BluegemEXPLORE Road Map 2012

Overview

BluegemEXPLORE has continuously evolved since we commenced R&D on the product in 2004. Each year has brought new or improved features, bug fixes, compliance and technology updates. Since that time, the product has migrated from what was essentially a Lessons Learned Database (Captured Learning system) to a fully-compliant Student Management System meeting all the regulatory requirements stipulated by the Department of Education and Training. We have added SCORM compliant eLearning, Resource Planning and Document Management features to name but a few enhancements.

Our product is unique in the market in that it contains the features and integration points required by medium to large enterprises involved in training delivery. We are the only Microsoft ISV Software Solutions Partners providing a complete VET-compliant Student Management Software system.

In the period 2012 to 2014, Bluegem expects to continue the trend of improvement and innovation, while ensuring relevance and fitness-for-purpose to Training Organisations in the VET Sector. In the coming two years, we have identified 4 key areas that impact usability, reliability, performance and maintainability. They are:

  • Compliance
  • Technology
  • Modularity and Interoperability
  • Support

Compliance

In the training context, compliance means ensuring that BluegemEXPLORE continues to provide the necessary tools and features allowing Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to:

Conform to national guidelines as determined by the industry bodies and regulators, e.g. Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF).
Keep training courses, qualifications and units of competency up-to-date in accordance with the training package updates provided by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).
Report training activity at State and National levels in accordance with the Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical System (AVETMISS) or Resource Allocation Program for Training (RAPT) in WA in the formats required by these standards.
Present data in the formats required for publicly funded courses in order that clients can easily comply and obtain funding.

Bluegem continually monitors changes and implement software updates so clients can transition easily through modifications in compliance standards, training packages and quality guidelines. The move towards nationalised reporting, expected to be fully implemented in 2014, will continue to drive change in this area.

Technology

We anticipate that the move to provide more responsive web applications will grow exponentially over the next 5 years. The trend is to provide an online experience more akin to that expected from desktop applications to:

  • Enhance user experience
  • Provide improved performance
  • Run efficiently on multiple devices
  • Interact with other applications

New technologies such as

  • HTML 5
  • CSS 3
  • JQuery
  • MVC 4
  • .NET 4.5 (this is currently in beta)

Will continue to be adopted by Bluegem when developing software

In a nutshell the benefits of these technology upgrades will be improved user experience, better performance and greater agility when responding to UI change requests.

Bluegem’s plan is to take a two stage approach over the next two years. In the first year (2012/2013) we will successively upgrade technology in areas of the product that are being maintained for other reasons, e.g. compliance. Towards the middle of the second year (June 2014), we plan to refresh any existing technology with the new technologies described above. At this point, we will also refactor the software and database to ensure optimal performance, reliability, security and maintainability.

Security Authentication and Authorisation

Technology is always challenging, requiring Bluegem to implement best practice solutions so users can access sites securely without compromising usability and convenience. One change is the growing demand from users for Single-Sign-On (SSO).

SSO ensures that interconnected websites and web applications allow users to move from one environment to another without needing to sign-in with different details. Bluegem plans to provide greater flexibility in this area over the next 2 years.

Modularity and Interoperability

Experience gathered since 2004 shows that our product needs to be more modular. At present, it is expensive for our clients to access specific features without having to upgrade to a more expensive product version, even if many of the features in the more expensive version are not required.

Bluegem plans to break up the product into modules that can be purchased independently within an inclusive product variant. This approach will allow clients to purchase specific modules as needed. We don’t currently envisage many new features , but acknowledge that the grouping and packaging of features could be greatly improved by adopting this modular structure. Modularity or Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) introduces better options and more choice for our clients while providing a more maintainable and extensible platform for BluegemEXPLORE®.

Recent innovations in Object Relational Mapping (ORM) and Web Services make it easier to split large databases into Domains that can drive independent but connected enterprise applications. This facilitates better change management and ultimately increased value to our clients, particularly to our enterprise clients where customisation and interoperability with existing line-of-business systems is generally required.

Support

Bluegem believes that providing the right support tools and services is critical to the overall user experience of our product. To that end, we plan to improve and centralise access to important tools and services required by our clients.

BluegemEXPLORE already has a support website and a ticketed help desk system (BluegemRESOLVE®). In the first half of 2012, we plan to combine these tools into a central website that can be accessed externally or from within the product’s admin portal. The tools will be further improved to provide:

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs),
  • Help Video Gallery,
  • Ticketed Help Desk,
  • Live Chat,
  • Monitored Forums,
  • Online Manuals,
  • Ecommerce Store,
  • Blogs,
  • How-To aids,
  • Training and Service Requests,
  • Onsite visit request and
  • Management reports.

The website will promote convenient self-help while at the same time making it easier and more efficient to access one-on-one support and training.

Summary

At Bluegem we are incredibly excited about the future of BluegemEXPLORE® TMS. The technology and compliance challenges, together with the continuous flow of excellent feedback and suggestions collected from our clients are the fuel that drives success. Our motivated team of expert developers and support staff are poised and ready to deliver on these ambitious goals for a continuously improving product that will help our clients deliver the best possible outcomes for the industry. We are proud to be associated with the Training sector, and the bigger goal of up skilling and improving opportunities for an evolving Australian workforce.

About the Author

Bruno Cozzi has been the Managing Director of Bluegem Software since the company was first incorporated in 1991. He has been involved in the provision of software solutions to the Training and Education industry since 1998. Cozzi has spoken at several industry conferences, delivered many presentations and contributes to a regular blog presenting technology solutions for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

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