Fronde

From mountains of paper to electronic submission, distribution and assessment, the new web-based system delivered by Fronde lowered costs and increased efficiency - allowing the Tertiary Education Commission to focus on what it does best - allocating funds to deserving research in New Zealand.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is the crown entity responsible for managing the Government’s approximate $3 billion annual funding for the sector. In conjunction with Fronde, it recently solved a logistical challenge, the kind that countless businesses grapple with constantly.

Every six years, the Performance Based Research Fund Quality Evaluation round involves the assessment of research-based activity and results in millions of dollars of funding that goes to tertiary education organisations. This requires evaluation by 300 assessors spread around the globe.

In 2006 that evaluation involved a paper mountain of Amazonian proportions as 4,300 portfolios, each about 16 pages (68,000 pages) with tens of thousands of pages of associated documents to be sorted, copied, packaged, couriered and tracked. That was just the outbound part of the process.

Fast forward to today and the TEC, in collaboration with Fronde, has digitised the whole process. What previously required an entire floor of an office building, with 24 staff, forests of paper and mountains of headaches has been turned into a bonsai-sized project with a fraction of the staff and an efficient online system that handles both the submission and assessment sides of the project.

With the objectives met and surpassed, the TEC’s standing within the sector increased and allowed them to focus on doing what they do best - ensuring the allocation of funds to deserving research in New Zealand.

“The project and client support teams were amazing - almost always several steps ahead of us and provided fantastic customer service and support. They put in every effort so that we had full confidence in Fronde."

- Amber Flynn, Programme Manager for the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) 2012 Quality Evaluation at the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

The Solution

Electronic submission and distribution of evidence portfolios, with online assessment and moderation.

The backbone of the application was built upon SQL server 2008 R2 as the database solution and Entity Framework 4.1 as the Object/Relational Mapping framework to aid rapid development. This combined with ASP .Net 4.0 (MVP) and the Telerik controls library allowed the Fronde team to design and develop rich user interfaces.

Technical Snapshot

  • ASP.Net 4.0 MVP
  • LINQ to Entities
  • Entity Framework 4.1
  • Visual Studio 2010 + SQL Server 2008 R2
  • Telerik Controls + Microsoft Enterprise Library 5.0
  • AJAX and JQuery 7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 and IIS 7.5
  • Windows Secure FTP

The web-based system allowed the TEC to have one person managing the entire process; using only a desk and a few courier bags, the solution reduced costs of photocopying, postage and resource costs - 1 vs 12! The highlight of this project was the goodwill achieved by a fast, efficient and user-friendly system.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is the Crown Entity responsible for managing the Government’s approximate $3 billion annual funding for tertiary education in New Zealand.

TEC administers the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) Quality Evaluation - a complex assessment conducted by panels of experts from around the world. This ensures that funds are allocated based on the quality of the research, rewarding and encouraging research excellence in New Zealand.

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