They put the Convenience in Convenience Stores
If you have ever filled up a car, bought a snack on a long road trip, or made a late night run for some milk; most likely, you have visited a convience store using Conexxus based standards. Conexxus.org, the technology arm of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), develops standards and best practices for approximately 129 member organizations around the globe. Card brands, payment processors, consumer packaged goods (CPG) vendors, point of sale, gas pump, car wash, and electronic sign equipment manufacturers, major oils, and convience store retailers. We can thank them for ensuring that our credit cards are processed safely at the gas pump, our data is private and secure, or solving other unique technology challenges for the convenience and petroleum industry.
Rebranding the Standard
Conexxus was known as “PCATS,” at the time they signed with Simple Information (SI) in the summer of 2013. PCATS had just started a complete rebranding, changing from PCATS (Petroleum Convenience Alliance for Technology Standards) to the new name and brand, Conexxus. With the change Conexxus needed to upgrade their current Drupal 6 (D6) site to Drupal 7 (D7). This was not to be a simple task. The D6 site was highly customized to manage thousands of working files and standards created by working committees located all over the globe. The site had a custom built interface integrated with SVN for managing file versions, a complex notifications system to alert committee members when standards/files were updated, and a custom meetings management system that integrated with meeting minutes and notifications. Because the system had been highly customized, Conexxus staff found it very difficult to make even basic configuration changes. And for this reason requested that the new site use only “off the shelf” Drupal modules.
SI to the Rescue
To begin, SI had to thoroughly analyze the old site and find Drupal contributed modules (open source) to replace thousands of custom coded options. A major task was deciding how to replace the custom developed document management system that integrated with SVN. Another request was to abolish the need for SVN all together since SVN required the use of fat clients (locally installed software). This new system would have to manage thousands of files and standards including all versions of each file/standard. A workflow process where group contributors could create content as a draft before releasing to other group members was also required. Their system would also need to send notifications to users depending on their working group, allow them to publish content only to their group, and restrict the files and data to within the groups.
Connecting the Dots
SI started by building a comprehensive outline of the current processes and mapping them to standard Drupal functionality available via either core or release contributed modules. This task was daunting, but SI was able to match each function with at least one of Drupal thousands of modules. Drupal, with its scalable framework that can handle massive amounts of content, including files, turned out to be an ideal platform to build the required document management system. Each file is assigned to a Drupal node with all of its versions attached.
Without a Hitch.
Finally, launch day. Conexxus would be introducing the new site, as well as the new brand, at their annual conference. The Conexxus annual conference was to align directly with the site going live: there was no room for mistakes. Once in use, hundreds of business leaders, including CIO's, CTO's, and CEO's would be logging their meetings, uploading new versions of draft documents for standards, and deciding on new benchmarks for stores coast-to-coast.
SI built an effective solution
On the day of the announcement the site reached elevated traffic levels while members checked out the new goods. SI helped Conexxus representatives with user inquiries and last minute tweaks. Conexxus was able to complete their conference with a successful go-live and continues to work with SI on phase II projects and features.
A summary of the Solution:
- 100% web based (replace SVN fat clients)
- Easy to use
- Utilizes free, off-the-shelf Drupal contributed Modules
- Built completely on open source technology
- Effectively Priced