Case Study – MEAA Membership Central

Organisation: Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
Role: Software Architect & DBA
Date: 2003 – 2014
Key Deliverable: Design and deploy a billing system to maximise available income.

“His initiative and understanding of our requirements has made our organisation unique in that our
membership services, professional programs, account reporting and distribution of our Equity
residuals income work as a complimentary system saving us time and money.

On a personal level, I’ve always found Craig to be a constant source of support and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our working relationship. I regard his dedication and resourcefulness as two of his greatest strengths and would be pleased to recommend him for any role that he pursues.”

Melissa McAllister, Director Member Central

Background

In early 2000, the organisation(‘the Alliance’) was in a state of disarray. A previous IT Services provider had implemented a disparate and non functional Novell Netware/Sybase membership database solution which was not keeping pace with the rapidly changing payments environment of the day. Additionally the system was becoming unmanageable from an administration standpoint, impacting staff morale.

Problems escalated and the working relationship with the IT company broke down. The Alliance then started to look for an alternative technology solution, and contacted my then employer Focus Business Technologies. I was entrusted with the design, project management and delivery of the new system.

Beginning in mid 2000 work began on creating an n-tier client-server database application (‘Membership Central’) which was successfully implemented in November 2001 much to the clients’ satisfaction.

The resulting application contained > 100K LOC and relied heavily on COM and WIN32 API. MSSQL was used as the DBMS and the solution was distributed nationally using Citrix Metaframe.

BAU key responsibilities

  1. The day-to-day administration of the SQL Server
  2. Management and resolution of incident reports and bug fixes using Fogbugz.
  3. Release of patches and periodical updates.
  4. Design and implementation of version 2.x of the system.

Ongoing development

“Membership Central version 2 has had a positive impact on the way that our organisers interact
with the database. Ease of identifying members in particular industries, geographical locations
and/or workplaces ensures that your union stays abreast of changes and identifies trends/issues
expediently.”

Melissa McAllister, Director Member Central

In 2003 I joined the Alliance to continue to work on the system. I was based in the Sydney office and worked closely with Peter Ross (Director, Technology) and Melissa Mcallister(Director, Member Central) who continue to work with the Alliance to this day.

Over the life of the project the DBMS was upgraded on numerous occasions from MSSQL 7 to MSSQL 2008. I handled a number of server upgrades involving close liason with other technology providers.

Version 2.x of ‘Membership Central’ contained a number of significant enhancements:

• Credit Card Encryption using open source Blowfish algorithm in COM component.

• SMTP integration supporting both plain text and HTML outbound mailing.

• Billing engine re-write supporting multiple currency types to accommodate NZ members.

• Refactoring and replacement of procedural code with set-based solutions.

• DB Schema optimizations to reduce data redundancies.

• Implementation of binary encoding schemes to facilitate faster query times.

• A ‘fuzzy’ algorithm to enable probabilistic matching of name and address data with GL system.

• Third party interfaces:

  1. Data matching against AEC to provide membership density breakdowns.
  2. Postal Address interface to Australia Post G-NAF.
  3. PERL based validation libraries for telephone numbers.
  4. COM based SMTP email address validation libraries.