To be chosen as Microsoft Partner of the Year, one must be able to present a solution that is better aligned to Microsoft’s category for the award than any of the other entries submitted from around the world, which we successfully did. I’m proud of our work and the solution we were involved in building. I’d like to share a few thoughts on the Award and the project.
The Project: eBorderforce
The eBorderforce Solution
Through the design process, we mocked up an app concept using some prototyping tools from Microsoft Visual Studio and went back to DIBP with a potential way we could see this application working. This was followed by several iterative design changes as we involved more of the key people that would be using the application.
Requirements of the Project
The solution architecture required that we integrate to back end infrastructure such as Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) and other data sources inside the DIBP network. The solution also needed to be designed to be able to manage more than just the Air Cargo workload as future states required Sea Cargo management as well.
Another requirement was the ability to allow staff or officers to communicate across the DIBP organisation while in the field using Skype for Business, for example, when a subject matter expert is required to provide input on a case via video conference. They required a mobile app that would also work when there was no network coverage, meaning the solution needed to have full offline capabilities.
One of the challenges that the agency had faced in the past was that application development had been taking up to two years to build, but in this case, they really needed to see a rapid roll out. The solution needed to be in-production within six months.
Dynamics at Work
We achieved the go-live goal of six months. The tight turnaround was achievable because Dynamics CRM was chosen as the core platform for the mobile app to be built on. Out of the box Dynamics provided the following core building blocks:
- Sophisticated Security Model
- Data Integrity Management
- BI & Reporting
- Integration (API’s, Web Services, SSIS, ESB)
- Microsoft Office Integration
- Enterprise Case Management
- Workflow, Business Rules and Business Process Management
Dynamics CRM proved to be a robust starting point for building the mobile field application which allowed us to focus on the outcomes the customer wanted to achieve. We had full trust that the platform met the underlying requirements — meaning, we didn’t have to build them from scratch. This is a classic example of using a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solution to build a line of business software application.
The application has now been in production for some months. It is deployed around multiple International Airports in Australia. DIBP are realizing around an hour a day per officer time savings, allowing officers to spend more time focusing on protecting the borders of Australia.
We’ve entered this project for the following reasons:
- It allowed us to demonstrate how using Microsoft Software and Hardware can provide tools that allow people to become more efficient in their daily roles.
- It showcased use of the following Microsoft technologies:
• Azure for Dev, Test and UAT
• Dynamics CRM as the core platform
• .net to build a mobile offline enabled enterprise application
• Surface Pro for the field device
• Skype for Business