SaaS Employee Recognition & Incentive Platform

Partnering With Our Client to Rebuild and Get an Enterprise SaaS Platform to Market.

Snapshot

Our client, the creator of a leading enterprise SaaS platform for employee incentives and loyalty wanted to update their product and get a newer version to market quickly. 

Looking to increase their customer satisfaction, the client also sought to enhance and modernize the user experience while also automating the process of configuring the platform for new customer instances.

Business

Challenges

Our Client works with customers across an array of industries with different needs, challenges and uses for their platform. Of course, this means maximizing the usefulness and the value of the platform for customers requires a lot of configuration and customization. 

The Client was spending too much time and using too many resources to onboard new clients. New tools to automate this manual process would have clear business benefits, most notably that it would allow the Client to allocate their technical people away from configuration to platform improvement and support where they can create more value. 

To increase customer retention and engagement on the platform, the Client sought new ways to reimagine and modernize the user experience. By casting the user as the protagonist of the experience they could incite more passionate usage and customer loyalty. 

In an ongoing effort to recruit new customers and help more deeply integrate the platform with existing customers, the Client is working to make the platform available, with multiple API extensions, in the open application marketplace of the nation’s premier payroll management provider. 
 

Results

  • With the automation of new client set up on the portal, we were able to reduce demands on technical resources and streamlined the onboarding of new customers. 
  • By working efficiently and collaboratively, we were able to help our Client get their new product to market more quickly which allowed their sales team to close more sales. 
  • User testing has shown that the User Experience of the new product  is more user friendly, as a result existing clients engagement has swelled. 

Technology

Challenges

Automation
Previous versions of the platform would require many hours, if not days for a developer to manually configure the platform every new customer. The new solution, building upon the existing Java platform, had to automate that process to free up those resources for use in areas where they could be more productive. 

UX/UI
With age, the platform user experience had become stale. It was critical for a new user experience to more fully immerse the user, engage them and promote increased usage of the platform within customer organizations. Given the number of functions and tools, this also required a review of the information architecture to most artfully connect features with workflows. 

Migration 
The platform had been hosted on Azure. To save on hosting fees and get access to limitless scale, all platform environments had to be migrated to AWS without interruption. 

Payroll Application 
We are currently working with the Client to develop an application to be offered through a marketplace developed by the nation’s leading payroll services provided. By using the payroll provider’s APIs the application will allow customers to integrate their incentive programs directly with their payroll system. 

QA 
Because there were multiple efforts taking place across different elements of the platform, our approach to QA had to be as nimble as our development process itself. The main challenge was to automate testing for hundreds of cases to make sure we could quickly and reliably ensure new feature quality and performance throughout and an iterative development cycle. 
 

Results

  • We set out to automate nearly 100% of the new customer configuration process. Now, a process that would have previously taken many hours or even days of technical expertise can be done in minutes without technical knowledge. 
  • Successfully migrated the platform and all staging environments to AWS from Azure reducing cost and meeting scale requirements. 
  • Developed and automated QA system covering 35% of core functionality. 
  • Spark Digital iteratively designed and built the solution using AWS, Java and Spring MVC, MS-SQLServer and Angular JS.
  • Migrated all environments from Azure to AWS - development, QA and staging. 
  • Defined and implemented a deployment process for test new releases of code.

Our Approach

With the Client, we determined an iterative design process followed by a modular development approach would best suit the technology goals and business demands of the project. 

We used a typical agile approach for the project while also evangelizing and using our experience to help implement agile best practices within their organization. 

The design effort required the scientific and methodological rigor of a UX researcher as well as visual design expertise, which are not always found in the same person. To speed the pace of workflow and reduce costs for the Client, we assigned the rare breed of designer who can do both moving seamlessly from user stories and UX concepts to working design iterations. 
 

The Team

We started the engagement with just three people on the team; a DM, UX designer and a front-end developer. As the project continued and the scale grew, we added an additional team of java engineers working on both platform automation and developing the new payroll marketplace application, an effort that remains ongoing. Early in the process, we also engaged some of our QA and Devops engineers to help define success and continually track outcomes with an eye on supporting future reliability and maintenance efforts. 

Working with the Client

This project required deep collaboration between us and the Client because we were developing new features, rebuilding the back-end and  revamping the user experience all at the same time. Both the VP of Product and the Head of Engineering were committed to working hand-in-hand with us from start to finish. This made it easier to define client-side requirements and work with best possible feedback. 

With UX being a major component of the work we were doing, our near-shore model and agile best practices helped maintain a fast-paced workflow starting with using stories through design iteration and closing the feedback loop with user testing. 
 

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