Case Study for Web Development

The tool for assisting doctors with diseases treatment

Customer

The client is a small IT consulting company from Switzerland specializing in designing and implementing web and mobile solutions.

Objective

The customer’s project was aimed at creating a web tool to assist medical specialists with treatment of particular diseases and thus to improve the healthcare services. The customer has prepared a rather detailed specification documents to describe the tool functionality; yet he envisaged the possibility of adding a number of extra features at later stages. At the same time the customer’s preferred model of cooperation was Fixed Price approach, which is originally not very suitable for projects with not fully defined scope of work. As for the design, the client provided rough mock-ups and indented to use standard twitter bootstrap elements. Thus the customer relied on our technical team designing skills to implement the general tool outlook and user-friendliness. One of the other tasks set was to make the form pages load quickly, as in some countries the bandwidth is not that large.

Solution

As we have already cooperated on a number of projects with the given customer, we were familiar with his preferred approach to working on the projects (Fixed Price). At the same time we were to figure out the most suitable way for both sides to effectively handle the forthcoming changes. As a result we have agreed to implement the scope of work which was sufficiently defined to start with on a fixed basis and continue the change request phase following Time and Material approach. Such solution allowed us to not to lose time for estimating and negotiating each upcoming change request and not to slow done the development process.

The functionality essence of the tool under development was as following: when the doctor encounters the case of a disease which he is not sure how to treat he refers to the tool. The doctor fills in the required number of form fields (250-280) with the information about the patient and the symptoms. Then the case is validated by the web tool manager who assigns the case to a particular area coordinator. The area coordinator in his turn redirects the case to 2 experts who give their recommendations to the doctor on how to treat the patient.

The tool has different levels of user rights such as admin, manager, area coordinator, expert and doctor. The manger level users (2 persons maximum) could assign the cases, ask doctors for more information and reassign/ delete cases, view their status and details. The admin level users (4-5 people) have the same rights as the director plus he can and modify accounts. The area coordinator level users (4-8 pers.) can see all cases assigned, can allocate cases to 2 experts, can reallocate and validate expert’s reports and contact doctor. Experts (15 people) can view cases assigned to them, can write a report per case and contact doctor. Doctors (up to 200 people) can create/delete a doctor account, fill the form and submit it. They can also view experts’ final report.

Basically, each user arrives to his dashboard once logged in. It consists on a list with all cases he is allowed to see. Depending on its status (submitted, being reviewed, report available, etc) and the user’s rights, each case has a number of actions possible. Deleted cases stay in the database, with a “deleted” status.

On the doctors’ dashboard, there will be an additional content area where we display some publications (such as static PDF files). On director, area coordinator and experts’ dashboard, there will be a message indicating a number of cases they need to take care of.

The choice of the language was initially English and Russian, while separate parts were in English only. The customer wanted other languages to be included later; therefore we used a language file system to allow easy translation of all variables.

The design isn’t very complex, but every screens, actions are very intuitive and ergonomic for the user. As initially requested by the customer the design was based on Twitter bootstrap elements, and looked in according to the provided mock-ups.

Testing was carried out on the customer’s dev server, once finalized it was transferred to the production environment.

Technologies and tools

PHP, Drupal CMF, Ajax

E-commerce website for wholesale store of decoration items and furniture

Customer

The customer is a UK-based online wholesaler of affordable high quality furniture and interior accessories

Objective

The requirement was to implement the customer’s idea of an E-commerce website. The site brief was to display the catalog of high quality furniture and decoration items at reasonable prices to different businesses such as restaurants, bars and retailers.

Solution

The site was implemented in a simple and user friendly manner to allow an easy navigation of different products and categories. At the same time the site design was very elegant. Magento eCommerce platform was integrated to allow the client to manage the product catalogue and update the content of the site (text, images, videos etc)

At the requirement clarification stage the team explored the customer business processes and service peculiarities and came up with a solution that was tailor made. As a next step our developers built the design of the future solution and as soon as it was approved by the customer the development was started.

