About Travel Support Program management application¶
There are two possible questions regarding the 'who'. The first one is: who is developing it? The answer is that this application is another open project from the openSUSE team at SUSE Linux, what means that development is open to everybody who wants to contribute or fork.
The second question is who is intended to use it. There are four different user profiles or roles commonly involved in travel support programs:
- Requesters, that is, every open source contributor applying for support in order to assist to an event.
- Travel Support Program Committee members. In most free software organizations there is a group of people that must evaluate every request to decide how much money, if any, should the requester have reimbursed.
- Administrative or accounting responsible. After the Committee have approved a a reimbursement it usually goes through some kind of financial circuit before the requester gets the money, so somebody have to be in charge of managing such process.
- Supervisors for the whole process, like the organization boards or enterprise sponsors.
Basically, at the moment of writing the application manages two main use cases: the request of a new sponsorship for a given event and the reimbursement process which takes place just after the event ends.
The workflow of the first case is presented in the following diagram. The requester asks for support detailing the total estimated cost of every involved expense and the TSP Committee can approve a given amount for every expense. Finally, the explicit requester's acceptance is required
Once the requester have attended to the event, he/she must provide some reports in order to get access to the reimbursement, including digitized copies of invoices for every expense. Once again, this reports are validated and approved by the Committee. After this validation, the reimbursement must be verified by the accounting responsible before the payment order can be issued.
For obvious reasons, requests should be accepted before the event starts. Usually there is a maximum period of time for reimbursements after the event have finished. Requests and reimbursements exceeding those time limits could be canceled.
Well, the goal of travel support programs is, precisely, to reduce the impact of physical and economic barriers. So the answer to the 'where' question should be: all over the world by means of Internet!
The main reason for developing a new application for an already working process or workflow is usually the same: the need of a closer control in order to have a better feedback about the process status and better reporting capabilities.
The application should enhance the process from the points of view of all involved people, not only providing up to date information about the status of every request and reimbursement process, but also sending mail notifications everytime something which requires some action happens and sending mail reminder to the involved people if a particular request or reimbursement gets stuck in the same status for too much time.
From a more general point of view, the application should allow better management of the travel support program, both from an operative and from an economic point of view. A fully structured information system can provide good automatically generated reports and allows both the travel support program responsible and the supervisors to set fixed or approximate budgets per period or per event, well as minimum warranted available amounts or as maximum limits.
In order to allow this control options, the events have a central role in the application, being the point of entry for the whole process. Selecting an event (or introducing all the information if it does not exists yet) is the first stage for every subsequent action. Gathering complete information about the events involved in the program is also an important goal for the project.
The goal of this application is to fulfill all the requirements while providing the following features:
- Full functionality available through web interface and through a REST json API.
- Themeable and responsive web interface based on Bootstrap.
- Flexible user system with pluggable backends (so the application can be integrated in previously existing users infrastructures) based on Devise.
- Robust control over information access and full log of information modifications.
- Fully documented with information automatically generated from the source code (diagrams, API documentation, etc.)
- Good tests coverage.