SDaaS - The Strypes Approach To Software Development-as-a-Service

When to use software development as a service (SDaaS)

In-house teams don’t always have the right skill set, knowledge, or bandwidth to complete a project. Hiring new talent is often very time and resource consuming, especially when social insurance, taxes, and the cost of office space are added.

For projects that can’t be handled internally, Software Development as a Service (SDaaS) is a great approach that gives access to new talent and can cater for planned unknown growth. A good SDaaS partner will not only have the right technical experience but will also bring experience from previous projects and add value to the business as a whole. This partner will ensure that there are functional processes set in place, improving the overall workflow for long after the project has been completed.

At Strypes, we use the SDaaS approach to help our clients with the overall project planning, execution, and delivery. We act as an external member of the client’s engineering team. Our talent pool consists of more than 180 professionals who have delivered over 400 projects and 1 million lines of code.

In our experience, there are three main reasons our clients look for an SDaaS partner.

1. Planned unknown growth

There is a Roadmap for a certain time period that can’t be handled internally.

2. Scarce resources

It’s difficult and time-consuming to find the right developers to hire.

3. Insufficient knowledge

The client’s team doesn’t have the right experience and expertise to complete a project.

In the cases above, an external partner will be a valuable addition to the client’s team that would step in, take ownership, and make a detailed execution plan to guarantee successful completion.


Nearsurance

We developed an approach called Nearsurance. Nearsurance brings the benefits of outsourcing software development services while ensuring easy communication and quality by having local team members present at the client’s site. Nearsurance blends high quality, increased productivity, and competitive pricing. The feedback we get from our clients about this model is that it builds a great work relationship with clear communication and quality assurance.

To make it even more effective, we blend it with other proven methods such as the V-model and an agile approach for continuous delivery and execution. First, we assess the client’s issue in depth. Then, we focus on building knowledge and building a dedicated team to bring this knowledge into the work process. Presenting a plan of action, we provide this team to the client and at their location to develop the solution, introduce an optimised process, and perform follow-ups and monitoring.


PROJECT EXAMPLE 1: THE GSOP PLATFORM

GreenFlux is one of our clients whose mission is to deliver better and greener transportation by offering charging solutions for electric vehicles. Their goal is to make driving electric vehicles more accessible and efficient by providing a network of interconnected charging stations all over the world. The hardware solution turns every charging station into a connected device. This al- lows the station to be managed better while adding new charging features.

THE CLIENT BRIEF: WHAT WE HAD TO ACHIEVE

Five years ago, GreenFlux contacted our parent company ICT that, after another two years, reached out to us to provide extra capacity to their team. GreenFlux only had a demo version of the product and a general idea about the functionalities. They had also started building key partnerships to expand their network and distribution. Our goal was to create a platform where all these connected charging stations can be managed.

By understanding the purpose of the solution and building knowledge about what it should do, ICT delivered the initial platform that can manage a large infrastructure of connected charging stations and is also scalable. As a cloud-based solution, the platform communicates with the connected de- vices and provides all the required features: Bookkeeping, Remote Management, Transaction Log, Billing and Invoicing, Turning on/off, Electric Grid Management.

THE CHALLENGES WE HAD TO SOLVE

The initial challenge for ICT was to set a working organisational structure. Our challenge was to help improve the workflow that up to this point was focused on single tasks instead of an end goal. We had to organise the work for the teams in the best possible way to avoid any delays or unfin- ished tasks.

We also had to figure out a more suitable approach to test new features. New features were tested on production with actual production data so any issues would be very time-consuming to fix. In case a charging station`s data was not correctly manipulated, we would have to restore the data to an earlier point.

Another question that came up was how to improve internal communication with the client’s team. Insufficient communication would lead to more work and waste of resources. ICT delivered a roadmap and we had to make sure that the Strypes’ engineering team was in full alignment with ICT’s team so that we can execute all the items from the roadmap.

THE SOLUTIONS WE DELIVERED

ICT took full ownership of the project and added our experience to provide the right tools to set a working structure and a software engineering process according to the V-model. We met with all stakeholders, build the required knowledge and spread it across the team. All development activi- ties were outlined in a roadmap with the right priorities in place.

Developing the core features of the platform, the next step was to ensure that communication with the devices is smooth. Then, ICT and Strypes developed the remote management and billing fea- tures. With scalability as one of the priorities, we had to make sure that the platform will be compat- ible with new devices and can be adapted to new markets while decreasing the deployment time.

The agile approach of continuous deployment and integration helps ICT, Strypes, and GreenFlux save time and reduce costs and this project is still a work in progress. This allows the submitted lines of code to be automatically integrated, tested and deployed. Using the Scrum and Kanban tools, we introduce technical teams and leads to product owners. The product owners are in charge of all requirements, prioritisation and dependencies.

