2006 ADT Innovator Award Application

I. Project Information

Compuware’s Implementation of the State of Ohio’s Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS)

a. Large, lengthy, expensive government software development projects have a history of delivering nothing but catastrophic failures that make industry headlines. In particular, recent years have seen state run child welfare systems end with millions spent on software that doesn’t work. (1997 SACSS Project in California, 2004 EDS contract with UK’s Child Support Agency) However, the State of Ohio’s Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) is different. With a federal mandate to consolidate 88 separate county-based systems into one, the SACWIS project is using modern development techniques and Java to ensure a different fate. By partitioning the large project into 5 loosely coupled subsystems that utilize a Service Oriented Architecture, the SACWIS team is managing complexity. The project seeks to combine the agile nature of small team development with the overall architectural control provided by a model driven approach. Through fast prototyping of functionality and short two week development iterations, business users are able to verify system functionality incrementally.
b. The system was designed to replace paper based and automated systems in 88 counties throughout the state of Ohio. The new system is designed to provide child welfare case workers with secure, readily available access to 120,000 active case files. The business risks revolve around delivering a large, user-acceptable system that has been implemented in many different ways in the past.
a. The new system will benefit case workers by allowing them to track children on a statewide basis, no matter what county or counties provide care. In the past, systems in different counties did not necessarily share information, leading to lost cases and under-served children. Short term benefits include the ability for case workers to have a consolidated view of a child’s case over time and geography. The system will not be deployed until April, 2006, so long term benefits have not been measured. This is, indeed, a mission critical system that contributes to the fate of tens of thousands of children in the state of Ohio.
b. The business purpose of the system is to keep track of children who receive care from the state. This includes children in foster care, adopted children, and abused children.
c. The system features are quite numerous, implementing 165 course grained use cases which resulted in over 700 web pages and 250 online reports. At a high level, features spanned 5 functional areas: Intake, Case, Provider, Financial, and Administration. These features all revolve around managing state assistance for children; from entering a child into the system to tracking how much state money has been spent on them, to which providers manage the relationship. Other features include a broadcast messaging system used to communicate with providers and a training module used to track which providers have received what training.
d. The system implements more than 6,000 functions. The functions are assembled in various ways to accommodate various use cases in an object oriented fashion. The application was architected so that function calls that span multiple functional areas utilize a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).
e. The sponsor for this project at the State of Ohio is the Ohio Department of Jobs & Family Services (ODJFS), the largest state agency in Ohio with more than 4,000 employees. Their purview includes healthcare, employment and economic assistance, and child and family services. Opposition to this project came mostly from those counties within the state that felt they already had a robust, working system in place for their counties. A federal mandate to consolidate all county-based child welfare systems kept these objections in check.
f. State and county subject matter experts (SMEs) were utilized both during the up-front Rapid Requirements Definition (RRD) stage and in Joint Analysis & Design (JAD) session which were a part of each two-week iteration. Especially useful was the combination of SMEs and modelers during the initial requirements gathering phase. High level business models served as inputs to each development iteration, so including SMEs in their definition was crucial.
g. The greatest challenges in completing this project involved size and complexity combined with an aggressive time schedule and diminutive budget. Child welfare systems are notoriously complex and have a history of failure while exceeding their original budgets. Compuware provided a fixed bid quote for the project, to be delivered in 18 months. The real innovation here is how Compuware was able to combine rigorous processes with the tenets of Agile development to drive a team of 45 developers to success in this goal. By instituting the Rational Unified Process (RUP) which combined automated Model Driven Development (MDD) with short, two-week iterations, the project team was able to guide five small functional development teams toward a single goal. Each two-week iteration yielded working software that could be verified by business stakeholders.
h. The overall goals for the project did not change, however some architecturally significant requirements were not defined until well into the development effort. One such requirement was the security scheme and mechanisms for the system. These changes were accommodated with minimal adjustments to the delivery dates. This was possible because of the model-driven approach and generative approach to development. Vast swaths of functionality could be changed by updating architectural models and re-generating code. Compuware’s OptimalJ was critical to the success of this effort and allowed for the introduction of major changes late in the development cycle.

