George Mason University

Cornerstones Unified Database Design Project

SYST 699: Fall 2014



During the Integration phase of this project, the GMU team installed the test database onto the dedicated Cornerstones workstation. In addition, the tools used to create database queries, host the web server, and provide a MySQL interface for the database were installed. A description of the tools can be found in the Design section of this website.

The Cornerstones workstation provided to the team was a Dell desktop workstation. It is located in the Cornerstones main office in Reston, and is accessible to Cornerstones staff. The workstation is protected by a user authentication as required. The workstation operates on a Windows 7 operating system, and all of the installed tools are compatible with this system. The licenses for all software on the machine are up to date and fully supported for Cornerstones use.

During integration, the following schedule of activities was followed:
•    October 2014:
o    Finish up with database design;
o    Request for workstation through Cornerstones IT staff;
o    IT ticket created;
o    Required specifications for workstation captured;
•    November 2014:
o    Follow-up with IT staff;
o    Tools tested on local GMU Team members’ machines;
o    Database installed on local GMU Team members’ machines;
o    Mock data for testing created;
•    December 2014:
o    Workstation acquired;
o    Tools and database installed on workstation;
o    Test of database functions;
o    Training of Cornerstones staff;

Integration activities overlapped with the test phase.

Test & Verification

The test and verification phase of this project involved testing of the database functions and verification that the design of the database meets all the requirements. The tests were performed both on individual GMU Team members’ computers, as well as the formal installation of the database on the Cornerstones workstation. The tests were performed with mock client data, due to the privacy issues with actual client data. The team found all functionalities of the test database to be successful with the mock data set, and have trained the Cornerstones staff to execute the tests with the real data.

The test procedures for this phase consisted of running through the use cases defined during the analysis phase of the project. In summary, these activities include:
•    Enter new client
•    Update existing client record
•    Enter new household
•    Update existing household
•    Delete client data
•    Run query for specific statistics as found in the Analysis section

The verification process involved the mapping of each requirement to the use case that it addresses as well as the design elements that fulfill the requirement. The Requirements Traceability Matrix tracks this mapping. The Requirements Traceability Matrix can be found in the Final Report.


The goal of the validation phase was to show proficient use of the installed database by the Cornerstones staff. In order to measure this proficiency, the staff were required to execute all of the use cases, following the test procedures presented above. Successful passing of these tests were seen as validation that the delivered test database met the requirements and addressed Cornerstones immediate needs.


After completing the above phases of the project, the GMU Team performed a formal delivery of all project artifacts to Cornerstones. The most important delivery was the active database, as installed on the Cornerstones workstation. The complete list of formally delivered artifacts is presented below:


Conclusions & Future Work

At the beginning of the semester, Cornerstones approached GMU with the challenges they experience in their current system. These challenges were in the areas of accurately and comprehensively tracking their clients, and their clients’ participation in Cornerstones programs. This problem was important to Cornerstones because they desired more resolution into the success of their programs and the impact they had on the local community. Through careful planning, analysis, design, and deployment of a unified database system, the GMU Team delivered a solution to Cornerstones that addresses these immediate challenges.

The improvements that were delivered in the unified database fall into three distinct categories:
1.    Functions that were previously difficult or time-consuming for Cornerstones to perform. For example, unique identification of clients across multiple programs, tracking of program participation by clients
2.    Functions that were desired, but impossible for Cornerstones to perform. For example, assignment of unique client IDs, reporting of successful program tracks (looking at a client whose livelihood was greatly improved and retrieving their history of program participation to determine which programs were effective), update of client data simultaneously from different program offices
3.    Functions that were unknown to Cornerstones. For example, trend analysis of multiple variables over time (such as mapping of amount of aid received during particular times of the year over the five CBI locations), anticipation of clients’ needs in specific areas and forecasting of demand for certain services

With the unified database, Cornerstones is able to benefit in their client tracking and reporting functions and make their business more effective. The unified database also allows Cornerstones staff members to spend less time manually entering, sorting through, and compiling data. This will free up Cornerstones staff to focus more on analysis of their programs’ effectiveness in the community. With all the data being centrally stored in the database, Cornerstones can also run more complex types of analysis, which will yield greater understanding of the dynamics that are present in their local community. Accurate tracking of aid provided also provides sponsors with a clearer picture of Cornerstones’ effectiveness, and can allow Cornerstones to secure additional funding.

With the completion of the first three capabilities as illustrated in the capabilities roadmap, there is still more capabilities to be implemented of the fully envisioned system. With the preliminary database in place, future teams will now be able to perform improvements to the database, design and implement web-based entry forms and data access, import and export real client data, create of more advanced report types, and upgrade the system as needed.

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