This paper describes the development of a prototype facility and equipment management/booking system as a case study.
Facilities' management is often difficult within universities, especially when competing interest groups lay claim to the same resources simultaneously. The Faculty of Arts at Southern Cross University operates a number of specialised workspaces used in its teaching programs in contemporary music, visual arts and media. A system of qualified after-hours access operates which allows students to access these facilities for most of the day. The practical nature of the courses means that a number of students require guarantied access to the facilities. In the past this access was managed by a paper-based booking system. However, it was possible for students to access the books and alter existing bookings in their favour. Obviously this was not in the best interests of the faculty: a better solution was needed.
The author was commissioned to develop a computer-based booking system to handle all bookings for all facilities and equipment operated by the faculty. It was decided to use iterative prototyping given the large scope of the problem domain. Hypercard was chosen as the development environment as the faculty uses Macintosh computers within most of its operations. Small areas of the problem domain were modelled and implemented to determine actual requirements. User feedback via fault reports and maintenance requests was used to improve the models. Significant for the development is the technical staff's overwhelming support for the concept of the system and a belief that the long-term educational outcomes would far outweigh the short-term inconveniences caused by the short mean-time-to-failure built into the development methodology.
A brief analysis of system use over the last twelve months of development will be presented, as will a demonstration of the system.