During the last four months and while deploying the platform, we successfully handled over 60 specific requests from the client. The team included developers, solution architects and a team leader. In the first two years, we supported ICT with an additional engineering power and capacity. We started with a team of 2 developers that grew to 12, with an additional 10 team members from our partners, ICT. Every two months, these teams were meeting to discuss the long-term roadmap and ensure that everything is aligned.

THE RESULT

The GSOP platform (the final result) is now one of the leading software platforms in the field of electric charging and eMobility solutions. It is integrated with some of the largest charging station networks across 3 continents and is sold as a turnkey solution to other companies.

NEXT STEPS:

Our involvement with the platform continues to this day, ensuring that it keeps developing and is easily implemented on new markets. The overall system is proactively monitored and it performs flawlessly, due to the operational foundation we set. Incidents are rare thanks to our experienced QA team. Now, our challenge is to make GSOP even easier to integrate with other software platforms and faster to deploy on new markets.

PROJECT EXAMPLE 2: CLIENT UNDER NDA

The client (under NDA) was looking for a partner to develop an application for internal use that was related to a piece of machinery in their operational processes. At the time, they already had an MVP of the application, which was stored on an old computer, without any backlogs or addi- tional information of how it was built. The client had a specific time to market requirements and needed a trusted partner that can deliver results.

THE CLIENT BRIEF: WHAT WE HAD TO ACHIEVE

The client needed us to build an application that could fetch time series raw data from machines and then visualize it into graphical charts, based on the different parameters that were measured. A good analogy would be a weather reporting app, which collects data directly from a weather re- search station. Such a tool would have to follow different parameters like temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind speed. These parameters are then shown based on the end user’s preference and portrayed as graphs, numbers, or charts. In the client’s case, the end users were the field engineers of the company who needed to perform their tasks with less effort and more certainty regarding the data.

The platform we were asked to build had to be able to evaluate signal data against defined limits and produce statuses for signals that are beyond the specifications. If a certain parameter goes beyond a predefined number, the application had to alert the engineers for a possible malfunction.

THE CHALLENGES WE HAD TO SOLVE

This was a niche area where we had no previous experience so we had to build knowledge at a fast pace. We were confident in our technical expertise but we had to understand the client’s process- es better. An understanding of the operational and machinery specifics was fundamental for us to build the right solution. We then had to make sure this knowledge is passed onto the team so that everyone working on the project is in alignment with it.

Another challenge was to ensure that the right processes are in place, both for us and the client. Not everything was clearly defined at all times, which resulted in communication difficulties. Before Strypes joined as a partner, the client issues with postponing, lack of focus, and setting the right priorities. This was something we had to resolve immediately after taking ownership of the project.

THE SOLUTIONS WE DELIVERED

As with GreenFlux, we built a dedicated team and initiated the discovery phase by involving a locally present team member who gathered all necessary information and passed it back to the team. We took long-term oriented actions to ensure that the project ran smoothly and that there were clear processes in place, even after the deployment stage.

We involved a Technical Front Officer and an Architect who held multiple workshops with the cli- ent`s representatives and technical team to assess the specific needs and analyze the high-level requirements and scope of the project. This helped us build the necessary foundation to execute the next steps and create a specific project proposal.

We initiated the environment setup, built a team, and started executing. Our approach followed the V-model of assessing requirements, design outline, development, and testing and deploying. After setting all the processes in place, we took full ownership of the project, defining the requirements and architecture. One of our priorities was to be aligned with the stakeholder`s input and general road map.

To develop and deliver software that met the client’s expectations, we used Java 8, Jave EE, EJB, MongoDB, NodeJS and Python, along with other tools.

THE RESULT

The project is running successfully for two years now, following all the phases that were outlined in the roadmap. The initial delivery phase ended in 2017 and our involvement is planned to continue for at least two or three more years, ensuring that the next phases are executed. Currently, the team consists of 10 members.

NEXT STEPS:

One of the planned features we need to develop is a predicting mode based on artificial intel- ligence. After gathering enough data, the system should be able to recognize and prevent ma- chine failure, based on historical parameters. A guideline process for end-users was another long-term solution we introduced, in case they need to make changes or adjustments to the ma- chines in alignment with the application’s performance.


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The examples that we reviewed showcase a small fraction of our expertise in managing and executing SDaaS projects of different complexity and scope. Our in-depth approach is based on a proven methodology that starts with the right foundation and processes, understanding the requirements, building knowledge, planning, and then implementing.

The best way to show what we can do for your company is to offer a free demo so that we can discuss your needs and show you what solutions we can build.

To request a demo, reach out to us at business@strypes.eu or call us to discuss your project needs.

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