Blender for CARE

Wood for Trees already had an established working relationship with Diabetes UK, having carried out a range of analysis projects and a successful FastStats database build and installation. We introduced them to our data integration software tool, Blender, and collaborated to develop and install a solution that resulted in significant improvements, savings and efficiencies in the charity’s key data flows.

The Problem

Diabetes UK was experiencing issues with incoming data streams; when we started talking to them about this issue they were already quite well advanced in building their own in-house software solution – which however was proving costly and non-scalable. After an overview presentation and demo, they evaluated Blender in parallel with their own development, to see whether the tool performed against their requirements in the real world. However, if Blender was to present a serious alternative, a convincing proof of concept was required ‘yesterday’. The timing was crucial: another month or so invested in their own solution would have made it impossible to justify changing course to Blender at such an advanced stage.

The Solution

The Diabetes UK supporter database is built in CARE, an environment within which Wood for Trees had already built successful Blender implementations, hosted on Microsoft SQL Server. The Diabetes UK CARE database was hosted on an Oracle platform, which required some configuration of the matching processes within the proposed solution to ensure all functionality was available for the evaluation period. Despite this additional hurdle, the proof of concept test was set up and successfully run within a few days. Over the following month test loads were run; at the end of the proof of concept period, Diabetes UK agreed to halt development of their own system and invest in the Blender option.

Results

From initial enquiry right through to the build and completed installation the emphasis has been on speed, accuracy and cost-effectiveness. The project delivered on all three, enhancing data accuracy and delivering considerable savings in time and investment by automating routines that previously had to be undertaken with significant manual input.

Conclusions

As well as delivering a timely and effective solution, Wood for Trees was able to customise the Blender solution to include specific functionality that Diabetes UK required. A particular data feed required processing that the standard CARE importer couldn’t deal with, but which formed an important part of some of the efficiencies that Diabetes UK were looking to achieve. We worked with the team at Diabetes UK to design a solution whereby the incoming data was processed and then written directly to the relevant database tables by Blender (rather than utilising the CARE loader) – the only way the requirements of this particular data feed could be dealt with. Francis Yeo, Head of Information Technology at Diabetes UK, said:

“Blender has provided us with a cost-effective and scalable data loading solution, allowing us to reallocate valuable resources to more technical endeavours.”