The following components were implemented: eCommerce solution and the Content Management System that allowed easy access to the site content by the end user.

As a result the customer was able to increase sales by improving the site usability. The simplicity of the design allowed all categories of customers to feel comfortable using it, the structure of the catalogue is highly intuitive, it allows browsing the categories, finding connected goods, searching for additional information, etc. Moreover, the built in CMS allows the end customer run the system independently, cutting off the maintenance costs.

Technologies and tools

Ajax, Javascript, Magento eCommerce platform, XHTML/CSS, Mootools framework, MySQL, PHP

Сloud-based HR management system project for a Finnish Start-Up company

Customer

The customer is a young and dynamically growing international company from Finland operating in recruiting and service-oriented industries and providing HR management services including a specialized cloud-based software for customers of various size and budget: headhunters, staffing agencies, large recruiting firms, talent management companies, etc.

Objective

Being a HR management services provider, the customer understands needs and problems of their clients from the inside - to deal with them a special HR management system was built on PHP basis. With the course of time, technologies advancement and new challenges and functionality ideas rise the project was decided to move to an advanced platform and add a number of new modules to it to satisfy clientele's requirements better.

To develop such a system the customer wanted to engage an outsourcing partner. They were searching for a reliable software development provider from the Eastern European region, namely from the Baltic States or the Ukraine. In general the project has had a fixed budget, and the investors have set a fixed deadline for it to be in the market - approximately in a year after the discussion started.

Solution

The negotiations began from elaborating on the project details and requirements: what the system had already in place and what was necessary to implement. Unfortunately the current system's features were not documented in a specification, new ideas/ enhancements/ functionality vision were not clearly specified either, so it made it hardly possible to quote on the project accurately.

Initially the customer wanted to organize a tender and as the result to allocate a couple of suppliers for the project realization. Still based on high end estimations from all the applicants and negotiations results Altabel was chosen to be the only project executor thanks to the following advantages to the customer in comparison to other vendors: Altabel's total estimation and hourly rates were lower than our closest competitors from the Ukraine, more flexible and long-term support and maintenance terms, a more comfortable cooperation approach, proved recommendations from the Scandinavian, Northern and Western European customers with whom Altabel has set up dedicated development teams and has been working for years. Actually Altabel's recommendations and testimonials from start-up companies played a very important role in the customer's eyes: the client treated talking to the reference contact points in person about experience of collaborating with Altabel really seriously. The negotiations were finished and the long-term agreement was signed during the meeting between the parties in Finland.

As for the project stages, the first iteration has encompassed the system modules requirements clarification and specification creation. For this iteration Altabel's Business Analyst has been assigned on a dedicated basis to discuss, consult and document the requirements and functionality in close collaboration with the client.

With regards to technologies, the system will be re-built on basis of .NET and Sugar CMS which has sexy UI that the client likes so much. Also the application is going to be realized as an easily scalable SaaS on external clouds for small and medium sized businesses, and a third-party solution and SaaS on internal clouds for larger scale organizations. In general the application will consist of six modules: Payroll and Billing calculations and Invoicing; CRM for HR, business processes and relationships; Workforce Management; Applicant Vacancy; System Admin; Employee UI; Customer UI. From the quantitative perspective the system is targeted at saving of 8-12 working days per month per person for an organization of roughly 200 employees, number-language speaking.

At the next stages for modules development senior .NET developers, a HTML-coder, a designer and a test specialist will be involved in the project, and due to a quite burning deadline the team may amount up to 5 specialists working on several modules simultaneously to squeeze into the timeframe. Also an iterative approach is going to be applied to the project since its requirements are constantly evolving and improving aimed at creating a product which will become a guidance for industry standards. Additionally there are investors-customers who wish to buy the product and thus their preferences and ideas about features and interface should be taken into account as well.

Results

Currently the project is on the divide between specification writing finalization and the first module development start. The discussion of timelines, team composition and skill set, ramp-up plan and risks has already started in order to slide into the next iteration smoothly.