A dedicated client delivery team for healthcare BI
Our client delivery team processes change requests, performs code review, supports existing products, and provides development and customization services, ensuring 8 times faster new feature launches and 3 times swifter change request delivery.
The customer is a global leader in BI, ML, AI, and data science systems for the pharmaceutical industry. Their clients and partners are device manufacturers and government entities, medical researchers and pioneering startups who strive to transform the healthcare domain with the help of new technologies.
The customer’s clients are healthcare corporations that develop thousands of complex products. The customer provides analytical support for those products, making sure they match market expectations. For 10 years, Itransition has been the customer’s technology partner, assisting them with the development and support of solutions for their clients. As part of that partnership, our product team has created a data management service, an ETL process development system, and a customizable multi-tenant pharma analytics solution. The system is supported 24/7 and often requires large-scale client customizations. At the moment, Itransition continues providing maintenance and support services for web assets, as well as solution development in general.
But with the client base growing, the customer faced an influx of additional developmental challenges. Those included further development of existing solutions, the creation of new ones, and optimizing ETL processes for clients, all while customizing and supporting client solutions to fit specific business needs. Itransition’s product team wanted to focus on product development and enhancement without switching from their primary tasks to resolving arising issues. What is more, the customer’s internal global delivery team lacked the capacity to cover those needs on their own.
Therefore, they needed to separate the development of new product features from dealing with client change requests, customizing products to specific client needs, setting up ETL processes for client teams, and dealing with other maintenance and support issues.
To solve the issue of multiple task streams, Itransition suggested forming a dedicated client delivery team (CDT) as part of the customer’s global delivery team. The CDT consists of on-demand operational support developers and PMs that communicate with the customer’s BAs, AMs, developers, and testers. The CDT reaches out to Itransition’s product team developers when they have questions about clients’ products.
Partnership principles and outcomes
Mutually beneficial partnership
As partners of the customer, we view their success as our own and consult them on products and processes to make their business models as competitive as possible. In turn, Itransition, as a service provider, gets valuable expertise in personalizing services for multiple clients in line with their specific business needs.
Working on the project, we resolve conflicts and find compromises by considering different points of view, discussing them openly, and being empathetic to the needs expressed by each client. Open communication, along with positive results of subprojects and consistent quality of service, helps us establish trust and transparency. Being always available and timely answering questions and requests makes the customer feel confident in the services our CDT provides.
A single point of contact
We provide a single point of contact for the customer, who directs team members to other experts only when necessary. The single-point-of-contact approach streamlines communication, helps minimize delays and misunderstandings, and allows us to avoid information silos despite multiple collaboration channels.
Client delivery approach
The CDT positions itself as a co-creator of the products we have developed together with the customer early in the project. When a change request comes to the CDT, the team analyzes it from the perspective of the product, as well as a specific client need, to offer an optimal solution. If a different approach is better long term, we prepare detailed argumentation for it. We also provide a set of estimates for each proposed option with lists of pros and cons, possible complications, and risks. All change requests are reviewed and approved both by the customer and our product team and aligned with the web product deployment schedule.
While planning new implementations, the team considers the following:
- Solution longevity
- Ease of further support and maintenance
- Stress-free upscaling
- Market compatibility
The CDT uses a Kanban pull system for Operational support and has achieved fast turnaround times. They have also set up the following response times for requests: 8 hours for blocker requests, 12 hours for major ones, and 24 hours for minor ones in OS.
For bug fixing, we set up a simplified delivery process. When bugs require outside help, a CDT developer and QA reach out to the product team. If we have confirmed a product bug, it's reported to the bug reports channel and prioritized for the product team to take on and raise a ticket.
The CDT formalized the internal code review to utilize best practices for code quality, smooth out project onboarding for new people, and ensure our developers are constantly building their coding skills. We also oversee code review implementation on the project.
Additionally, we have introduced an internal review for SQL and emphasized the importance of SQL guidelines to provide the cleanest code possible. Finally, we set up the CDT code review process for the multi-tenant web asset development to ensure the code we add to the product is high quality and efficient. The CDT also holds internal retrospective meetings to discuss the arising issues and find mitigation strategies to avoid these situations in the future.
For all our projects, we adopt the Fail Early principle by testing change request ideas using investigations and estimates. All of the above involves prioritizing detailed requirements gathering and in-depth scope discussions. Ambiguous requests that are open to several interpretations can lead to unexpected outcomes as well as time and budget losses. To prevent misinterpretations, we suggested a new approach to detailed requirements gathering where we allocate more time to scope estimates, checks, reviews, and approval. The customer’s support managers and BAs studied, tweaked and approved the approach, with the documented guideline shared with our knowledge base.
