my messages on the right please (i)

Cambridgeshire Music
Music Services Management for Cambridgeshire

As part of Cambridge County Council, Cambridgeshire Music delivers educational music services across the county


I was initially asked to build an online system for Cambridgeshire Music circa 2008. I don't remember the exact date, but I do remember some of the circumstances. The short version is that the Council had a new database and Cambridgeshire Music wanted to use something else - something that better fitted their needs.

The system has evolved and grown over the years, but the core is pretty much the same as when I first designed it. Apart from all the usual Typomania stuff – CMS, database management system, modules for managing files, images, email delivery, and so on – there are bespoke modules for Account Holders (often Parents of Students), Tuition Staff, School Staff, and Council Staff. Each user group has different processes for ordering a variety of services, each of which can have a range of different charging protocols.

Up until a couple of years ago, these variations led to some some components becoming quite complicated, and as new options were added and features extended, the process of finding and fixing relatedly minor issues gradually became a game of whac-a-mole set in a labyrinth.

Sometime in 2021 I began to develop a new version of the system based around giving each user group their own sub domain. This allowed me to separate the login processes, routing logic and data handling for each group. There's still only one core database, but the system each group interacts with now only loads code relevant to them, and the code itself is more organised which means maintaining, upgrading and extending any of it is now pretty quick and easy.

The project would probably never have happened if what it has become had been fully scoped at its inception. Public sector procurement managers are often averse to hiring individual IT superheroes to deliver business critical digital processes. I don't agree with all of the rationale, but I get it, and after effectively subsidising a public body for 15 years, I'm quite pleased that the the project has emerged from a funding grey area, even though it probably means I need to find alternative employment. So if you know any one who's hiring...