Lifting a payment platform out of the development doldrums

2
minute read

Summary

The client, an international Fortune 500 payment provider, had been outsourcing their development work of its core product but realised that they needed more focused support. Their B2B platform needed a full redesign and -build while keeping a functioning live product running for its users. Between four and five teams had already been working on this when Lola Tech joined the project.

The Background

The client’s product is a B2B platform with a broad set of features, servicing various sectors from finance to retail and the public sector. Financial features include pre- and post-payment self-serve functions for users, and much of the extensive data repository generated by users’ activity on the platform directly feeds into the client’s CRM. The portal had initially been built with a finite set of features but over time was scaled up to include ever more sector customisation and specific use-case features for individual customers. This significantly increased the complexity of the product and complicated the work required of the developer teams.

The Technical Bit

With this product being already released and in use, the biggest technical challenge was to deliver an updated platform without disruption to users. The biggest logistical challenge arose from the product backlog being split across multiple teams - the client’s own, Lola Tech and the previous outsourcing partner. This resulted in significant cultural and linguistic differences which had to be overcome in order to ensure reliable communication and effective collaboration. We do have experience in managing situations like this, and so immediately set up clear lines of communication, as they were a key prerequisite for project coordination and release synchronisation. We also had to build a high level of trust quickly in order to break old habits and nurture a willingness to experiment with new tools and tech.

We kicked off the engagement with a series of workshops which were attended by everyone involved in the project. The aim was to improve and clarify the existing definition of done and the workflows required to get there. The sessions also refined the development and QA activities so that all teams could focus on shipping valuable increments rather than following the client’s original micro-processes, which were deemed to be inefficient.

The client’s platform was built as a monolithic application - the key task was to deliver an upgraded frontend to ensure a fresh, smoother experience for users. To ensure minimal disruption to customers and their users, increments had to be grouped into sets of changes. These were then released to customers as updates to their portal dashboards - users would notice small design and functional changes but would otherwise not be disrupted in their use of the platform.

The Results

As an ongoing project which continues to grow in scope and duration, our focus is on the more immediate outcome of a more effective and efficient collaboration between five teams. Initial cultural differences have been overcome and the day-to-day work is more streamlined than ever before. Increments are shipped in regular two-week sprints, giving the client the assurance that progress is made while minimising disruption for users. The product is being optimised at a faster pace than when we joined the effort, and all stakeholders are happy with the experience to date.

Final Thoughts

This is a complex project which, due to its scope and lengthy runtime, had different teams joining at different stages, which further complicated the delivery process. When so many stakeholders are involved, it can sometimes be necessary to have difficult conversations about working methods and efficiencies. In these, Lola Tech benefited from our experience in project management and collaboration, and our staff were able to contribute valuable suggestions for more effective workflows. In the end, this project taught us once again that transparent communication sits at the very heart of successful digital products.

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