Geylang East Home for the Aged (GEHA) was selected in May as the partner VWO for 2007. After a thorough requirements gathering process for the needed IT system, the needs of GEHA became clear. It needed an IT system that can help to speed up the process of filling up the Programme Evaluation System (PES) Report, as well as the Client Profile Report. These forms have to be submitted to the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) every quarter.
The PES Report consists of over 50 questions to be filled up. The information required to answer some of the questions are not easy to gather. The questions themselves vary widely assessing all aspects of the VWO, from the number of information referral cases handled to the number of volunteer training sessions conducted to the number of mutual help activity sessions organized. Reproduced below are just 3 examples.
- No. 15 : Registered non-elderly residents brought forward from last quarter (Outside service boundary, same estate)
- No. 31 : Number of frail and/or homebound elderly being visited at least once per week
- No. 50 : Percentage of non-elderly residents who volunteered in at least one ad-hoc/on-going activity for the quarter
Having 1929 members, it is not easy for GEHA to keep track of all the information needed for the PES report. They do so mainly by a number of MS Excel files, limited in its data processing capabilities. The PES report acts as an output and outcome indicator and affects the amount of funding the VWO can subsequently receive. The accuracy of the report is thus of great importance. Even then, there have been occasions where the figures submitted in the PES report do not tally, and NCSS has requested GEHA to check and resubmit the form. Painstaking rechecks cause a strain on the manpower and reduce their productivity.
In a nutshell, the IT system requested for had to solve all these problems. For this a number of essential modules were identified (client, staff, volunteer, attendance, facilities, activities, home visits, mutual help groups, referrals, organizations, news & reports). 5 students were selected to develop this system. Within 3 months the system had to be deployed at GEHA.
During the 3 months, more site visits were conducted to GEHA as well as 4 other VWOs (Care Link, Joy Centre, Moral Neighborhood Link, Evergreen Circle ) which had similar needs. The daily procedure and workflow at the various centers was understood. A detailed project specifications report was formed, specifying the needed functionalities and the corresponding system design. A suitable web content management system was selected and knowledge of its usage and workings shared among the team members. Computing technologies like PHP and SQL were learnt in preparation for the coding phase. Research was done on barcode scanning technologies as well as touchscreen monitors, and appropriate models were purchased. The system was developed, tested, and on the 3 rd of August, it was successfully deployed at GEHA.
In terms of data management, it is now much more convenient for GEHA to collate, store, retrieve and analyze the data. Sophisticated queries and advanced search previously not possible can now be performed easily. As a result, the VWO is able to present the necessary statistics to potential donors to secure funding.
Also, the system has reduced the time taken by the staff to fill up the PES report and the Client Profile report from at least 5 hours to mere minutes. Staff can now be sure that the figures are accurate, which means the submitted PES report need not be rejected unnecessarily.
About 4300 elderly people from 5 organizations will benefit from this system. Instead of writing down their daily attendance and facility usage manually, they can now use the barcode scanner for the attendance and the touchscreen monitor for recording the facility usage. Staff can also more easily register clients for activities and take attendance for clients attending those activities using the touchscreen monitor.
Interestingly, the team comprises of an international body of students, from China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. The multi talented team comprises:
- J. Srieedar, 3rd year student (Project Leader, Database in charge)
- Anh Cuong, 1st year student (Server Administrator, Developer)
- Lim Yuen Hoe, 1st year student (Template Designer, Developer)
- Zhong Yi, 1st year student (Interface Designer)
- Tran Khoi Nguyen (Data Migration in charge)
The short span of time within which new languages, platforms and computing frameworks had to be learnt proved to be a challenge. We had to pick up new skills and share knowledge with each other.
We cannot deliver a system based on assumptions. We need to know very precisely what the problem is, and have sufficient foresight to think about whether our system design can actually solve the problem or not.
A very meaningful and rewarding way to spend your summer holidays, both academically and professionally.
– Anh Cuong
Its funny to learn that coding is the easy part. Blundering about figuring out on your own WHAT precisely to develop, well, thats hard stuff. Hopefully after this initial stage well all become better (a lot better) at this…
– Lim Yuen Hoe
Its a big difference from normal academic module projects. There is a lot more planning to be done for a real life project before we actually begin coding.”
– Zhong Yi
It is okay if we dont have the skills. But we must have the right attitude. Because, with the right attitude, the skills can be learnt.
– Tran Khoi Nguyen