The client is a Pacific Northwest publishing company that serves as the exclusive publisher of a specific set of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) standards. EDI is a computer-to-computer exchange between enterprises, which replaces mail, fax, and email. By using a standardized EDI format, businesses are able to exchange large amounts of data quickly, securely, and cost-effectively.
The data published by the client is used globally across all major industries including, healthcare, insurance, transportation, and security, and the client is the only company in the world which licenses and publishes these standards. They also provide tools for implementing and interpreting these data, and manage the activities of the EDI standards committee members at events where industry standards are debated and created.
The publishing company’s clients, called members, subscribe and pay a one-time fee to gain access to their various products, such as access to standards and documentation. These subscriptions were managed manually on a legacy system, making collecting and managing data problematic and cumbersome.
In order to move their business to the next level and better serve their clients, the client hired AccelOne to design and implement a cloud-based solution to replace its legacy system. The goal of this new solution was to increase the efficiency of their subscription process, improve and leverage their event management process, and collect valuable data on their clients’ behavior, which could be applied to other aspects of the business such as sales and marketing.
PROOF OF CONCEPT
After doing an in-depth analysis of the business processes and requirements of the client, AccelOne concluded that the Salesforce cloud was the best option to accommodate for all of the complexities.
The client was initially skeptical of the Salesforce CRM, questioning whether the platform would be flexible enough to meet the very complex relationship schemas involved in managing its members. So, AccelOne offered to perform a “Salesforce Complexities Audit” to build a proof-of-concept version of the platform, accommodating mock examples of some of the nuanced and complex natures of their members’ relationships. This was offered to the client on a risk-free basis, only to be paid for if AccelOne could successfully prove that Salesforce could, indeed, completely meet their needs.
The Proof of Concept was completed in three weeks and accepted by the client, who decided to move forward with Salesforce as the platform of choice for their entire subscription management system.
In order to begin the execution of the Salesforce configuration, AccelOne assembled a blended team of developers from the US and Argentina. This blended team model allowed the client to reduce the cost of configuration and development while keeping a Seattle-based team leader who could meet face-to-face with project stakeholders. The final team assembly included:
- Senior Salesforce Architect – Seattle, WA
- Senior Salesforce Business Analyst – Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Senior Salesforce Developer – Buenos Aires, Argentina
With the gathered requirements and user stories as a guide, AccelOne planned the entire implementation of the solution on Trello, using the Agile Framework. Trello is a collaborative project management tool that allows a shared perspective on all tasks. This was particularly useful on this project, where all team members were working remotely.
In order to maintain tight communication with the distributed team, AccelOne had daily stand-up meetings over Skype to discuss updates to tasks and any blocking issues. They then used Slack, a team messaging tool, to communicate in real-time while working on their tasks.
Finally, AccelOne held a weekly demo meeting with the client to demonstrate project progress, gather valuable feedback, and identify any new requirements.
In order to ensure that the best possible result for the client was achieved, AccelOne placed a large amount of emphasis on User Acceptance Testing (UAT). This meant that each time the development team finished with a requirement, they wrote a user script. This user script would allow a user from the client’s company to run through scenarios themselves to test that the functionality worked as expected, familiarize themselves with the solution and provided an opportunity to raise any questions, concerns, or unforeseen nuances.
This collaborative effort between AccelOne and the client in the final stages of the project created a highly-effective, fully-functional subscription management system that could be rapidly deployed into production for the client.
The most defining feature of this project was AccelOne’s blended-team model working in an Agile team format. The needs of the client were highly complex and required a local, senior-level Salesforce architect to be able to meet with the client face-to-face on a regular basis. However, once the initial architecture was completed, they were able to control costs and propel rapid delivery by utilizing senior-level Salesforce developers in Argentina who were experienced in Agile development.
The Agile development framework allowed both the development teams and the client to iterate on a frequent basis, catching new requirements, errors, and issues early on, therefore saving time and money.
The final result was a comprehensive Salesforce solution which had a very high business value to the client. All project stakeholders were deeply involved in the development of the solution, therefore the deployment and adoption of Salesforce into production could be done quickly and easily.