Thursday 6 December 2012

Stadium3 Release : 3.3.2022.4456

Build 3.3.2022.4456 is available for download. It includes:
  • Fix for issue with dependant dropdowns
  • RDLViewer control -User Id of logged in Stadium user can now be passed as a parameter to reports

Thursday 18 October 2012

Stadium3 Release : 3.3.2009.4429

Build 3.3.2009.4429 is available for download. It includes:
  • Progress image is now displayed when treeview is added to a page
  • Fix for script error on dependant dropdowns

Stadium4 Release : 4.1.2176.4851

Build 4.1.2176.4851 is available for download. It includes:
  • Progress image is now displayed when a treeview is added to a page
  • Grid headers now wrap
  • CallLinxProcess - Only solution name is required for Linx 4.0
  • Fix for scrollbars in panel
  • Fix for sorting icons on columns
  • Fix for script error on dependant dropdowns
  • Fix for grid header text and font size issue

All new in Stadium 4!

In the recent months, we have implemented various features to add value to our product and simplify user tasks. Our Stadium 4 users can now take advantage on the following features :
  • Improved overall security
  • Description/help on DataGrid properties
  • Automation of spacing for HeaderText in Label and DataGrid columns
  • Automatic checking for duplicate columns when you add columns in DataGrid Column property editor
  • Visible property on Filter, Button and Link controls
  • Customize Title property for Filter control
  • Store Linx return values in variables
We have added more features this year!
  • Destination file name property added in Upload File control
  • A more user-friendly welcome message which displays the user's first name
  • Busy icon is displayed when you click on the Menu
  • Configurable text for DisplayEmptyDataText property in DataGrid
  • Required field validation for DetailsView dropdown columns
  • Separation of Site Role and Application Role for Users
  • Improvements to the ImageViewer control
  • Autogenerate columns in GridIterator
  • Font property in Textbox control
  • ReportViewer 2012
  • Audit Logging for changes made at Stadium front-end
  • Configurable Header Text on Stadium home page
  • Global level configuration for DataGrid properties - Wrap, DisplayEmptyDataText, Font size, Page size
  • New features in FormatCondtions - Global formatting for Font, ColourField property

Saturday 25 August 2012

Stadium4 Release : 4.1.2157.4814

It has been six months since we launched Stadium 4.0 beta program. Today is the first official release of Stadium 4.0.

Build 4.1.2157.4814 is available for download. It includes:
  • Link column values can now be passed as parameter values
  • Removed shadow effects because of browser issues
  • Improved error message that occurs when uploading sap files
  • DataGrid - HeaderText property has spaces by default
  • DetailsView - LabelText property has spaces by default
  • DataGrid - Default formatting applied to decimal columns
  • DataGrid - We have started on help, as a first attempt we have added help to DataGrid properties
Most of the above features are as a result of feedback from our team at Metropolitan. Nic, Eduan and Carmen, thanks for being our early adopters, and for the wonderful feedback. I wouldn't have been able to remove the beta label if it weren't for you guys :-).

A special thanks to Dina and Carien, two really passionate ladies, I have much admiration for both of you. Both of you have added a special touch to Stadium, in very different ways.

And last but not least our Stadium 4.0 development team, Alex, Shaun and Vimesh, I know you guys have had to sweat it out, swirling through those million lines of code,  not easy!

Thank you.

Thursday 26 July 2012

How to call a Linx Process and store a return value in variable

Stadium allows you to call a Linx process and with the latest release, it gets one step  better! The values returned by a Linx process can be used within Stadium.

Scenario : Set field property in DetailsView to ReadOnly based on value returned from Linx process

Set up a Linx process that returns Boolean value = True.

In Stadium Designer, set up a page with a Button and DetailsView.

In the button Click event, add a variable called linxvar.

Then, add CallLinxProcess action the ‘Click’ event of the button.
CallLinxProcess action has a ‘Parameters’ property. This property allows you to assign Input and output parameters. In this scenario, the Linx process contains one output parameter.

