to about 40 summer school principals, but the team had no plan to deploy and train the other 200 principals. This left the summer school team considering whether to print and distribute daily registration reports for all schools, until IWG realized there was a better solution -- developing a very simple Web application that invoked a service on the webMethods platform. The summer school team sent the application's URL to all principals via e-mail. The principals could then log in at any time to see which students were enrolled.

This effort highlighted the potential for Web services, and IWG developed the application in a matter of days. It filled a critical need that was not best satisfied via a major application, and it required no training. Though FCPS operates many applications, there are also many gaps, which Web services can effectively fill.

Integration Is Just the Start

Implementation of the new integration architecture in support of the summer school application was a major stride forward, but there is still much to do. IWG is pursuing the other seven integration projects, but their goal is to go much further.

FCPS uses about 700 varieties of forms, of which it distributes about 9,000,000 per year. Though many of these forms are available online, their processing constitutes a significant manual effort.

IWG's long-term goal is to automate the business processes embodied in these forms. Furthermore, they will tie these forms and process into the back-end systems using webMethods Workflow. Achieving this goal requires an effectively integrated application environment.

There may be much work ahead, but the prospects are excellent.

Ted Davis is the Director of Knowledge Asset Management in the Department of Information Technology at Fairfax County Public Schools. His office is responsible for the enterprise information systems that run FCPS. His office is also responsible for paper records, including paper forms. He can be reached at E-mail.