Our client is a leading global provider of software applications for the commercial real estate (CRE) sector. Our partnership began in 2009, when the client engaged two ValueLabs QA engineers to ensure the quality of new releases for its on-premises products.
Seeing the quality of our work and the dedication of our team, the client soon began to involve us in its software development efforts too – decommissioning another India-based vendor and consolidating development and QA with us. By 2016 we had an offshore team of up to 40 developers and QA analysts working hand-in-glove with the client’s own teams.
2016 marked a step-change in an already successful partnership. As the client looked to rebuild its flagship product as a subscription-based SaaS offering in the cloud, it conducted a worldwide search for a partner to help with the migration. Its conclusion: of all the vendors it evaluated, ValueLabs offered the best mix of scalability, expertise, cost-effectiveness, and engagement model.
We were appointed as the strategic development partner for the cloud migration, with the first SaaS applications launching on time in 2019. Today, we act as our client’s extended UX, development, and QA team, collaborating seamlessly with the client’s onshore teams in Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia to rapidly design, develop, and release new functionality.
It’s a true OneCompany® partnership, with equal investment from both sides. Rather than viewing us as an external vendor, the client considers us an integral part of their team: giving us full access to their vision and product roadmap, including our team in bonus and reward schemes, and encouraging close collaboration among all team members. It’s a winning model that has resulted in the rapid delivery of a high-quality SaaS product, at a fraction of the cost of inhouse development.
In 2016 our client embarked on a landmark initiative: rebuilding its core on-premises product for SaaS delivery in the cloud. The project was critical to the client’s continued success, by giving its commercial real estate customers easy access to functionality that can improve their business profitability.
Migrating to the cloud would, however, require a large team that was highly invested and skilled across multiple software delivery disciplines. As we already had 20 developers working on maintaining and developing the on-premises product, the client included us in its evaluation of potential external delivery partners, which also included vendors in Latin America and Eastern Europe. After the review, the client selected us as the delivery partner of choice for this mission-critical project, based on our track record and quality of our work.
We implemented an offshore delivery center that operates on an ‘extended team’ model with the client. Within three years we had scaled the team to over 100 people, working out of a securely partitioned quadrant of our Hyderabad office. With scrum teams comprising developers, business analysts, and UI/UX specialists, the offshore team mirrors the onshore team’s capabilities. In addition, it also provides the entire QA function for the client’s flagship SaaS product and other products.
Our client recently celebrated its 1,000th customer on the cloud version of its core product, and continues to roll out new features to help its customers manage their commercial real estate portfolios efficiently and profitably. With ValueLabs playing a key role in that success and more exciting development projects on the horizon, it’s a relationship that’s only set to grow further.
When our client decided to migrate its on-premises software to the cloud, the aim was to create a win-win both for the company and for its customers.
With the on-premises model, customers couldn’t access vital insights while outside the corporate network. They also needed dedicated hardware to host it and skilled administrators to manage and upgrade it, meaning many customers were left behind on older versions and were missing out on valuable new features. Our client, meanwhile, had the burden of maintaining and supporting multiple versions, as not every customer wanted to (or was able to) upgrade at the same time.
A migration to the cloud – and a continuously updated SaaS model with anytime, anywhere access – was the clear solution. However, getting there would require a swift ramp-up in development and testing capacity, a raft of new cloud skills and technologies, and an organizational model that would allow teams based around the world to collaborate on the development effort.
Rather than take on all the heavy lifting internally, our client chose to work with us, significantly expanding our existing partnership.
Working together, we moved the underlying databases onto the AWS cloud, using Salesforce to manage identity and access in a multi-tenant architecture. We redeveloped the service layer as microservices, and built a portfolio of front-end applications to replicate the different modules available with the on-premises version. Finally, we created a subscription model for the cloud applications to replace the licensing model used for the on-premises version of our client’s product.
Today, our client has over 1,000 customers live on the cloud version of its flagship product and is adding new customers daily. Customers enjoy a much-reduced total cost of ownership, immediate access to new functionality, and the ability to configure the front-end applications to their needs. Our client, meanwhile, can focus all of its energies on the SaaS application, rather than having to dedicate resource to supporting and maintaining older versions of its on-premises software.