Set the parameter as follows:
  • Parameter Source :  None
  • Name : Boolean1 (Use the same name as Linx Output variable)
  • OutputToVariable : linxvar (name of the variable which was assigned in Click event)
  • Type : Boolean (Same type as Linx Output variable)

In this scenario, we are using the return variable to set a field in DetailsView to ReadOnly. To do that, add a SetControlProperties event after CallLinxProcess. Set the field ReadOnly value to linxvar variable.

You can now view the page in Internet Explorer. When you click on the Button, the Linx process will be called.

In Summary, you can call a Linx process; store the return value in a variable, then use the variable to set properties or as an input to other processes. However, take note of the following rules:
  1. The variable name defined in CallLinxProcess parameters property MUST be the same as the variable name in Linx.
  2. Linx allows Input and Output variable to have the same name but Stadium does not. So, if you want to link a Linx process in Stadium, ensure that the variable names are different.

Stadium Datagrid Visual Design Considerations

In Stadium 4, we’ve made a few visual changes to datagrids, including more whitespace. Whitespace or “negative space” is the space between and around elements in a graphic composition. The price we’ve paid is that datagrids now occupy a little more screen real estate than they did in the past. What we win is friendlier, less cluttered and more elegant data presentation.

Stadium is our rapid application development (RAD) tool. Our vision with Stadium is to simplify business application development as much as we possibly can. We want to make business people’s lives easier. At the same time, we have to consider the needs of the end-users of those (rapidly developed) web apps and try to make their lives easier too!

Existing Stadium apps address the needs of banks and investment managers, who typically process massive amounts of transactional data daily. The users of these applications often work in Dilbertesque, cubicle office environments under a great deal of pressure. The tasks they perform are generally routine batch processes that need to be completed within very strict timeframes.

For example, a user will import a few thousand transactions, run a validation check on all of them, export exceptions to one system and back up data to another. In this case, the user is notified of task completion by some kind of message (e.g. “Import completed successfully!”) and has little interest in individual record details.

Another kind of task involves individual records, such as data maintenance tasks. In this case, the user needs to find a specific record. He filters the data according to some known criteria and then he scans the filtered data until he somehow recognises the record he’s looking for.

Data in Stadium is presented to users in tables we call datagrids. It is extremely important that the information displayed to users is legible and easy to scan. We also want the data to be presented in such a way that it conveys a sense of order and calm. In addition to this, Stadium clients demand that their brands should be communicated by using very specific colour palettes.

How does one visually design a datagrid so that the information it displays:
  • is legible,
  • is easy to scan,
  • conveys a sense of order and calm and
  • conforms to client branding rules?
The short answer is: apply the principles of information design (and then refine).

Here’s the slightly longer answer.

We want to show as much data in as small a space as possible, without compromising on the other aspects. To convey a sense of order and calm, we tried to strive for as much visual consistency in our Stadium output apps as possible.

A surprisingly large proportion of our current end-users are stuck with older versions of IE and Windows. We decided to stick with Verdana as our default typeface, as it is one of the handful of typefaces guaranteed to display consistently across (older) browsers and operating systems, and was designed to be readable at small sizes.

The datagrid row height in Stadium 3 was 23px by default:

We thought this looked a little crowded and busy, with the congestion increasing when dropdowns or datepickers were added to grid, and increased the line height:

The additional whitespace adds some breathing room to the design. Dropdowns, textboxes and datepickers can be added into the datagrid and ample padding remains. For example, if we added a dropdown and a datepicker column into the datagrid, the datagrid’s rows needn’t stretch and some space remains between the controls and the grid lines:

For clients with very specific brand colours, the datagrid appearance can be changed to the desired theme. For example, the above datagrid in our Scarlet theme looks like this:

Information design is not an exact science. It is a field of study that aims to discover how we can make data easier to use and to interpret. It aims to derive principles we can apply in different use cases and scenarios, making the data under those unique circumstances more useful, and in so doing to add value to people’s lives.

It’s a process of optimisation where we strive to improve upon our existing designs within a framework of constraints. While we know that users will have to scroll more in certain cases, the new visual design lends itself out to more consistency and is tidier and more elegant.

