMS: VSE/ESA (mainframe OS); Windows Client Server Environment (Windows 2000).
PROBLEM SOLVED: By choosing to enhance our existing mainframe application and build a front-end, Web-enabled interface that also merged a client/server document imaging application, we significantly increased the opportunity for users to access our systems at any time and any place Internet access is available.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Using Software AG ApplinX, the final product provides a much more usable solution for our users and seamlessly combines data and screens from both mainframe and client/server environments into one, easy-to-use, Internet accessible application directly from our Tulsa County Web site. The document imaging system currently provides images of all legal documents filed on all properties in Tulsa County back to 1932. Before this system, people would have to go to the courthouse and search large books and microfilm for copies of deeds, lien information, etc. Document imaging improved that process, but tying that data directly to the current property records and providing the added convenience of viewing or printing this information anywhere in the world - and at any time - has generated a lot of positive feedback. The project was completed within weeks instead of months, and driving downtown to the courthouse during normal business hours is no longer a concern.
STRENGTHS: Software AG provided a solution that enabled us to modernize the look and feel of the mainframe data without needing to replace the whole system. We estimate that we saved more than $300,000 over full replacement and migration to a new system - and with a significantly shorter timeline to move the enhancements into production. The ApplinX interface is rather intuitive, and our small project team quickly made progress. Total project time, including testing, was six weeks for the initial front-end development.
WEAKNESSES: Because it is a relatively new product, there are some questions about how it can be used. Documentation and literature were somewhat limited. Security and encryption or usage and data over the Internet were also a concern, and early discussions did not reveal clarity on whether the product could meet our security requirements. However, with the vendor's proof of concept process, we learned that documentation, training and security were all provided at a more than acceptable level.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We went through a lengthy selection process. We looked at complete replacement options as well as hybrid options including products by IBM and Attachmate. New development or migration to a canned application exceeded our budget and timeline for this effort. ApplinX had the most attractive features/cost combination based on our project requirements. It was very easy to use and implement.
DELIVERABLES: ApplinX provides the ability to merge multiple applications that reside in various platforms into what is perceived by the user as one Internet-based system.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The learning curve was very small. Software AG came in early and quickly got us started on the right foot. The best part of working with Software AG was that they have focused on building a long-term business partnership instead of only a sale. Ongoing follow-up by the vendor has remained strong and they have always expressed a vested interest in insuring that we meet and exceed all of our expectations.
DOCUMENTATION: Documentation when we purchased the product was somewhat limited. It is our understanding that since that time a new user manual has been developed that would explain the many features of the product. The application turned out to be very intuitive and we found we could run the product easily with very little prior exposure to the program.
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