What was the scope of their involvement?
When Planet Argon entered the project, the first chore was to perform a code audit, assess the program, how it worked, and to what degree it had been neglected. It required a number of fixes behind-the-scenes in order to make it more efficient, functional, and accurate. There was a continuous need on our end to extract reports and adjust them, but, as we worked with Planet Argon, they made changes and introduced efficiencies so that we could extract a report and not have to modify it. We could get our hands on the data we needed to report against the federal grant more efficiently.
Planet Argon cleaned some elements up and worked with us on storyboarding what an improvement would look like. This happened both on the backend, making a better user experience for our 50-year-old staff, but also allowing me, as a program manager, to get the type of data we wanted and needed for reporting to our funder. Requirements change each year, so Planet Argon helped us build the system such that we could better-respond in the way we were required. They made suggestions, giving us new restructuring ideas, and have been able to fix some of the issues which were invisible to me, but which have improved the overall functionality.
The website is intended for an educational outreach program centered on nutrition and physical activity which works with low-income families, adults, and youth. We’re using federal dollars for outreach in schools and the community, from food pantries to housing developments, any place where our target population might be found. We teach a series of classes, and also work on community engagement projects, like working with corner stores and getting them to provide healthier foods for the neighborhood. Everything being done by educators needs to be reported, whether it’s a series of lessons, or coalition meetings, in order to change what is being offered in the school cafeterias. It’s a statewide program, and it needs to be organized according to who is providing the service or education, and where. It’s a large database which has to capture this information and hold on to it for a number of years, for auditing purposes.
It was somewhat chaotic in places, but, once Planet Argon came on, they were able to help us keep it in a neater fashion. We had not put resources into it for a number of years.
I believe that the site was built with Ruby on Rails, and a part of the problem was finding someone able to work with this technology. We haven’t used Planet Argon for any other services. The site is mainly used for staff reporting, and doesn’t have a need for marketing or design services.
Because it’s still being housed on our university server, it has been too difficult for Planet Argon to interface with it and make changes, given its different protections. They have been setting up an outside server for the program, which has made it easier for them to work on the system.
Right now, we are working with 3 people from Planet Argon’s team, including a project manager who assigns the different fixes needed. Another person is working on migrating the server, and the 3rd is in charge of basic fixes and adjustments.
How did you come to work with Planet Argon?
I went online and looked for a company with Ruby on Rails expertise, and which was local to me. I wanted the ability to meet in person, and Planet Argon was the first option I came across. I contacted them, received a quick response, and we got together to talk about what we needed. We didn’t contact any other companies.
How much have you invested with Planet Argon?
The code audit has had a budget of between $100,000 and $150,000, including the work in the upcoming year.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with Planet Argon in March 2015, and have an ongoing collaboration.