Let us know what you think.

Stadium4 Release : 4.1.2144.4793

Build 4.1.2144.4793 is available for download. It includes:
  • Added paging on manage users screen
  • Filtering on manage users screen
  • New File->Generate Stats File menu item in designer
  • CallLinxAction can now store return values in variables
  • Button - New Visible property
  • Filter - New Visible property
  • DataGrid field editor - Changed behaviour of 'Refresh' toolbar button, it now only adds unmapped columns
  • DetailsView field editor - Changed behaviour of 'Refresh' toolbar button, it now only adds unmapped fields
  • HeaderText property in Stadium designer now defaults to 'Stadium'
  • Burgundy theme is no more, instead we have a new  'Scarlet' theme and colour scheme has been changed
  • Filter control has new 'Title' property
  • Fix for custom setting not working when used in queries
  • Fix for user unable to login if password has special characters
  • Fixed several panel display issues
Note: All sap files will need to be opened in designer and upgraded to latest version.

Stadium3 Release : 3.3.1993.4402

Build 3.3.1993.4402 is available for download. It includes:
  • Added paging on manage users screen
  • Filtering on manage users screen
  • New File->Generate Stats File menu item in designer
  • Fix for custom setting not working when used in queries
  • Fix for user unable to login if password has special characters

Wednesday 25 July 2012

How to call a Stored Procedure and store a return value in a variable

In Stadium, it is possible to call stored procedures which return output values, and in turn display these output values in controls.

Scenario: Calculate Currency amount based on Exchange Rate

User enters Amount and Exchange Rate, and then clicks on the Calculate button. A calculated amount is displayed in a Label.

Steps :

Create a DetailsView with 2 Fields – Amount and Exchange Rate. Add a Calculate button and a Label called CalculatedValueLabel. DetailsView will be used to pass input values and Label will be used to display output values.

To the button Click event, add a variable (I named it calculateVariable).

Add ‘ExecuteSQLCommand’ event to the button.

Select a SQL connection in the Connection property. In the CommandDetails property, choose the Stored Procedure you want to connect to. Click on Refresh Parameters button. Parameters that are in the Stored Procedure are added automatically in Stadium.

In this example, there are 2 Input Parameters (value and exchangeValue) and 1 Output Parameter (calculatedValue).

Input parameter settings :

Assign the DetailsView field value to the Input Parameters (value and exchangeValue) using ‘Control’ Parameter Source.

Output parameter settings:

Set Parameter source for Output Parameter (calculatedValue) to ‘Output to Variable’. Select the output variable from OutputToVariable dropdown list. Type value can be selected from Boolean, DateTime, Int and String depending on the type of data you want to display.

Add SetControlProperties event after the ExecuteSQLCommand event. SetControlProperties event can be used to assign the variable value to other controls. In this example, we will be assigning it to a Label control.

Check on the Label. Select the variable that is used to store the output values (calculateVariable) as Text value.

Other Controls that can display values from Variables are :
  • DetailsView
  • DataGrid
  • TextBox
In a more advanced usage, it can be used as an Input to other processes such as CallLinxProcess or passed to events within the same Click event such as DisplayMessageBox or Decision.

In summary, users can call a Stored Procedure, pass values to the Input Parameters and display results received from the Output parameter.
  1. A Stadium control passes input values to Stored Procedure
  2. Stored Procedure does the Calculation, then passes the result to a Stadium control
  3. Stadium Control saves the results to a variable to be used when needed.

Friday 1 June 2012

Security assessment summary

We did a security assessment of Stadium in January this year. It was done by  company called Sensepost.

Risk Summary

The overall application security risk rating was calculated as: MediumThe result is based on the following statistics:

Total number of findings: 11
  • High findings: 3
  • Medium findings: 5
  • Low findings: 3
The assessment was made on the basis that the application was accessible over the internet.

