Students build network portfolio system

Three Auckland University students put together a new system for Vector as part of their course work

Vector, the energy and distributor that also owns fibre-optic networks in Auckland and Wellington, has developed a network portfolio system in cooperation with Auckland University’s School of Information Systems.

The project was a part of the university course Infosys 340, which places IS students on work experience.

The portfolio system, called NIF (Network Investment Framework), was developed by three students who were supervised by managers at Vector.

“The NIF helps us in many ways,” says Vector business information manager Gareth Williams. “It saves time, it’s user-friendly, it’s available to multiple users at the same time and it gives detailed summaries of projects and portfolios.”

NIF supports Vector’s project investment decisions and prioritises projects using seven criteria.

The previous system collected all data on a huge spreadsheet and Williams says it was hard to get a thorough overview from the spreadsheet. It was difficult to maintain and only one person could use it at a time.

“The spreadsheet was never intended to be a permanent solution,” he says.

The students, Allee Zhang, Wayne Chung and Leon Loo, built the system from scratch. They developed the model themselves, coming up with several of their own ideas of how to structure the framework. Williams says he didn’t have to spend much time supervising the project.

The NIF system operates as a desktop application with web-based components. The students also developed an online tutorial guide to make the system easy to use.

NIF was developed in six months and was ready to go in October. Zhang, Chung and Loo finished Infosys 340 as top students; their project was ranked as number one of all projects in the programme.

They all agree that the project gave them significant work experience.

“The project gave us the chance to bring our knowledge from the university and take it to the real world. Applying that knowledge to the business and actually dealing with clients was a great experience,” says Allee Zhang.

Wayne Chung is now employed by Vector to maintain and further develop the system.

The companies that participate in Infosys 340 get the students’ work for free but make a donation to the university in return. Any intellectual property resulting from the projects belongs to the companies.

Hewlett-Packard and Vista were also among the other companies that took part in the Infosys 340 programme last year.

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