II. Category: Application Engineering

a. Tools and techniques were combined to great effect on this project. Compuware’s OptimalJ was used to transform business models into working code during short two-week iterations. Use of OptimalJ subverted what might otherwise have been lengthy architecture discussions. Because the architecture could be codified within the tool, architects had supreme control over architectural implementation. Also, because many of the transformations that convert business models into technical architecture come with the tool, arguments about how to implement certain functionality simply did not happen. It was easier to go with the out-of-the-box implementations. Automating the implementation of the fundamental architecture enabled the project management techniques. The technique called for a working build of the application at the end of each two-week iteration. This enabled business stakeholders to evaluate the use cases that were implemented during the preceding two weeks.
b. Automated functional testing tools were not used to great effect on this project and their lack of use is noted as a lesson learned from this project. However load testing tools were used to great effect in order to test state requirements that called for certain response times. JUnit and Cactus were also used to great effect by developers for unit testing. From a project management standpoint, testing teams followed their own two-week iteration cycle that tested use-cases that were implemented during the previous two-week cycle. A test-early, test often philosophy was advocated throughout the project.
c. A 30 month formal software development lifecycle was defined for this project which began in May, 2004.
d. The project plan included time and staffing allotments for project planning, rapid requirements definition, 18 two-week development iterations, system testing, user acceptance testing, pilot and statewide rollout. The most interesting innovation from a project management standpoint was the five concurrent teams executing discreet two-week development iteration. Segmenting the application into five functional areas and creating small five to eight person teams to tackle two to three use cases per iteration was the key. Each small team was able to employ agile development techniques while management retained control over system architecture. Because each iteration produced working software that could be validated by the business stakeholders, management always understood how much progress was being made.
e. Software quality metrics were gathered and reported throughout the project. Most metrics graphed statistics over number-of-defects figures. For example, number-of-defects per iteration, number-of-defects per use-case, number-of-defects per functional development team. Defects were also categorized into critical, high, medium, and low to allow for an additional plane of analysis.
a. The major technical challenge encountered on the project involved data migration from disparate, heterogeneous, legacy data systems. An iterative approach to data migration was employed. The following is an oversimplification of the steps, but provides an overview. Notice that the approach transforms the heterogeneous data environments of the legacy systems into a common/canonical form in the first stage. This minimizes the amount of code and data manipulations. It also limits the number of environmental transformations; keeps them as early in the process as possible. This early decoupling reduces the impact to the legacy environments while maximizing the availability and stability of the source data definitions and content needed to support the remainder of the data Migration/conversion approach. It also establishes a well defined baseline for the source data definitions that is vital for requirements and configuration management. The data migration/conversion approach is basically a 5-stage process – from a technical point of view.
  1. Transform the legacy source data into a common (or canonical) representation within the conversion environment. The source data extraction is performed on the source platform using tools that are commonly in use. The extract format is provided in a form that is readily imported to the canonical data environment.
  2. Map the canonical data environment used to stage the source data into the SACWIS Target data definition. This mapping provides the specifications for transforming the source data into the SACWIS application database. Using analytical tools on the Conversion Environment, data and business analysts can identify data integrity and completeness issues that need to be addressed (within the source data, procedurally during conversion, or as post conversion clean up activities).
  3. Construct and Test the software and processes for effecting the transformation from the canonical source data environment into the SACWIS Target data structures. The target area is a ‘replica’ of the production environment. The replica environment and data are also used to identify and define resolutions to data quality issues.
  4. Exercise and validate the transformation. Using the SACWIS application and accessing the converted ‘replica’ of the data environment, the business and technical users can evaluate the validity and completeness of the process.
  5. Convert the Live Data. The proven Data Migration/Conversion processes are utilized to repopulate the ‘replica’ of the production environment with the most current data. The business and technical users then confirm the conversion operation. Once confirmed, utilities are used to move the data into the production environment – ready for operation.

Development Area


Requirements Analysis/management and Business Modeling

Rational Rose, MS-Word

Creation of Design Artifacts. Technical and Business Use Case Realizations.

Rational Rose, MS-Word, SoDA for Word

GUI and Wireframe creation


Software Version Control

CVS 1.11.14

Application Development (Web, EJB tiers)

JDK 1.4.2_04

Application code development

JBuilder 10

Development Application Server

JBoss 3.2.3, Websphere Application Server 5.1

Production Application Server

Websphere Application Server 5.1

Development Database

Oracle 9.2

Production Database

Oracle 9.2

Database Design

ERWin, OptimalJ 3.2

PIM Modeling, MDA Based Application Code Generation

OptimalJ 3.3.02 SP2

Message Oriented Middleware

IBM MQSeries

Unit Testing

JUnit, Struts Unit Testing, Mercury Interactive Testing Suite.