As a first step, we have decided to address all the high priority issues in Stadium 4.
  • Cross-site scripting
'The Stadium3 application was vulnerable to a persistent cross-site scripting(XSS) attack. Example: When adding a new item to the tree view, it was possible to inject Javascript in a node. Since no input validation or output encoding was performed on this user input, the injected javascript was reflected back and executed by victim's browser.'

Business ImpactA successful attack could allow an attacker to gain access to the environmnet as another user. This could lead to authorisation of malicious transactions.

Changes madeAll controls that have cross-site scripting vulnerability have been changed so that any text they output on the page is html encoded to prevent script injection.

This means that html injection is no longer possible. This may be a problem if existing implementations are currently making use of html injection in their applications.
  • Application does not use encryption
OverviewThe application did not make use of any encryption mechanism. This opens the application up to sniffing attacks, whereby an attacker could intercept information being sent from the client to ther server.

Business ImpactSince the application information is transmitted in clear text over an unencrypted connection, an attacker may intercept and view sensitive information such as login details.

Changes made
No code changes were made. The fix for this is to use an SSL certificate on the web server.
  • Clear text submission of password
OverviewThe login form sent the password in clear text over the internet. This could expose customers' credentials and HTTP session IDs to the network packet capture attacks.

Business ImpactPasswords submitted over an unencrypted connection are vulnerable to capture by an attacker who is suitably positioned on the network.

Changes made
No code changes were made. The fix for this is to use an SSL certificate on the web server.  Further explanation can be found at:

Monday 28 May 2012

Stadium3 Release : 3.3.1983.4381

Build 3.3.1983.4381 is available for download. It includes:
  • Designer - Fix for error that occurred when 'Events' window was closed 
  • Date format for all date fields can now be set to 'dd/MM/yyyy'
All date fields till now have always been displayed in 'yyyy/MM/dd' format. This can now be changed to 'dd/MM/yyyy' by adding below setting in web.config:

  <appSettings>     .......................
    <add key="DateFormat" value="dd/MM/yyyy"/>

Please note that Sql server queries work with format 'yyyy/MM/dd'. If you are using the new format, all sql queries will have to be modified to use 'convert' function. Stadium format conditions with date values will also have to be changed to conform to dd/MM/yyyy format.

Stadium4 Release : 4.1.2119.4736

Build 4.1.2119.4736 is available for download. It includes:
  • Designer - Fix for error that occurred when 'Events' window was closed
  • Chart control - Small changes to visual display
  • Grid control - Height and width in percentages now work
  • Menu item editor - Auto populates 'Text' property when 'DestinationPage' is selected
  • Date Format - Date format for all date fields can now be set to 'dd/MM/yyyy'
All date fields till now have always been displayed in 'yyyy/MM/dd' format. This can now be changed to 'dd/MM/yyyy' by adding below setting in web.config:

    <appSettings>     .......................
        <add key="DateFormat" value="dd/MM/yyyy"/>

This setting will be in web.config file for a clean install but needs to be added for an upgrade.

Please note that Sql server queries work with format 'yyyy/MM/dd'. If you are using the new format, all sql queries will have to be modified to use 'convert' function. Stadium format conditions with date values will also have to be changed to conform to dd/MM/yyyy.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Stadium4 Release : 4.1.2110.4717

Build 4.1.2110.4717 is available for download. It includes:
  • Command editor - Ordering of stored procs is per schema now
  • Application name is now populated automatically when uploading a sap file
  • DataGrid dropdown columns can have different values based on data in another column
  • Fix for detailsview readonly field becoming editable when page is refreshed
  • Maintenance message is now not displayed when assigning access rights to a role in an application
  • Treeview node click event is fired when loading page if SelectedNodePath has been set by default
  • Button - BackColour property works now
  • Panels with percentages for width and height works correctly now
  • Grid borders now display correctly in IE 8.0
  • Cross-site scripting security fixes
  • Chart - Border property has been removed
  • Chart - Default colour palette has been changed

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Stadium3 Release : 3.3.1977.4368

Build 3.3.1977.4368 is available for download. It includes:
  • Fix for detailsview readonly field becoming editable when page is refreshed
  • Maintenance message is now not displayed when assigning access rights to a role in an application
  • Treeview node click event is fired when loading page if SelectedNodePath has been set by default
  • DataGrid dropdown columns can have different values based on data in another column

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Stadium as a Test Management Tool

Test Management is a crucial task and is necessary for every software development organisation’s QA process. It involves many tasks including writing Test Cases, documenting Test Run Results, logging Issues and producing Test Summary Reports.

