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De Voil Consulting's work for the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research (CCHPR) brought in De Voil Consulting for help with planning and executing a web-based database project for Dataspring, a unit within the CCHPR that is funded primarily by the Housing Corporation. Dataspring collates and analyses data on England's housing markets from a variety of sources.

Dataspring had created a number of in-house databases using Microsoft Access, which were used as the basis for research reports. They had also created a web site featuring downloadable documents.

The next objective was to create a dynamic, interactive website with an integrated database, allowing subscribers to design their own reports online.

De Voil Consulting helped Dataspring to identify the most appropriate project approach and technical platform, analysed staffing and training requirements and created an outline plan. The necessary skills were acquired through a combination of training, recruitment and mentoring.

During training needs analysis, it emerged that the most convenient and cost-effective option would be an in-house course provided by De Voil Consulting and delivered by an acknowledged expert in the technology. The course was tailored to the project requirements. Course evaluations were highly positive, including such comments as:
  • "Example code created during the three days will be very useful in creating our site"
  • "This course has covered everything we will need for the initial development of our site"
  • "We all really enjoyed the course"
During and after the project's development period, De Voil Consulting were on hand to provide expert advice on data analysis and database design, and to give ongoing mentoring with aspects of web development.

"De Voil Consulting listened carefully to what we wanted to achieve and helped us to meet our objectives within the planned budget and on time. We particularly wanted to develop in-house skills and the tailor-made training course, together with the friendly support and advice we received throughout, allowed us to do so" said Wendy Solomou, Research Associate at Dataspring.

"Quite apart from the fact that Dataspring are a pleasure to work with, this project was a great opportunity for us to demonstrate the breadth of our services," said Nick de Voil, Director of De Voil Consulting. "Project planning, advising on database design, training, even web hosting - it's been a complete support package. At the same time, it's all been about skills transfer and letting the customer keep control of the project."
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