Case Study for Custom Software Development

Internal call center system redesign & PoC creation for Connected Car services

Tags: Connected Car, automotive industry, Infotainment, UX / UI design

Customer

The Connected Car department of one of the automobile manufactures.

Objective

The system of the customer is quite big and operated all over the world, and being in use for 5+ years naturally it has seen many enhancements in functionality and UI, and thus as the result, in some parts the experience with the application has become too cumbersome and not quick enough.

The goal of the project encompasses redesign of the current internal call center system for Connected Car services and creation of a working prototype of a part of the internal call-center system.

The outcome shall be UX concept for the defined stories in the form of mock-ups and user-stories, and a working HTML prototype to showcase application to the internal stakeholders.

Solution

Based on the initial discussion and references, the Customer invited Altabel Group to participate in the tender as a point to start off the cooperation. To qualify as a tenderer and as a part of the offer, Altabel Group proved: experience with Agile development approach; meaningful references in the implementation of similar projects (in terms of size, complexity, domain) & in projects done for the automotive industry (including UX/UI & extensive custom back office solutions); knowledge of the business and technical environment; UX/UI design experience including UX workshops and surveys conduction; solid responsive design expertise; significant project management and analytics experience with established practices, etc.

After being nominated for the project, Altabel Group’s representatives visited the Customer at their premises for a kick-of meeting to discuss and set up sprint-by-sprint scopes and timelines as well as to get introduced in person.

Agile approach with two-week sprints has been applied to the project. After each sprint a review meeting is conducted to present the results of work; the sprint deliverables (code, docs, etc) are provided for acceptance.

For the Project Altabel Group set up the team of a UX/UI designer & Business Analyst, a html-coder / JavaScript developer, a PHP developer and a QA specialist. From the Client’s side there were engaged a Project Manager, call-centers’ heads and agents.

Briefly about the system: the 24/7 ‘personal assistant’ service connects a driver by phone to a dedicated call center where call center agents can help with a wide range of information or related service, and send location-based suggestions directly to a car’s navigation system. The system acts as a web based event-driven application integrating services from different partners connected via predefined interfaces and providing them to the call center agent who delivers the service to the customer.

The project has included two epics: UX/UI consulting & Proof-of-Concept implementation.

During Epic 1 (UX/UI consulting), while conducting the research for redesign, the agents of various geography were polled (with a questionnaire and on conf-calls) to collect knowledge about common workflows and shortcomings in agents’ daily work routine; their comments were analyzed, and based on this the scope for each story redesign was discussed with the call-center’s leads and the Client’s PM and finalized. Some stories came through a couple of iterations. As Epic 1 results, the user-stories and redesign mock-ups were created and delivered on time and in scope.

During Epic 2 (HTML prototyping) the redesign was prototyped – as the result, the working prototype without integration into the service backend but with Google Places API integration was delivered on time and in scope, and deployed to the Сustomer’s environment.

Results

As the result, the project was implemented and delivered according to the agreed schedule and scope.

    The goal has been achieved, and the UI and UX have been improved in the following way:
  • more user-friendly thanks to the improved work flow: the sections have been re-grouped by tabs, the flow – made better structured and simplified;
  • more convenient for working with the system during many hours (improved for user’s eyes and attention): adopting fonts, adding “air” to some sections, blocks, etc, highlighting some sections, buttons, etc;
  • fresher and more up-to-date look & feel: modern design components and practices have been applied;
  • alignment with the corporate style according to the style-guide: corporate font, color scheme, elements unification, etc.

The Customer’s stakeholders as well as the call centers’ agents have been satisfied with the redesign and prototype. After acceptance several additional, not so big changes have been requested. Now Altabel Group’s team is progressing with implementation of these CRs. The presentation of the prototype to the Customer’s dept managers is planned after the sprint is finished in order to demonstrate the results and discuss potential future cooperation.