It is necessary to find software that can manage these simple, yet crucial, tasks. I did some research on the test management tools that are available on the market. Most tools require you to purchase a license which does not come at a cheap price for commercial users. So, I thought, what can be better than using our in-house product, Stadium, as a Test Management tool?

The versatility of Stadium has brought a whole new level in this scenario.

I started by listing out the tasks that a typical Test Management tool should do. Among the main tasks are:
  • Creating and Maintaining Test Cases
  • Documenting Test Results
  • Logging Issues
  • Generating Reports
Next, I created database tables that would store all the information. For example, a TestCase table would consist of the following fields:
  • Test ID
  • Description
  • Pre-Requisites
  • Steps
  • Expected Results
  • Stadium Version
The last step is to set up the pages in Designer. Look at the screenshots to see Digiata’s very own Test Management tool!

1.       Test Case Management

Users can view Test Cases that are added previously and filter according to keywords they prefer.

They can also add their own set of Test Cases.
The tool also allows users to update existing Test Cases.

2.       Test Run Management

Users can view latest Test Runs according to the date that the tests were executed and status of the Test Cases.

While running the tests, they can log the status in the following page.

3.       Issue Tracking

The tool allows users to view status of the Issues that were logged previously.

Users can log new Issues for Failed Test Cases.

Users can update the Issue status. For example, if an Issue is being fixed by the developer, the status can be changed to Dev. Other status for Issues includes - Ready (If the fix is ready to be tested) and Closed (If the Issue has been fixed).

4.       Viewing Reports

Users can view Test Result summary on the Reports Page. It consists of a pie chart displaying the status and a list of Test Cases according to their status.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Error - System.InvalidOperationExceptionOperation is not valid due tothe current state of the object

Please note there was a recent microsoft security update that changed the default limit of form fields on pages to 1000. If a page exceeds this amount, you are likely to see below error:

System.InvalidOperationExceptionOperation is not valid due to the current state of the object.

Adding the below setting to the web-config file overcomes this limitation,  in this example it is increased to 2000.

     <add key="aspnet:MaxHttpCollectionKeys" value="2000" />

More information can be found at:
Note: This setting has been added to the default web.config file, but for upgrades we don't replace the web.config file so it will have to be added manually.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Stadium3 Release : 3.3.1970.4353

Build 3.3.1970.4353  is available for download. It includes:
  • Users can specify a custom setting for URL property of RSSFeedViewer control
  • Added MaxHttpCollectionKeys setting to default web.config
  • Fix for issue that was causing dependant values to be lost when opening Chid Grid Editor
  • Fix for issue that occurred when using GridIterator and IterateCurrentPageOnly in combination
  • Fix for script error when clicking on button on messagebox

Stadium4 Release : 4.1.2084.4655

Build 4.1.2084.4655 is available for download. It includes:
  • A better looking chart control
  • Datainput fields have new width property
  • Install now adds all neccessary security rights to configuration folder
  • Added MaxHttpCollectionKeys setting to default web.config
  • Users can specify a custom setting for URL property of RSSFeedViewer control
  • Fix for format conditions on grid not working
  • Fix for issue with RDL viewer not working
  • Fix for issue with menu displaying incorrectly
  • Fix for server side paging
  • Fix for issue that occurred when using GridIterator and IterateCurrentPageOnly in combination
  • Fix for issue that was causing dependant values to be lost when opening Chid Grid Editor
  • Fix for formatconditions not working when grid has filter
  • Fix for menu item seperator property not working

Tuesday 3 April 2012

A look at LightSwitch

I have spent some time looking at LightSwitch, a Microsoft product that is in some ways similar to Stadium.

