Mobilized Asset
Management Solutions

Mobile responsive Web Apps

Overview

A Washington DC based start-up envisioned by Govt. employees who wanted to build a simple UX for a complex flow of publicly available data about import/export opportunities. The mobile responsive site was launched in 90 days for only $15,000 and is now being used by an engaged group of loyal subscribers who derive a lot of value from the simple UX.

1 Problem Flask
The Problem

SolSourcer was envisioned as a public-private collaboration launched by the DC MBDA Business Center (operated by NCRC) and CodeMyMobile Inc. with five key objectives synchronized with NEI Next initiatives to help U.S. Businesses increase their export reach:

1.Connecting more businesses to their NEXT GLOBAL CUSTOMER with industry-specific information and tailored assistance.

2.Making the NEXT INTERNATIONAL SHIPMENT easier and less expensive, through efforts to streamline export-related services, reporting requirements and processes, and speeding goods to more markets.

3.Expanding access to finance for the NEXT EXPORT TRANSACTION, helping more exporters obtain financing to meet international demand, and ensuring more companies know what products and services are available to reduce risk and export to new markets with confidence.

4.Promoting exports and foreign direct investment attraction as the NEXT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PRIORITY in communities and regions across the world.

5.Creating, fostering and ensuring NEXT GLOBAL OPPORTUNITY by helping economies improve their business environments, opening new markets, and by establishing conditions and addressing trade barriers to allow more exporters to compete and win abroad.

2
The Challenge

The major challenge in SolSourcer was scrapping all solicitations data from a lot of websites and developing independent scrappers for each such source that would regularly update our database of solicitations and tenders. And then analyzing TBs of Trade Data to produce charts that showed comparisons of various data sets to exporters and importers.

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3 solution
The Solution

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  R&D Budget $16,000 per month

  Project Duration 7 Months

  Resources 1 Engineer each for Business Analysis, Server, UI, QA, Big Data, DevOps & Project Management

  Methodology We use scrum, one of the most popular agile frameworks in a software development process.

With scrum, the product is built in a series of fixed-length iterations called sprints that give teams a framework for shipping software on a regular cadence. Milestones–i.e., the end of a sprint–come frequently, bringing with them a feeling of tangible progress with each cycle that focuses and energizes everyone. ("Continuous inspiration" for the win!) Short iterations also reinforce the importance of good estimation and fast feedback from tests–both recurring struggles in waterfall projects.

To start with, A product backlog is created which is a prioritized list of work for the development team that is derived from the roadmap and its requirements. The most important items are shown at the top of the product backlog so the team knows what to deliver first. The development team doesn't work through the backlog at the product owner's pace and the product owner isn't pushing work to the development team. Instead, the development team pulls work from the product backlog as there is capacity for it, by iteration in small units of time called sprints.

A well-prioritized agile backlog not only makes release and iteration planning easier, it broadcasts all the things your team intends to spend time on—including internal work that the customer will never notice. This helps set expectations with stakeholders and other teams, especially when they bring additional work to you, and makes engineering time a fixed asset. Scrum calls for four ceremonies that bring structure to each sprint:

• Sprint planning: A team planning meeting that determines what to complete in the coming sprint.
• Daily stand-up: Also known as a daily scrum, a 15-minute mini-meeting for the software team to sync.
• Sprint demo: A sharing meeting where the team shows what they've shipped in that sprint.
• Sprint retrospective: A review of what did and didn't go well with actions to make the next sprint better.

During a sprint, visual artifacts like task boards and burndown charts, visible to the team and spectators alike, are powerful motivators. They drive a spirit of "we're doing this!" Having the opportunity to show off new work at the sprint demo is equally motivating, and the consistent, incremental feedback the team gets from stakeholders at each demo creates a powerful way to develop products.

We used Atlassian’s JIRA which is the most used Agile tool worldwide to implement our scrum process.

In JIRA Software, you view sprints on a board and assign issues from the product backlog to sprints. You can search for issues in upcoming sprints using JQL (Sprint field). You can view the Sprint field on each individual issue as well, to see the sprint that an issue is part of. There are provisions for tagging issues in a sprint using epics and tags, defining versions and managing releases, getting feedback from stakeholders after each release, tracking code commits, code reviews and mergers, making sure all builds are passing and so on.

JIRA makes our lives easier as it has all the features and tools to implement a successful SCRUM process in a smooth way.

  Design A design process varies by the type of project, clients needs, team skill-level and experience, and other factors, as designers we keep our hands on to a handful of tools. These tools provide us a base for planning and brainstorming, help us communicate our ideas clearly, overcome technical hurdles to create stunning designs, and even simplify our interactions with developers. From advanced new design software tools to the traditional techniques, these are the tools our team has mastered on.

We use a combination of flowcharting tools, marvel, sketch, photoshop, mindmapping and other UI pencil,icon and stencil kits.

UI of Solsourcer was kept minimal to suit day to day work and more mobile-focused design. Enterprise applications require a higher level of involvement and knowledge of the system on the part of the user. They don’t just stumble upon the application, do their work and bounce off. They use it as a tool to perform critical business tasks in their daily work. In the end, they cannot easily discontinue using the application and switch to another if they don’t like how it’s working. Our design team made sure Solsourcer was user-friendly and reflected the purpose of the application in an intuitive and smart way.

  Developement The major challenge in SolSourcer was scrapping all solicitations data from a lot of websites and developing independent scrappers for each such source that would regularly update our database of solicitations and tenders. We used Node/PhantomJS for the scrappers to ensure Headless Browsing Scrapping and to scrap SPAs on Javascript.

The application code for Exporters and Importers sign up, solicitations management, bidding process, etc was developed using Python/Django and PosgreSQL.

Server - Python/Django, Node/PhantomJS, PosgreSQL, Celery, ElasticSearch, Gunicorn, Nginx, Redis
Web - HighCharts, Bootstrap, Moustache, Modernizer, jQuery, Vanilla JS, CSS, HTML5

  Quality Assurance Separating development and testing functions can help lower risk and improve application system quality. With the high costs associated with an ecommerce web portal implementation, it was critical to utilize an unbiased quality assurance (QA) and testing partner to ensure that the system works as expected.

Our team utilizes best practices spanning process improvement, technology and global outsourcing to help mitigate risk and realize greater return on such applications.

Our QA and testing experts build independent quality assurance blueprints that fit into our client’s overall project schedule, while providing an unbiased means of measuring application’s functionality, configuration and interoperability with other corporate systems.

  Deployment We used AWS EC2 instances, RDS for Databases, S3 and CloudFront CDN for images, load balancers and AMIS for balancing traffic and for Blue Green Deployment, Route53 for DNS Management, Solr initially and then elasticsearch for Instant Search.

  DevOps We used AWS EC2 instances, RDS for Databases, S3 and CloudFront CDN for images, load balancers and AMIS for balancing traffic and for Blue Green Deployment, Route53 for DNS Management, Solr initially and then elasticsearch for Instant Search.

  Maintenance & Upgrades As developers we know, there is much more to an application than turning it on and letting users enjoy it. You wouldn't purchase a new home without expecting to invest in maintenance jobs like painting, cleaning, mowing, etc. The same should be true for applications. You may want the latest, flashiest app features, but is that application maintainable over the long term? Our team offered custom designed maintenance plan for the clients. We made sure we covered for countless updates, improvements and fixes. We are the prescient development partners and help our clients plan ahead.