Technologies & Tools

JavaScript, PHP, My SQL, Foundation, Google Places API, Photoshop, Vagrant, Jira, Confluence.

Organizations’ risk visualization, assessment and management tool

Tags: risk assessment, risk management, data visualization

Customer

A Norwegian startup aiming to provide new easy-to-use risk management solutions connecting risk owners and stakeholders globally through the cloud-based solution and services and making it quick and easy to manage threats and opportunities in all risk entities.

The founders have more than 15 years of experience and expert level in project & portfolio management, risk, opportunity & barrier assessment and management, ICT security, international patents, drilling automation.

Objective

Today a whole suite of different tools is required for barrier management, risk management, operational risk handling, visualization and collaboration – this means they are too limited and add low value as well as are not sufficiently user-friendly.

Being experts in risk assessment and management and having an idea how to fill in the gap in the area, the Client has decided to create a single, user-friendly, but sophisticated tool providing a 360 degree view of organization’s risk landscape: organizational, operational, financial, locational risks, or related to bow tie barriers. Importantly, the solution will simplify risk management by combining best practices from the industry with a patent-pending visualization concept, social interactions and cognitive technology.

The application targets at helping organizations to manage their risk entities in real time and evaluate them on a regular basis to keep an updated company-wide risk picture. To take control of every stage of the lifecycle risk owners are “equipped” with such product’s advantages as:

  • - real maps and bow ties in one common integrated tool,
  • - easy navigation of risk entities and filtering out of the right information in just one click,
  • - new area risks identification in real time,
  • - live prognoses to predict future risk levels.

  • Actually it’s assumed the tool would be a perfect fit with large factories or companies with many factories and operational risks, for example, in manufacturing, drilling, energy, oil & gas, automotive domains.

    Solution

    The Customer searched for a solid IT services vendor with proven track record in the Scandinavian market as well as aimed at Eastern Europe as outsourcing destination based on previous positive experience. Although they had already created the MVP design and web-site with one partner, the decision was taken to compare offers from a couple of companies to choose a proper vendor for the product development for long-term cooperation. The following criteria were set: indicative estimation and development plan, tech stack recommendations for MVP and full-featured product, strong highly-skilled team members and a possibility to ramp-up on demand, reasonable pricing, solid expertise in the area, best Agile practices application, expertise in working with start-ups, good feeling of communication and quick response time, references from clients.

    Based on the provided offer and materials as well as business & technical discussions, the Client has decided to work with Altabel Group and approved the suggested team members: Team Lead / senior Front-end developer, Back-end developer for MVP implementation. Within the first months it was planned to have face-to-face workshops in the dev office to provide the team with deeper insights into the domain, business logic and plan Agile sprints together.

    The project development started from scratch based on the preliminary wireframes from the previous team. According to Agile approach, each 2 weeks the team discusses with the Client the detailed scope for fortnight & priorities, as well as clarifies white spots or alternatives. At the end of each week the team presents a demo on a video-meeting.

    Actually the client’s ideas have evolved quite a lot even for MVP to improve UX, simplify interface & flow, advance visualization, enhance app’s performance in terms of localization, privatization. Thus, both parties have concurred that at the MVP stage the project would need highest and mutual attentiveness to scope and priorities and balancing it against budget and end clientele’s needs.

    Technology-wise, the core of the Client side application is a React + Redux stack, while Server application is based on Swagger and PostgreSQL. React allows to design reusable components that could easily be integrated in any place of the website. Redux implements Flux architecture, and in one stack with React it forms a very fast and stable application. Also in half a year the application migrated from MongoDB to a stronger database PostgreSQL to be ready to work with high-load data already at this stage, since the Customer was expecting some potential clients to try it out soon. For visualization D3.js library was chosen.

