SharePoint Integration Allows Group to Stick to Dominating Online
Group Publishing (Group), a Christian publishing company, creates and distributes various materials for Bible studies, small groups, and other religious programs. Their business is largely driven by demand from a seasonal business segment, Vacation Bible Schools (VBS), which typically run during the summer, around which various media and products are designed.
Group uses a web-based organizational tool called VBS P.R.O. (Promote, Register, Organize), to create a platform to market Group’s products. Serving a larger audience than any competitor, Group has come to be relied upon by their customers for creating a foundation on which churches can organize and launch their own events using Group’s programs.
When Long View began providing support to Group’s VBS P.R.O. application, it was running on a SharePoint 2007 platform leveraging a .NET 2.0 framework. The original authors of the application were long gone and Group had experienced a high rate of consultant turn over in support of their application over the years. Upon inheriting the application, Long View discovered there was a lack of documentation as well as poor software architecture which was counter to intended functionality.
Group’s goal is to provide features that will encourage churches to continue to use Group’s VBS P.R.O. programs year over year. However, the budget for feature enhancements and stabilization is limited.
When Group’s SharePoint licensing came up for renewal, Group looked into its options considering efficiency and cost.
Approach and Solution
During Long View’s tenure with Group, Long View helped Group upgrade their application to SharePoint 2013 and a .NET 4.5 framework. Group’s experience and confidence in Long View’s ability to ensure quality of deliverables and support their business critical application was a key factor in deciding to remain with SharePoint.
Long View recommended upgrading to SharePoint 2013 due to it working well across multiple browsers as well as mobile platforms. SharePoint, as a platform, also provides several features that would be utilized by Group (site provisioning, document libraries, web parts, easy access to images and styling files, etc).
Long View began the project effort by collaborating with the business unit leadership to review and prioritize the product backlog and feedback from Group’s product support team. This activity percolated up items of key importance to Group’s project management teams who, through consultations with Long View, designed strategies for improving user experience and creating additional application features.
The application itself utilizes a myriad of technologies including the latest ASP .NET, SharePoint 2013, jQuery, SQL, SSIS, SSRS, and more. Technical expertise provided by Long View is relied on for everything from fine tuning existing features to turning new and defining ideas into reality. Evidence of the value we deliver can be seen by the confidence Group has that, year in and year out, their dominating online presence will only be bolstered by the application design and development Long View provides.
Business Results & Benefits
The enhancement project was delivered ahead of schedule and under budget through diligent project management, in accordance with the PMI PMBOK and a strong governance model with structured change control, UAT, release management and scope oversight.
The 2015 season project created:
- a 50% increase in the number of unique programs provided
- updated various back-end technologies such as .NET
- created an optimal hardware and software architecture
- UI and UX improvements
This was also the first season in which pro-active load testing on the application was performed as part of the QA process, utilizing a tool called NeoLoad. The Long View development team delivered high quality features on time to Group Publishing’s QA team, who are now anticipating a successful season founded on a dependable and feature enriched application.
Long View has helped Group realize business goals by providing application design guidance and consistently delivering a quality product that provides the business with demonstrable value.
Group Publishing chose Long View for several key reasons:
- Long View’s engagement of Group’s design teams through development, design and strategizing
- Agile development methodology, full transparency through workflow visualization tools, and progress across all facets of project evolution and development were completely transparent to the client
- Commitment to ITIL best practices
- Long View’s governance model, open dialog and skilled SharePoint and software development teams
Group continues to rely on the same core principles that initially attracted them to Long View throughout our partnership. Integrity, competence, and value have been definitive of Long View’s relationship with Group.
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