Procurement Measurement Assessment Tool

The first incarnation of this website was built sometime back in early 2000 and while it provided the Office of Senior Procurement Executive with the tools necessary to produce and conduct their annual survey it lacked any flexibility. We were approached in early second quarter of 2004 to renew the application, give it a new look and feel and also improve the flexibility of the system. The old system only permitted reporting on ten questions and they wanted us to remove that restriction and allow them to change it from year to year without any additional programming. In other words produce a more dynamic survey tool.

Another aspect of the system was the so called optional or unique questions that each agency participating in the survey could ask their survey takers. The old system did not produce reports for these optional questions and so it was left up to the agencies to produce their own reports from the data.

The biggest challenge was by far producing a database design that would permit the creation of a number of different styled questions limited only to the imagination of the user and then storing and later producing meaningful reports from the answers. I chose to use a single database column to store the results of a question, the style of the question would tell me how many values I should expect in the answer and I chose to delimit the answers with a semi-colon. It worked perfectly, I had no trouble capturing the answers to questions with up to ten possible results.

The next step was to create meaningful reports on the captured results. That turned out to be whole new challenge which forced me to become very familiar with T-SQL (Microsoft SQL Server procedural query language). The answers contained in the answer column were useless as they were, I would have to first group the results by question type. When the question was created the number of columns used was stored along with the question this would provide me with a map to make sense of the answers and allow me to parse the answers and build a dynamic report that would account for different question types.

The new system was completed two weeks prior to November 1st to provide a week of solid testing and bug fixes and went live without incident on November 1st right on schedule.

Several weeks after the end of the survey period my manager forwarded me the following email:

"We are very pleased with the effort and work Gary Gilbert has done on the DOT Procurement Management Assessment Tool (PMAT). Gary's work ethics are exceptional and the end product shows his time, effort and professionalism.

We were very late in getting the final requirements to GD and Gary, but he took a "can do" attitude and immediately began developing a whole new system for our survey process. He worked as a team with us in putting together something all of our 10 Operating Administration (OAs) could effective use on November 1, 2004. We have concluded our surveys and the participation of employees and customers has greatly increased this year.

Gary has made the PMAT system easy for our OA Administrates to enter, develop or modify questions and track results. This was done with a willingness to listen to our needs, describe our alternatives and then execute.

Gary has shown humor, an openness to learn, and a willingness to be a team player. These are all special skills that make working with Gary a pleasure. Gary's skills as a programmer are rare. He knows his expertise so well that he can simplify it for the novice.

I hope GD will take time to recognize such an exceptional professional."

It isn't often that a customer will take the time to thank you for your work in such a manner but when it happens it really give me a sense of accomplishment and pride in being able to have worked with them to give them what they wanted.