One of the biggest challenges of re-architecting our client’s flagship product for the cloud was converting its legacy desktop applications into slick, modern web applications. The client was keen to take advantage of the latest technologies and best practices to ensure a smooth and enjoyable user experience for its commercial real estate customers.
For us, this meant giving significant thought to the way the back-end services, the business logic, and the front-end user interface were architected. For back-end services, we built a platform in the AWS cloud and rewrote the existing service layer as microservices for that platform, with APIs to core business functionality and common services like user authentication and access control.
For the web applications, we took a micro frontend approach, creating a single host for all of the individual line-of-business applications and rebuilding each one as multiple micro frontends rather than single monoliths. By drawing on a library of reusable UI controls and components, we were able to create a consistent look, feel, and user experience across all of the front-end applications.
Grouping a large number of APIs logically under multiple microservices allowed us to simplify the design of the SaaS architecture, while a micro frontend approach supports the subscription-based SaaS model by optimizing application availability on the host. Our team structure brought further efficiencies: by having a dedicated scrum team for each micro frontend and microservice, we can deliver functionality faster, reducing overall development times by 30%.
Software quality is a key concern for our client, and the reason they initially came to us in 2009. We’ve provided QA services from the very start of our engagement, ensuring our client always releases high-quality software with minimal defects.
As the client has migrated from an on-premises model to SaaS, the need for extensive, efficient, and fast-turnaround quality assurance has grown.
Like us, our client is a keen proponent of automation to maximize code coverage while allowing faster delivery of new functionality. Today, every one of our scrum teams has a QA automation engineer working alongside manual testers to automate as much as 85% of test cases. We’ve developed automated test suites for unit testing, smoke testing, regression testing, and end-to-end flows, while our client takes care of scalability and performance testing.
With the client’s software now running in the cloud, we’ve been able to take a DevOps approach to testing, shifting it left in the delivery cycle and making it an integral part of our CI/CD flows. We’ve also introduced innovations of our own to the QA process, for example by developing a unified dashboard with Grafana and C# to visualize the results of automated tests for our client.
Our QA approach has delivered significant benefits, including an 80% reduction in effort through the use of automated regression and end-to-end testing. The net result is that we deliver high-quality software fast, ensuring our client can roll out new functionality quickly and stay ahead of competitors.
As a global SaaS provider with a worldwide customer base, our client needs to offer 24/7 cloud platform support – not just for its customers, but also for its internal scrum teams working in pre-production environments.
We use the latest tools for automated monitoring and alerting, enabling us to detect and fix issues often before the user becomes aware of them. For internal users of the platform, we use tools like PagerDuty and Microsoft Teams to collaborate with local teams over any environment issues.
The result for our client is peace of mind, knowing that infrastructure issues are being detected and fixed around the clock, and most simple queries are resolved by the IES team. What’s more, our client’s in-region DevOps teams can spend less time troubleshooting, and more time developing and releasing valuable new functionality.
Customer expectations of enterprise software are increasing, with most now expecting a slick, consumer-like experience. Our client is very keen that its SaaS product meets these expectations, with elegant design and an intuitive experience that minimizes effort for the user.
Before starting work on the front-end web applications, we sought feedback from existing customers on design changes they would like to see in the SaaS product. We then took a lean startup approach to the reimagined UX – iterating in short sprints and seeking end-user feedback with each iteration to ensure future adoption.
We’ve also worked with the client’s designers to build a UI framework, with a library of reusable controls that’s available to all scrum teams and updated regularly as new requirements emerge.
The result is a modern look and feel, and a consistent user experience across all customer-facing applications, regardless of which scrum team has developed which functionality. Development times have been slashed by 70%, too, as the UI library means controls don’t need to be built from scratch.
Throughout our partnership, we’ve continued to strengthen the relationship with our client. We do that not just by delivering the high quality of work that’s expected of us, but also by applying a proactive and innovative mindset. From building a dashboard to co-monitor application performance, to harnessing AWS Global Accelerator to minimize latency, we continuously look for ways to reduce costs and timescales for our client, and to improve the experience for its customers.
It’s a prime example of the kind of successful partnership that can emerge when both parties are invested in working as one team.
“Our alignment extends as far as shared objectives,” says Director of Development Kamalesh Nandi, who oversees the ValueLabs offshore team.
The objectives of our client’s senior executive team cascade down to us and become our objectives. It means our team are aligned to be successful not just for themselves, but for the success of our client.”
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