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CHAPTER V Defining the System It is important that you understand what you want from the system as you define it. Are you primarily looking for a tool to effectively manage the information associated with right-of-way activities or are you looking for a digital work environment that captures and supports business processes? Are you completely redesigning a system or enhancing an existing system, such as adding geospatial capabilities? Are you expanding another agency system to incorporate right- of-way activities? Do you want to incorporate decision support tools? Does your office work on local desktop computers or on agency servers through the Internet/intranet? These questions should be answered when you define your requirements. Understanding these requirements in conjunction with how you want to meet them is the basis for actual design and development of the system. This chapter is designed to review different criteria and to provide guidance on how you can use the 8-55A logical model. Role of Workflow Management How work is performed in your office will provide important input to the design of your system. Factors to consider include: Does your state centralize its right-of-way activities or are they delegated to the regions with the central office providing oversight? Are right-of-way activities performed by staff, contractors, or a combination of both? What functions are performed in each area of your office? How do you manage workloads? How do you handle approvals? Do you have internal performance measures that need to be tracked and reported? Who responds to owners or people being relocated when they call? Who responds to the public? If you are considering a system that provides an electronic work environment, you will need to capture the business processes that are performed by each area in your office to ensure the same functionality is provided in the system. The 8-55A logical model includes the business processes identified from FHWA's Project Development Guide. Technical Architecture (Type of System) The specific architecture of the system will be determined based on your requirements, capabilities, and the type of system that you want. Whether you want a user-friendly ledger-entry type interface to a comprehensive enterprise database or a customized front-end to a system built on service-oriented architecture will define how the design moves forward. Regardless, you will 26

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Defining the System 27 want your system to be accessible, scalable, and reliable. Conceptually, the system will be composed of four logical components: user interface, application, data, and security. User Interface The user interface needs to be straightforward and understandable by each person for his/her own activities. Navigation between "pages" should be intuitive or easily learnable. Users should be able to get to the information they need easily in as few steps as possible. Application In the current technical environment, you will probably design the application to reside on a server that is then accessed remotely through the Internet/intranet. This structure typi- cally consists of a web server, a development server, an application server, and the database server. You should work with your IT department to define the structure that best meets your needs. The software residing on the web server manages connectivity and supports resource management--directly affecting system performance. This is extremely important for rapid access to the underlying databases and should be designed to accommodate the expected number of simultaneous database connections. The application server hosts the actual application and executes user processes and requests from client software. If you are doing the development in-house, you will want a development server separate from the application server. This is where you make changes to the software and test it prior to launching it onto the application server. After you have implemented the system, the development server is used for adding upgrades and correcting problems. Data The database server houses the database software as well as the data. In a distributed environment, the data may reside on multiple computers or servers throughout the agency, which are then usually managed by the database software from the server for specific applications. Security Security is important at several levels of the enterprise architecture including the network, the application, and the data. Security should be carefully implemented to protect your investment while meeting accessibility needs. Additional Considerations When defining the characteristics of your system, several factors are important to consider. Compatibility and scalability issues include the following: Internet/intranet accessibility including speed and connection types Firewalls and security management Use of copyrighted and proprietary data/files Data sharing capabilities, such as XML Validation of data entry Workflow management Wireless support