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RAL Space's Resource Planning System

A user friendly, bespoke, integrated Business Application

With 200 staff working on over 100 live projects each generating Terabytes of information stored in a centralised Oracle database, RAL Space needed an integrated, easy to use Resource Planning system. A system able to quickly enable project analysis, capacity planning and budget control - it was a serious challenge that needed a serious solution. The development of the project that became known as PRISM (PRoject Information System for Management) was developed by 3chillies. 



Project Challenges


RAL Space is at the forefront of UK research driving forward world-class space research and technology development projects. Their expertise covers a wide range of disciplines from astronomy and solar physics, through to earth observation and radio propagation with engineering programmes including space electronics, mechanical engineering and e-Science.

In processing this information, RAL Space knew that a significant amount of time was being spent on sorting and analysing project reports. The main hurdle was the format of the information which was essentially raw data. An in-house spreadsheet based database was used to store and manipulate information, but it was not easily accessible by the different management levels, or designed with a general user interface. This approach placed additional pressure on individual project managers who, faced with limited and unwieldy reporting, were unable to accurately assess project status.

RAL Space defined the requirements for a Resource Planning system around key operational factors:

  • Integrate with and extract information from Oracle
  • Easy to use by different management levels from Project Managers through to senior management
  • Ability to handle large amounts of data
  • Fast, flexible, easy to read graphical reports

3chillies Solution


RAL Space met with 3chillies in 2012 to discuss the development of a resource planning application. In outlining the project with the 3chillies team it became clear that the same resource planning could be extended to become a more flexible and informative project planning tool. It was this collaborative approach that made Graham Toplis, Head of RAL Space Business Operations, select 3chillies to develop the new project management application.

The project developed from Resource Planning into a fully functional Project Management application, defined as the PRoject Information System for Management or PRISM, tailored specifically to meet the requirement to extend the initial resource planning functionality to provide:

  • The ability to run what-if reporting for project analysis
  • Fast reporting to measure project progress against time and budget
  • Straightforward User Interface providing access for Project Managers
  • Live budget viewing and analysis

PRISM was developed with a SQL Server database utilising a bespoke ASP.Net user interface and management console. Existing data is dynamically retrieved from the Oracle project database and updates the SQL Server in real-time to ensure any analysis and reporting carried out utilises the most up to date and current situational information.

The development of PRISM revolved around initially ensuring that all data manipulation already implemented in the spreadsheet database was replicated. Enhancements were added and the system was prototyped with RAL Space to assess usability and information access and reporting.

The key element to usability and accessibility of PRISM was the development by 3chillies of a web based portal providing delivery or project information to any approved Project Manager or member of staff easily and from any device. Accessing information via a browser ensured that user training was kept to a minimum with the intuitive, tailored approach using RAL Space terms of reference.

PRISM brought with it significant project modelling enabling fast allocation of resources and the ability to easily and quickly measure project success and impact.

Implementation of PRISM was required across multiple departments with different requirements. By using remote VPN management, 3chillies were able to install and configure access during non-critical time slots.

The system is managed through RAL Space internal resources for user training and first line support, with on-going maintenance and modifications handled by 3chillies.

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