    Functionality-wise, the application is a modern risk-management system, and allows grouping risks in layers, building hierarchy tree of layers, sharing risks and layers between users and companies and granting limited access to specific users, roles and companies. The application has different ways to visualize risks and ratings, and it fulfils the following goals:

  • to provide a modern user interface to manage risks and layers,
  • to work with big amount of high-loaded operations,
  • to implement roles and permissions for layers and risks,
  • to provide different data-sets for users and companies,
  • to share risks and layers between users and companies,
  • to evaluate risk ratings,
  • to visualize data using tables, lists, maps, charts and trees,
  • to favoritize layers and risks,
  • to provide user-friendly interfaces for end-users and administrators.
  • Results

    The project is in progress, at the MVP stage and is being presented to first potential users, who are large companies, for a trial to get the initial feedback on the UX, patent-pending visualization concept & flow.

    Also not so long ago the Customer received a commercialization grant from Innovation Norway. The purpose of the grant is to trigger a process that will take the company from being a startup to becoming an established software developer and provider in the global market by giving a substantial economic freedom.

    In future the tool is going to be advanced with AI, as well as application of blockchain might be considered.

    Technologies & Tools

    NodeJS 8; React + Redux +Typescript, PostgreSQL; Express, Passport, Swagger, TypeORM; D3.js, Google Maps, Ant Design; Visual Studio Code, GIT, Jira.

    Next generation enterprise semantic search engine project for a Swiss Start-up company

    Customer

    The customer is an IT start-up from Switzerland specialized in enterprise search solutions and semantic technologies.

    Objective

    From the product's perspective the aim was to design a next generation technology to enable enterprises perform semantic search and analysis of heterogeneous and unstructured data and then efficiently organize, classify and turn it into smart content.For this project realization the client was searching for a dedicated team of innovative and highly-experienced JAVA developers who can enrich the project with their knowledge and expertise. Also the project start was planned very shortly.

    Solution

    The customer wanted 2-3 extremely experienced specialists to be assigned to their project, and Altabel preselected several candidates. The client decided to start from two dedicated team members and selected two candidatures based on CVs and interviews held; organizational and commercial discussions were conducted very promptly and the agreement was signed soon.

    The team of two Senior JAVA developers was set up to work on a dedicated basis. In the project Agile approach to development was broadly used, project management was on the customer's side. Communication and technical discussions were very active during the project and Altabel's team was always providing recommendations on implementation options and technologies to the customer. Visits to the client's and Altabel's premises were arranged to make the project progress even more aggressive and smooth.

    Upon joint work of the client and Altabel's team, the targeted enterprise solution was developed - an intuitive and user-friendly engine. It is cloud-based and indexes and integrates multiple data sources of raw content including cloud-based applications and consolidates information into one single place. The solution provides a bespoke set of semantic services: semantic indexing, FT & concept search, auto-categorization and related content. The engine is available as a standalone platform which can be accessed through web user interface; alternatively the solution natively supports enterprise portals such as Liferay or Magnolia. For custom integrations there is also a full featured REST API to plug the engine on any system within an organization.

    Results

    The dedicated team of highly experienced JAVA developers was set up for the client on a short notice, and the successful cooperation has lasted for almost 3 years and resulted in development of the next-generation powerful Enterprise Semantic Engine providing a unique and comprehensive set of semantic services. During the project Agile approach was religiously used. With their products, the customer has become a winner of RedHerring Europe, the Jury vote at SemTech, a finalist at TechCrunch50 and the IKS Semantic contest.

    Patients’ management software for healthcare organizations

    Customer

    The Norway-based medical information systems company which offers an ophthalmologic patient record system. The client is also a consulting company providing services in all phases of the systems development process, from analysis/specification to implementation and maintenance.

    Objective

    To support the current project and extend its functionality.

    Solution

    The project encompasses the patients’ management software for healthcare organizations. The system also keeps track of patient information, medication, ICD-10 diagnosis. It generates the medical notes from information captured from instruments, structured input and textual input from clinician personnel. Because of its structured database (Oracle) it is possible to get extensive medical reports from the system. It allows integration of communication to more than 20 refractive instruments, integration of perimetry and also gives access to perimetric and imaging information as well as the summary of a patient to the ophthalmologist.

