Cornerstones Unified Database Implementation Project

SYST/OR 699 Capstone Project


Cornerstones is a non-profit charitable organization chartered to provide community services to needy residents in Fairfax County. Cornerstones provides food, shelter, and other services to households primarily in the Reston and Herndon areas. Cornerstones present record-keeping consisted of paper forms and large, complicated spreadsheets spread among various programs and projects. Extensive labor was required to locate information and compile both internal and external reports. Cornerstones required a unified database to collect, record, and report information to fulfill County reporting requirements as well as requirements of donors and other stakeholders.

In the fall of 2014, a team of GMU students analyzed Cornerstones' requirements. They successfully designed a relational database but it lacked any practical means of input or output. Our team was tasked with the follow-on effort to fully meet the customer's requirements.

The spring GMU team designed, developed, tested, and implemented a fully operational web application. The team applied sound systems engineering principles and conducted extensive usability testing to be able to accomplish this enormous task in less than three months. The application provides an intuitive and user-friendly interface for entering, updating, and retrieving information on households, clients, services, and other information. Additionally, the application generates computationally complex reports with a single click. The application can feed a variety of analytic and visualization software packages. The spring GMU team provided Cornerstones with a demonstration of advanced data visualization using the database.

The web application can be used on any computer or device with a web browser. Cornerstones staff can remotely use the application from any of Cornerstones' seven locations and offices. The application has been successfully installed and tested on the customer's target server. Training with staff was conducted, and the system is fully implemented. Based on customer estimates, the application will save over a half man-year of labor, plus it will revolutionize Cornerstones'' ability to track and analyze its performance.