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Allotment of valuable vouchers for buying computers

The Ministry of information society and administration, 11/2008 The Ministry of information society and administration is the basic authorized institution for coordination of the activities for developing information society

Challenges

The Ministry of information society and administration developed a program “Allotment of valuable vouchers for buying computers”, which provided support for buying lap top or desktop computers for the students in their last year of studies. The program was carried out two years in a row.

The workflow was defined as the following: the students would receive the printed voucher and the required information regarding the student and his/her voucher are inserted through the web application into the database by the faculty’s staff. Afterwards the computer reseller company had to input the same information in order to confirm the student’s identity and the serial number of the allotted voucher (to prevent any printed falsificate voucher). If any irregularities were found, the student had to be disallowed from using the voucher.

Secure the data transfer through a public network and in the database
The data had to be secured when being transferred through internet to be written into the database, as well as while kept in the database.

Prevent any possibility of abuse
Since the vouchers presented amount of money that the students used as discount while buying a lap top or desktop computer and the Ministry of information society and administration compensated it to all the computer reseller companies the possibility of abuse had to be completely eliminated.

Enable fast and user friendly input and matching process
The input of the data had to be done through very user friendly interfaces, as a result of the different profiles and computer skills levels of users that the application would have.

Solution

A web application was developed that had three user types with access only to the specific set of functionalities. The faculty staff users would only be allowed to input data, with validation checks whether the voucher serial number is valid and is in the set that corresponds to the specific faculty and hasn’t been already allotted and the student specified hasn’t already received voucher. The computer reseller company staff would also only have the option to input the student and voucher information and the data would be compared against all data inputted by the faculty staff when allotting the voucher. Here, the same validation checks are performed, prior to comparing the data to the database data. The third user type would be the Ministry of information society and administration’s administrators, who were notified regarding all possible abuses and take corresponding actions and were presented with different types of statistic reports that show the project successfulness in real-time.

Implementation

The web application was developed using .NET 3.5 and the database was MSSQL 2005. The data security was accomplished by using SSL certificate bought from Thawte for the data transfer and the data was stored in the database with suitable encryption. Prior to the development process, a planning phase was conducted during which the functionalities were detailed by a work group consisting of 4Ward’s information architect and the Ministry of information society and administration’s staff. After the development of the application several types of security testing were performed to confirm it.

Results

The result that this project has accomplished is that the process of allotment of vouchers to students has passed with no irregularities and the application has fulfilled its goal: to endorse and support the program.

Lessons learned

The user interfaces had to be planned with the note that the users using the application were with different background and various computer skills, which implied that the application must have very simple and user friendly interfaces.