    Apertura-EYE is the main product. It consists of three separate programs. Two programs, Apertura-Imaging and Apertura Perimetry, are made to collect information from imaging sources and perimeters.

    The Windows application was implemented using WPF and MVVM pattern. It displays data in a ListViews with the ability to filter, edit and update items. Infragistics charts were integrated to show historical patient’s data. The functionality for printing doctor’s documents uses predefined templates.

    The team is responsible for:

    • Requirements clarification, problem analysis
    • Implementing of GUI, UI modules performing viewing and editing data
    • Developing of Document templates using XAML, filling them with data
    • Rendering data from DB to the document templates
    • Additional development tasks

    Technologies and tools

    .NET Framework, WPF, WebAPI, WinServices, HL7

    Automated MRI data analysis system

    Customer

    The UK-based innovation driven and agile team, working in partnership with leading academics and clinical specialists and delivering the best medical imaging solutions and expert advice to ensure success of your clinical study.

    Objective

    To develop specialized software for automated Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) data analysis. The software package is to be used in clinical studies, imaging biomarkers research, clinical trials of inflammatory, cardio and neurologic diseases. The system provides information to accurately quantify treatment changes, categorize drug efficacy, and identify subgroups of patients.

    Solution

    While computerizing medical image analysis, this unique product distinguishes peculiar imaging biomarkers, thus accelerating the process of customary image interpretation.

    It aims at facilitating image analysis workflow seamlessly integrating with major Picture Archiving Systems. After analysis study results are converted into structured reports with images, notes and statistics.

    Brief functionality summary:

    • Single/network/cloud based application for both single imaging specialists and imaging departments
    • Highly scalable, web based infrastructure
    • Customizable functionality for image analysis and consequently payment
    • Customizable structured reports containing images, comments and statistics
    • Inter-user communication functionality
    • Toolboxes for 2D, 3D and 4D image analysis and biomarker scoring

    At the outset the cooperation negotiations started from discussing setting up a Dedicated Development Team for the Customer - the specialists who would be focused on the client’s project on a full-time dedicated basis. That was especially important since the client’s team core has housed doctors, researches and scientists, while in terms of software development with the course of time they would prefer to completely rely on a nearshore partner like Altabel Group.

    As a start point, the candidates for JAVA dev were preselected based on the provided requirements, and they passed interviews successfully. The contract was signed for 2 Senior JAVA back end and front end specialists.

    Down the road the team was strengthened with one more Senior JAVA developer as well as QA specialist and Project Coordinator. Additionally the talks have been about entitling even more architecture decisions to the nearshore team making their activities proactive in these terms. As the result, with such team composition recently the customer has been able to concentrate on the scientific research and product strategy development activities.

    Actually while currently the product is applicable partially in the PACS and subcontractors segments, in future it’s planned that the system will be evolving into a comprehensive platform covering the whole anatomy of a clinical trial, from Drug Supply, CRO / CSMO, Legal / Finance, Overall PM, etc, up to embedding Ontology workflow incorporating Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (IBM Watson / Google DeepMind, etc).

    For example, as the step during the course of the year, it’s expected to add a bunch of intelligence, data mining and text understanding. For this purpose the team is going to be enhanced with Big Data specialists with Machine Learning / AI skills as a plus.

    Technologies and tools

    Java 7, HTML5 / CSS3, GWTP, AngularJS, Node.js, Spring, Hibernate / JPA2, Oracle / PostgresSQL / Cassandra, Tomcat, PixelMed, Jenkins / TeamCity, JUnit, Mockito / PowerMock, Karma + PhantomJS, JSP, JasperReports, Apache Tiles, d3/nvd3, FusionCharts, ImageJ, Maven, Grunt, Git, SVN, JIRA, Confluence