How does it create value?The primary aim of LightSwitch is to create business applications in a rapid manner.

Target users

LightSwitch is primarily targeted at developers who need to rapidly produce business applications.  It is very much part of Visual Studio and the application designer uses the Visual Studio IDE.

There are however contradicting statements from Microsoft regarding the target user:

Marketing saying it is aimed at at non-developers:

Jason Zander, corporate vice president of the Visual Studio Team in the Developer division says it is aimed at developers:

Microsoft is sending out a very confusing message but my impression is that it is definitely aimed at developers. In order to achieve anything substantial, coding is required.

Data and Screens

LightSwitch is focussed on building business applications and most business applications consist of at least two things:
  • Data
  • Screens
There is a clear split between these two in LightSwitch. User first defines the data for an application by creating an 'entity'.
This 'entity' can be linked to a new table in the database or an existing table. The user can then design the screen and link to it to the entity.

I like this clear separation between data and screens.

Screen designer

LightSwitch's screen designer does not have a WYSIWYG editor and I find the model very confusing. Here is an example of how the model looks:

It is not easy to map the design time concepts to the final screen and this requires some serious effort.

Screen templatesWhen user creates a new screen, user can choose from a list of templates. This is a great way the speed up the design process and I like this approach.

Business Logic
In order to specify business logic, code must be written, as specified below:

'Our goal with LightSwitch is to remove a lot of the “plumbing” work and instead allow you to concentrate on the core business logic of your application so that the code you write is exactly what you want to write and no more.'

Web applicationThe final web application is a Silverlight 4.0 application and can be hosted in a browser or a desktop application. I am baffled why Silverlight and not HTML 5.0?

Here is how the the final output looks like:

Friday 2 March 2012

Report Viewer Timeouts

Stadium has a Report Viewer control that allows a user  to view a report that is being hosted by Reporting Services.

The benefit of using Reporting Services Reports is that they are much more visually appealing, may contain graphs, and off various methods of exporting the data (Excel, PDF, CSV etc.) in an efficient manner.

Once you've uploaded the report on the Reporting Services Server and tested that it successfully generates you may find that the report still fails to generate from within Stadium with the error:

 "An error has occurred: Request timed out."

You have probably checked that the timeout values for both the SQL queries within the report as well as the timeout value on the Stadium's Report Viewer control are set to a sufficiently large number to prevent timeouts but you still get the error.

This error is occurring because the ASP.NET request to the Reporting Services Server is timing out. The 'ExecutionTimeout' setting in web.config can be changed/added to prevent this timeout.

The execution time-out refers to the number of seconds an ASP.NET page is given before the operation is assumed to have failed and the page terminated. In the example web.config file below the executionTimeout is set to one hour.

<httpRuntime executionTimeout="3600" />
<sessionState timeout="60" />

Stadium3 Release : 3.3.1960.4332

Build 3.3.1960.4332 is available for download. It includes:

Bug fixes
  • Unable to add column to child grid error
  • Index outside the bounds of array error when deleting a row in a grid
  • Javascript error when clicking on messagebox
  • TreeView's click event not fired when clicking on it more than once

Wednesday 22 February 2012

A More Desirable Stadium

We made the buttons on the screen look so good, you'll want to lick them. - Steve Jobs on Mac OS X's Aqua UI

There is a much-loved, widely-used (online and at conferences and the like) diagram called the User Experience  Honeycomb. It looks a bit like this:

User Experience Honeycomb

It was first drawn up by Peter Morville in 1994 in an attempt to illustrate the facets of user experience - and why it is important for product development teams (that's us!) to move beyond usability.

Throughout the course of its lifetime, Stadium has grown and improved in all of these aspects except one: desirability. Here, desirability refers to the image, branding and emotional design of Stadium. During Stadium user research, including usability testing and interviews, one of the most commonly voiced sentiments was that Stadium's applications looked outdated and, well, a bit less than desirable.

