The Institut für Verbundstudien der Fachhochschulen Nordrhein-Westfalens (short: IfV NRW), based in Hagen, is a joint scientific institution and a central coordination office for the collaborative study programmes offered by the universities of applied sciences in North Rhine-Westphalia. The Institute acts as a service provider and service institution for the cooperating universities, supports the development and implementation of joint study programmes and also offers subject-related and technical support.
What was the client's problem?
Simply put, the only challenge was digitalisation. One can understand a lot or nothing at all by this term. In the case of the IfV, the management of the Media Design & Publishing work area identified a number of factors at an early stage that would increase the efficiency of the work and at the same time set the course for the future work of the institute.
The focus was on the following challenges:
- Training and qualification of the employees to be ready for the coming changes. This training included the transition from file-based working to working with version-controlled repositories.
- Transfer of existing data of the own department from many sources into one data source
- The implementation of quality assurance during the migration process
- The implementation of an application that maps the existing, manual processes in a digitalised workflow
- The implementation of interfaces to other departments and systems outside the Media Design & Publishing department
Why was parsQube aked for help?
Already in summer 2012, parsQube (at that time not yet a GmbH) and the data2type GmbH started a large training series on XML technologies and their use.
The training series lasted 6 months. Every fortnight, a different topic was examined in a two-day seminar. Details of the training programme can be found at:
Ms Ulrike Borinski, Head of the Media Design & Publishing department, attended these trainings with the entire staff of the department.
parsQube and data2type are the organisers of the annual <markupforum/> XML conference. Every year, Ms Borinski and staff from her department attended the forum. The annual reunion was also used to repeatedly exchange ideas regarding the redesign of processes.
Between 2013 and 2015, internal comprehensive adjustments then took place within the Media Design & Publishing department. The employees were trained and the first data transformations were implemented by the employees. The next step was to analyse and implement the workflows in an application.
How did we proceed methodically?
The first step was a two-day kick-off workshop in Hagen. During this workshop, the following information was collected and the following points were developed:
- The existing workflow was defined and visualised
- The existing data fields were analysed
- Improvements and adaptations to the existing workflow were discussed together and also recorded
- The employees were trained in the use of the Redmine ticket management system
- Furthermore, common Redmine rules were set up (e.g. definition of the different ticket statuses, assigning a ticket to another person, etc.)
- At the same time, the IfV was set up internally by parsQube as a project in Redmine
Furthermore, the following commitments were agreed for the collaboration:
- The creation of the tickets as well as the definition of the scope of the next sub-project should always take place together and on site in Hagen
- During implementation, regular telephone coordination should take place
- For larger sub-projects, acceptance should take place alternately in Hagen or Karlsruhe
What was the idea or concept?
The idea was to set up our own application that could be integrated into the existing infrastructure. In the first step, the existing database was mirrored. Afterwards, the workflows for the customer's work processes as well as analysis options via work processes and metadata management were set up on top of it.
How was the idea implemented?
The application server was available in the database system existdb. The entire logic of the application was written in XQuery. Adapters were necessary to connect the different systems with each other. Java was used for these. For the validation and thus the quality assurance of the data, both Schematron and RELAX NG were used. Furthermore, an XSLT pipeline for the production of teaching material was available. Parts of it were also integrated into the application for quality assurance. In addition, SQL was used for data synchronisation.
Where does the client stand today?
The project was completed in 2017. The data transformation, corresponding quality assurance measures, the implementation of the application to map the workflow and the operation of an XML database as a data source, including the implementation of necessary interfaces to systems outside the Media Design & Publishing department, were successfully completed.
The application and the adapted processes are still in operation today. Smaller adjustments or changes, as well as specific consultations and trainings, keep the Institut für Verbundstudien NRW in contact with the parsQube GmbH to this day.