Report Generation



MS-Visio, MS- Powerpoint



Load and Stress Testing

Mercury Load Runner 8.0

Spell Checker


Defect Tracking

BugRat 2.5.3

Third-party tools and add-ins: The System consists primarily of custom code and open source frameworks. These frameworks include Struts, Log4J, and Jakarta Commons. The only proprietary components used are JSpell, the spell checking component, and Cognos, which is the reporting engine used in Ohio.
Database platform and version: The database is Oracle 9i/10g running on a SUN Solaris platform. The database is configured in an Oracle RAC (Real Application Cluster) arrangement.
Configuration Management tools and processes: The SACWIS system employs a robust set of automated Configuration Management process based on custom “ant” scripts that work in conjunction with the CVS Software Version Control tool and various Java environments. These environments include JBoss and IBM WebSphere running on both Unix and Windows platforms. The processes and procedures support a multi-team development environment with a fully automated build feature.
The system is architected and built around an ultra-thin client using the Model View Controller (MVC) implementation pattern. As a result Mobile devices are readily supported by the system.
There are no maintenance tasks that require the system to be shutdown or otherwise made unavailable. Due to the clustered environment, the system can continue to operate at a reduced capacity level, even in the event of a hardware maintenance event.
Various levels of disaster recovery are supported by the application including offsite storage of data, remote “warm site”, separate facility that houses the test and production environments, allowing for the application to be hosted on the Test Hardware in case of emergencies.
Remote access for various database administration, application server and operating system support is configured. There are also various administration tasks that can be done directly through the application over a secure internet connection.
The system is fully 24x7 capable. An IBM Clustered Application Server and Web Server farm is configured to communicate to a cluster database server farm (using Oracle Real Application Clusters).
One of the most challenging aspects of delivering this system was the budget and timeframe. It was the unique combination of tools and process that enabled the technology to be delivered. Creating such a large, complex system in such a short period of time necessitated highly coordinated teams that could work within a Model Driven Development (MDD) approach. Compuware’s OptimalJ automated a large portion of the plumbing code needed for the application, allowing the teams to focus their energy on the presentation tier and business logic. This was very important in delivering the business purposes of the system.
a. This development project coordinated the effort of 45 developers. However small functional teams were formed consisting of five to eight developers.
b. Each small functional team was tasked with two to three use cases per two-week iteration. Because code was generated from models, each team had a head start implementing each use-case. For example, all objects which persisted data to the database were instantiated in code. Additionally, all middle-ware glue which conformed to the architecture for the system was created. This left the task of writing business logic to the developers on the team. Also necessary was the connecting of html user-interface wire-frames to the middleware tier. Team members could write their code in unprotected areas, thus not disturbing generated code, and allowing their work to survive subsequent code generation.
c. Each team consisted of a team lead, business analyst, EJB/Modeling expert, one to two Java/JSP developers, and one to two state employee developers (who will ultimately maintain the application). Tool training was necessary for all development staff and took place during the rapid requirements definition phase of the project. One of the lessons learned was that more than just product training is necessary. When working in an environment where code is generated, architecture training is necessary in order to understand what code gets generated and how to use that code. In future projects, this will be done up front. On this project, it took place as the project progressed.
d. An exhaustive list of team members will be provided upon request.
e. Person months were not calculated for this project, however, anywhere from 10 to 60 individuals were involved concurrently over the course of the 30 month project. Because of the iterative nature of the development project, and close tracking of implemented use-cases, management was able to gauge schedule adherence every two weeks. The project was never more than 10% behind schedule and was ultimately only 2 weeks behind going into user acceptance testing.
f. The user community has been verifying the functionality that is being implemented on an ongoing basis. However the application has not yet been deployed. The pilot period is set to begin in early 2006, with a staggered county by county rollout which will complete by October, 2006.
g. All of the lessons learned have to been fully compiled. However many of the changes to the process and tool usage took place during development. A lessons learned activity was completed at the end of each two week iteration and many small tweaks were made.