We decided that it was time for a change. We wanted to make Stadium applications, if not lickable, then at least attractive. We also wanted a solution that would not add to our implementers' workload. Their area of expertise is the design and implementation of business solutions. They should not be burdened with graphic design considerations. Therefore we decided that we would create complete, packaged themes that could be used as is.

The first themes we have implemented were determined by considering our biggest clients' branding and colour palettes.

And so, without further ado, here are a few glimpses of the four new themes for your perusal and hopefully, your enjoyment. We would love to hear from you, so please drop a comment and tell us what you think!

Default theme filter and grid
Forest theme filter and grid
Charcoal theme filter and grid
Burgundy theme filter and grid

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Stadium 4.0 Beta is ready!

Finally the day has come! Stadium 4.0 Beta(4.1.2047.4570)  is available for download. Stadium 4.0 Beta has the following:
  • A complete redesign of the user interface
We have focussed on improving the aesthetics of Stadium for this major release. This is simply because we believe 'attractive things work better'
and this latest redesign will go a long way in improving the user experience.
  • Upgrade to .Net framework 4.0
We have also upgraded from .Net framework 3.5 to framework 4.0 to take advantage of  the latest technological advances provided by Microsoft.

The focus of this release has been on the end user and has been quite an experience for the development and user experience teams. We have been focussed on this for past two months and it has been a huge team effort, a big thanks guys. Well done!

I am encouraging all Stadium users to download it and take it for a test drive. We are still at early stages so your feedback is needed! 

There will further posts regarding the design changes soon from our awesome user experience team.

Friday 27 January 2012

Case Study - Deposit exceptions

STADIUM is used at Allan Gray to identify and manage investment deposits made by their clients into Allan Gray bank accounts.

What is the deposit exceptions process?

When an Allan Gray client makes an investment, an investment instruction together with proof of payment is sent to Allan Gray. The Allan Gray back office staff process the investment and as part their compliance checks, then have to confirm that the investment amount stated has been received in Allan Gray's bank account.

The application provided in STADIUM allows users to match deposits. Users match deposits that are made into Allan Gray's bank accounts to a particular investor's transaction. The solution is called the 'Deposit Exceptions' process as it includes only deposits that could not be auto-reconciled by BankReconTwenty57's cash reconciliation product.

Allan Gray administrators typically know what deposits should be made based on investment applications that have been received. Users usually search for the deposit amount and ensure that the deposit is allocated to an investor.

This process will result in a deposit being allocated to a unit holder (or client) number. The deposit can then be reconciled by Finance during cash reconciliation using BankRecon.

Users: There are mainly three types of users who interact with the application:
  • Admin invest
  • Admin authorise
  • Finance group

Process flow

Deposit exceptions is a typical workflow process.

User in Admin Invest role will daily:
  • View Admin Invest screen to see list of transactions that have not been reconciled
  • Creates new service request on Siebel.  Siebel is Allan Gray's CRM system.
  • This service request would trigger a workflow in Siebel and it will get a unit holder number (UH number).  
  • Save service request number against corresponding transaction in STADIUM
  • Admin invest user then changes the status to indicate it needs to be reviewed by Admin authorise user.
User in Admin Authorise role will daily:
  • View Admin Authorise screen to see list of transactions that need authorisation
  • Unit holder number will be automatically updated by Siebel
  • User confirms all is in order, and changes status of transaction to indicate it is ready for recon
  • Transaction will be then be reconciled by BankRecon
User in Finance
  • Can perform all tasks typically carried out by Admin invest and Admin authorise users
  • Can also override statuses for transactions
  • Handle cases where the deposit cannot be identified and follow up with banks/investment company to get further information
In addition to this:
  • Audit records are maintained for each status change
  • Notes can be added by any user
Application size and scope
  • Total number of transactions: 250 000
  • Bank Accounts: 27
  • Active Users: 391
  • Average number of transactions per day: 160
  • Number of transactions processed on busiest day: 636
  • Number of STADIUM application pages: 42
About Allan Gray: Allan Gray is a South African investment management company. Allan Gray was a pioneer of performance related investment management fees and today the overwhelming majority of their clients’ assets are managed on this basis.