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Red Sox Corporate Planners —
Information Systems Planners / Consultants

Contact: Ted Williams
Applications: 'Architecture Tool' for Systems Planning with Northern Telecom
Requirement: Red Sox was positioning itself as the key to Northern Telecom addressing its mountain of a backlog of systems that needed to be developed in short order to address its rapidly changing business needs. To do so, it needed some systems to support its systems design professionals so that they could get the most out of the time they spent with their client's personnel for requirements analysis and system definition.
Solution: To meet their needs, Cherniak Software implemented SAL, the System Architect's Lever.

SAL is a tool for creating and presenting demonstrations of information systems. It is especially helpful for the purpose of evolving solutions to match business situation requirements; it makes it easy to examine and compare different solutions to the same requirements. SAL allows a system architect to (among other things)
  • demonstrate a system (though some parts may exist only in part, or only in mock-up form)
  • demonstrate the system with a set of `canned' demos each of which can be shown as a `slide show'
    • from start to finish, each slide with its story, a part of the scenario
    • by easily jumping from one slide to some other (checkpoint) slide that might be several steps forward in the demo, or even backward \- with the choice of which slide to jump to being made by picking from a list
  • demonstrate the system without manually entering any data during the demonstration but by accepting data that had been prepared ahead of time (as if it had been entered)
  • switch back and forth from interactive mode to canned mode \- yet still jump to some milestone within a prepared demo as if there had been no data entered interactively
  • demonstrate the system with different sets of data, some of which may be uploaded from an external source.
  • record notes or comments or annotations in such a way that they can be recalled by (a combination of) who made them, when they were made, which slide / part of the story they pertained to, what issue (or issues) the comments are related to
  • print a hardcopy version of any demo / slide show (or any portion thereof)
  • make changes on the fly to the system being demonstrated, changes that will be immediately reflected in the demonstration
  • make changes to data and have them reflected through any subset of slides
Result: Experience has shown that, with real-world systems, it is difficult to organize requirements due to magnitude and complexity. SAL allows one to overcome this problem.

With the benefit of the System Architect's Lever, Red Sox was able to produce more than expected in a shorter time frame with fewer staff than anticipated. What's more, the product was lauded by the people at Northern Telecom as an effective tool that allowed them to get a better picture of what an eventual system would look like, and as a catalyst in generating ideas as to how to build the most into a system.
Platform: To fit Northern Telecom's strategy, SAL was implemented on a platform new to Cherniak Software and to Red Sox. Cherniak Software carried out the investigation, the feasibility study, and the acquisition of the tools (the Visual Works / Smalltalk platform, an object-oriented GUI [graphical user interface] platform developed by ParcPlace, the Xerox spinoff). Cherniak Software developed a shell on top of the toolset to streamline its development, and was successful in taking it from PC-compatible hardware to Macintosh.
Last Updated: March 24, 2017