Over the past month, I embarked on a thrilling solo project: the development of a Sacco Management System. This journey involved meticulous planning, coding, and continuous refinement. In this blog post, I’ll delve into the major steps I undertook to transform this idea into a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
Project Proposal: Defining the Vision
The journey began with a crucial step: drafting a comprehensive project proposal. This document outlined the project’s objectives, the technology stack to be employed, anticipated risks, an analysis of existing solutions, and the challenges we expected to encounter.
Upon scrutinizing existing solutions, it became apparent that they lacked certain essential features that needed addressing. One of the primary motivations behind this project was to align the web application with the internal processes of modern Saccos. Many existing solutions seemed outdated, burdened with unnecessary features, or simply obsolete. Our goal was to create a solution that harnessed the power of contemporary technologies and streamlined operations. Most of the solutions are the traditional desktop application systems. Reimplementing the system was the key to integrating the latest advancements effectively.
Data Models: Blueprinting the MVP
In the current MVP, I devised five fundamental tables to model the core aspects of the Sacco Management System:
To provide a visual overview of these data models, refer to the figure below:
As depicted in the diagram, a one-to-many relationship exists between the Members table and the other tables (Accounts, Documents, and Transactions). Similarly, the relationship between Accounts and Transactions is also one-to-many.
Back-end Magic: Python3
For the backend of our web application, I chose Python3. Its rich ecosystem, extensive libraries, and developer-friendly features make it an ideal choice. Additionally, Python3’s flexibility opens the door to future expansion, including the integration of mobile applications and more web-based functionalities.
Python3 also simplified the creation of database classes, streamlining the development process.
Database Management: MySQL
To store and manage our data, I opted for the MySQL database management system. Its widespread use, like Python3, ensures ample community support. My extensive experience with MySQL made working with the database straightforward, expediting the development process.
To facilitate database operations and simplify interaction with the database, I implemented SQLAlchemy as our Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) tool. Its comprehensive set of features made it an excellent choice for handling Create, Read, Update, and Delete (CRUD) operations seamlessly.
Flask: The Web Application Engine
To transform our project into a functioning web application, I created an app.py file, the heart of our application. Flask, a lightweight web application framework, was instrumental in routing and managing data between the backend and frontend.
Fetching information from the database and displaying it on the web pages became remarkably straightforward thanks to Flask’s intuitive capabilities.
Web Dynamics: Crafting the User Experience
To welcome users and introduce them to our system, I designed multiple templates, with ‘index.html’ serving as our landing page. This page provides an overview of the system’s major components and functionalities, ensuring a smooth onboarding experience for new users.
Other essential pages, such as ‘about-us.html,’ ‘contact.html,’ ‘header.html,’ and ‘footer.html,’ were created to enhance the user experience and provide easy navigation.
Within the ‘templates’ folder, I established a ‘dashboard’ directory housing templates that display various types of information and data. These templates empower users to perform a myriad of tasks, including viewing all members in the database, accessing recent transaction histories, exploring accounts, and managing loans.
Administrators, in particular, have the power to create new members, establish accounts for new users, grant loans, generate reports, and conduct other essential activities.
The journey from a project proposal to a functional MVP of a Sacco Management Web Application has been both exhilarating and enlightening. Throughout this process, I’ve not only developed a valuable software solution but also gained invaluable insights into project planning, software development, and the importance of aligning technology with real-world needs.
Stay tuned for future updates as we continue to refine and expand this project into a fully-fledged Sacco Management System. Building something from scratch may seem daunting, but with the right tools, dedication, and a clear vision, it becomes a rewarding journey towards success.