George Mason University

Cornerstones Unified Database Design Project

SYST 699: Fall 2014


Project Planning

Given the large scope of this project, the ambitious goal of completing a full systems-engineering life cycle, and the tight schedule of a single semester, our team decided to dedicate the first two weeks of the project to developing a project plan. Additionally, our team consisted of two distance-learning students and one in-class student, so having a defined plan of work, with established roles and responsibilities, was extremely important. A formal Project Plan document was delivered as a class assignment and to our customer. The highlights from this plan are presented in the sub-sections below.

Capabilities Roadmap

The first step of planning involved identifying a high level definition of the system’s capabilities so that the work could be logically decomposed into manageable portions. Keeping the envisioned system in mind, the following Capabilities Roadmap figure was created.

Capabilities Roadmap

We identified the capabilities that needed to be captured to create the unified database of the envisioned system. The capabilities shown in the figure above are defined as:

1.    “Data collection” – One needed to identify the data collected on both the pen and paper intake forms as well as the data that was input to each of the spreadsheets.  From this analysis, one could determine a single intake form.
2.    “Data identified” – A method needed to be determined that would guarantee the unique identity of each client. In addition, the entire collection of data that would be input into the data base needed to be identified together with the output expected to be generated for the normal reports with the expectation that other reports would be generated on an as-needed basis from queries to the database.
3.    “Unified Database designed and implemented” – The design of the unified database needs to support all required functionality, as well as be flexible enough to adapt to future needs. The database must be implemented so that Cornerstones staff can use it for all current functions.
4.    “Unified Database deployed” – The unified database must be deployed to the Cornerstones program locations so that it is accessible to all Cornerstones staff at all program locations and offices.
5.    “Import/export” – Existing client data needs to be migrated to the Unified Database.
6.    “Entry forms” – Electronic forms must be designed and implemented so that Cornerstones staff can use them at program sites to directly enter client data into the Unified Database.
7.    “Reports” – Custom reports must be designed and tested to enhance Cornerstones’ ability to track their clients, measure volume of services provided, discover trends, and capture performance metrics.


The Integrated Master Schedule (IMS) was created and used by the team as a project management tool. It provided our team with a high-level schedule to follow for the semester. In addition, a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) was developed to identify all of the work items to be completed within each phase of the project. These tools allowed us to assign a team member as the lead for each activity. We also used this tool during our weekly team meetings to gauge the status of our progress against our schedule. A view of these items is presented below:



The team developed two sets of milestones for this project. The first set of milestones were class deliverables such as presentations, documents, status reports, meetings with the professor, and the final project presentation. The second set of milestones were directly related to the development of the final product for Cornerstones. These milestones included major deliverables to our customer, such as a project plan, requirements document, design document, integration and test goals, etc. These milestones closely followed our major phases of the systems engineering process. These milestones are listed below:
•    Develop Project Plan
•    Collect Data
•    Capture Originating Requirements
•    Develop Requirements
•    Identify Data
•    Identify Reports
•    Develop Unified Database Design
•    Develop Test Database
•    Integrate, Test, and Validate
•    Customer Handoff

Meetings and Status Reporting

Throughout the semester, our team utilized four types of scheduled meetings to communicate with each other, our customer, and the professor.

Roles & Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of the GMU Team members were captured in the Project Plan. In addition, the Integrated Master Plan (IMS) and Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) show the assigned team member for each task.

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