Itransition’s CDT always opts for flexible and adaptive frameworks to promptly tweak offerings in line with the needs of the customer’s clients. To consolidate project delivery that consists of different size and scope change requests, we have adopted a case-by-case service delivery strategy using project management methodologies.
The CDT has to set up complex processes to meet the needs of each specific client. We also take the processes each client has set up, the processes within the CDT, and the communication flow with the product team. So, for each client, the framework is different, so we tweak it when needed.
For each project, we also choose the most appropriate project management methodology. The choice between Scrum or Kanban methodology depends on client needs, such as the work volume and number of requests, the internal processes established within the client’s teams, or the pharma niche the client works in. So when the client wants to review their methodology approach, we analyze the process and suggest the most suitable option.
Due to our dedicated developers being able to quickly handle any client request, launching new feature development takes two weeks instead of three months before the CDT creation.
The CDT centralizes all project assets and updates them regularly, paying particular attention to knowledge sharing, retention, and transfer. When client teams change, our knowledge base serves as a reference point for newcomers. Regardless of team changes on any side, the knowledge remains intact, allowing us to keep high quality of service.
We create detailed project documentation and articles covering all development aspects and processes and hold weekly knowledge transfer sessions where team members share know-how tips and workarounds for recently resolved issues. Recordings of such meetings are stored and grouped into categories in the knowledge base.
The product team also regularly covers the questions and topics the CDT needs to catch up on during knowledge-sharing sessions. The list of new areas to cover is communicated to the product team managers every other Thursday for future scheduling. Knowledge-sharing sessions also include backlog reviews and new feature presentations. The CDT also has regular learning sessions on different topics, with the customer’s experts involved in such knowledge-sharing sessions as well.
Itransition developers created internship tutorials to share the knowledge newcomers need to work on a project. For experts who successfully passed the internship period, we also introduced a mentoring system, and for new team members, we created an onboarding plan.
The internship program includes a detailed plan of topics and materials and practical training sessions that team members conduct several times a week. It also involves collecting feedback from managers and discussing the results of the newcomers’ work. Thanks to the program, we onboarded six new specialists who completed the internship and became part of the team. We also collect feedback on the process itself and introduce regular improvements to it.
The internship program helps us ensure project development goes according to plan and within the expected time frame. For the client, this was seen as one of our advantages, as it enabled us to objectively evaluate the work of a new employee (via a monthly productivity report) and help them become part of the team.
ETL processes setup and optimization to ensure scalability
The CDT constantly develops new and supports existing ETL processes for the customer’s clients, provides ETL process setup and maintenance, and sets up new processes.
Web asset maintenance and support of end-client-specific implementations
This includes handling change requests and developing new features. A client request involves the following steps:
- The CDT receives a request for new client-specific functionality to be added or a part of the pre-existing one to be reworked.
- The customer’s BAs and AMs send us solution design/scope documentation with tech requirements.
- We implement the new functionality into the existing products.
- The client gets new functionality together with the updated core product functionality.
Development and customization of the system’s white-label web assets for the customer’s clients
We rebranded the assets to fit clients’ brand styles and aesthetics. The team also added a custom functionality to make sure web products match clients’ business needs.
QA specialists from the product team work with CDT testers and carry out testing activities regularly, including functional testing, automated testing, and preparing test documentation. We wrote autotests using the stack C# + NUnit + Moq and achieved 8 times broader code coverage with unit tests in six months
Tech consulting and training
The CDT has also set up training sessions for the customer’s clients to speed up the work of the mutual team. Considering our experience with the processes and business logic, we’re also constantly consulting clients on existing specific processes and functionality.
Migrating clients to new processes and solutions
Before Itransiton’s involvement, the customer used Subversion (SVN) for version control, but we moved client applications from SVN to Git. The product team started the migration, and the CDT finished the process, moving clients one by one. After moving clients to Git, the code of all clients needed refactoring, so the CDT evaluated the scope of refactoring, planned, and performed it.
Migrating clients to new product versions
The CDT moved the customer’s clients to the required product version and prepared them to be included in the automated bi-weekly delivery process. This allowed clients to receive core upgrades regularly and utilize the latest available functionality.
Upon request, we also provide tech consulting on web asset administration and existing functionality to the customer.
During the collaboration with the customer as part of their global delivery team, Itransition’s CDT became a reliable partner forming a close, trustful relationship not only with the customer but also with their clients. The team provided simultaneous support to 10+ corporate clients with their own specifics, complex processes, and different PM methodologies (Scrum, Kanban) to teams spread globally. We have achieved the following results:
- Sped up change request delivery 3 times
- Achieved 8 times faster launch of new features
- Separated client requests from product development, ensuring reliable planning and successful delivery
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