Sunday, July 14, 2019

We can build Custom Solutions for MIS, ERP, CRM


Here’s How?

We are often approached by businesses of all sizes that seek to enhance their organisation's information flow. It’s necessary to have appropriate information in the decision-making process at the correct time and place and is, therefore, the main factor in improving productivity for any company. Even today, in 2019, an amazing amount of organisations have outdated (or none at all) systems to handle data and distribute it among departments, individuals and stakeholders. These result in missed possibilities, reduced productivity and missed revenue potential. To combat this, forward-thinking organisations use recent technologies to upgrade their systems to assist achieve a competitive advantage in their sector. We work with these organizations and develop tailor-made solutions to meet their specific requirements.

Why build custom solutions

Before looking at how we create custom solutions, we need to look at why, because the first thing most individuals ask about custom solutions is why they should be regarded, particularly when off–the-shelf products are accessible in the spaces of MIS, ERP & CRM. While these ready-made products may give similar features to the organization's requirements, they will not be an actual fit and will require the business to modify its processes to adjust the system in its workflows. In our view, this is counterproductive as the sole purpose of implementing technology is to supercharge your existing workflows, not to meet the requirements of an external entity.

Additionally, a vast majority of latest products (and certainly all significant ones) are much more costly than custom-built solutions. Usually, this fact surprises many clients when they find it, as it appears to be a fallacy. Logic would dictate that at a lesser price point a product produced for mass reproduction would be accessible than a tailor produced for you alone. At this point, that is not the case, though. This is a software by-product designed and created decades ago on technology that can only operate on technology stacks requiring permits costing millions of dollars annually. Couple that the bills continue to stack up due to the reality that these require qualified experts to deploy and retain.

By contrast, custom solutions are based on open source technology and use the recently accessible libraries that evolve on a daily basis. With millions of individuals worldwide using and promoting these technologies, they are covered by the Creative Commons MIT open source license and are accessible to anyone to use in their software without any licensing charges. That alone saves the bat millions of bucks. Hosting for these products is also much cheaper as they can run on any Linux-based server running open source stacks such as nginx, PHP, MySQL, MongoDB, Redis, etc. which in turn makes the design & development price the only significant cost you end up incurred.

For every $1 spent on implementing ERP, an average of 45 cents goes toward licensing.

How we build custom solutions

Just as the name suggests, for each business we work with, the experience of building custom solutions is always distinct. There is, however, a process that we are following to guide our choices. Here are the steps that we are taking:

1. Requirements gathering

Acquiring an understanding of the domain is always the point of jumping off. While we understand how to develop a custom enterprise software in and out, we may not always have an in-depth understanding of the procedures of the company, its workflows, the requirements of the industry, and much more to consider. We start by interviewing important stakeholders and prospective customers of the suggested scheme to collect all this understanding. These discussions can be conducted in person or through video conference & screen shares on the phone. Throughout this phase, we ask individuals to walk us through their daily routines, what they feel are some of the bottlenecks they face, what their pain points are, and what they feel is an optimal world for them to make them more productive.

Without proper requirements gathering, It’s hard to build the right enterprise software.

2. Analysis

We take all the data collected about the present system of the company, the wishlists of its teams, workflows, bottlenecks and all in between, and map them out in several design thinking sessions. Trends & patterns will unmistakably start to emerge during these sessions. Based on previous experiences, present developments in the sector, taking into consideration (and much more) the recent technological advances, we determine the best way to solve the problems at hand. These alternatives are prioritized and put in such categories as urgent, low-hanging fruit, must have, good to have, etc. and submitted accordingly to the customer. This information is then used to devise a project plan which breaks down the development into phases, which are determined by the desired timelines, budgetary limitations and stakeholder demands. Once this project plan is approved and everyone is on the same page, we are ready to build.

3. Design

We lay the basis on which the remainder of the growth will take place during the design stage. Our design process is extremely cooperative and involves our customer every step of the manner to ensure we get early and timely feedback on the same page. This starts with wireframes outlining all the displays and converting them into high-fidelity models based on the feedback obtained. At the same moment, our back-end team is working on the design of databases and infrastructure, producing ERDs, data flow diagrams, infrastructure diagrams, API documents, and more. All the attempts during the design stage contribute to a much smoother and more effective implementation phase. Once the designs are pleased with all sides & stakeholders, we move into the design stage.

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4. Development & Testing

The development stage is where the application's code is written. It starts with setting up the code repository to collaborate on the teams and the environments (dev, QA & staging) where distinct testing rates will happen. The back-end team starts to work on generating database migrations and writing the necessary APIs to interact with the database. The front-end development team, meanwhile, is working on developing parts based on HTML, CSS & Javascript to introduce the models into the browser. The team operates together to incorporate everything once both teams have finished writing the code for their fields.

Our QA method is not a distinct component of the design process but in fact part of it. They work with front-end and back-end teams continually to test each step of the manner. They start with Unit Tests for individual tasks initially, and then expand their attempts with Functional Tests to wider scopes. Integration Tests and Regression Tests also become a component of the QA rotation once the integration phase is reached. Our client has access to the Staging setting where we regularly push out builds so that they can also test and follow our progress. Once the final feature-set has been pushed and tested on the Staging environment, we are ready to deploy to Production.

5. Deployment

Our QA technique is not, but actually part of, a separate component of the design process. They operate continuously with front-end and back-end teams to test every step of the way. They originally begin with Unit Tests for individual assignments and then expand their efforts to wider scopes with Functional Tests. Integration testing and regression testing will also become part of the QA rotation once the integration stage is reached. Our customer has access to the Staging environment where we frequently push out builds to test and follow our progress as well. Once the deployment is complete, we will provide access to relevant users and stakeholders.

6. Monitor & iterate

As users start to populate the system with fresh data, in the form of user behaviour analytics, we achieve a wealth of information. This enables us to know which features customers interact regularly with and which characteristics do not receive the kind of attention we had anticipated. We will also receive a lot of feedback from the customers themselves, detailing their fresh system experience and showing signs of enhancing their daily workflows or not. This type of feedback is extremely useful as it enables us to create key decisions about what the next iteration of growth should be.

We take all this data and go back to the evaluation stage to determine whether we should proceed along the roadmap that was earlier set out or address some of the issues that consumers may have raised with the new scheme. These are once against calls for judgment based on a lot of information, company objectives & priorities of the company, and much more. We talk to the stakeholders about these and generate a Phase 2 project plan, and the process starts again.

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Conclusion

Our method, as you can say, is highly inclusive, comprehensive and has been refined through years of experience based on real-world projects designed for businesses of all dimensions. We know that when building custom solutions, a one-size-fits-all method is not viable because there will be distinct needs and priorities for each organisation. We are truly embracing and operating as such what it means to be an agile & lean growth alternative for these firms. For this reason, at a fraction of the price, we can create systems that compete with large-scale enterprise-level systems. The savings of not having to cope with inflated licensing charges are significant, and we pass on these savings to our customers. At the same time, we find them constantly amazed at the fact that despite the substantially lower price tag, they receive a product that is of equal quality, and often times, better than what they could have found when going with an existing market leader’s premium product. This is simply because the product is tailored for them, and their needs.

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