SoftLogic Solutions works with a variety of different businesses, including leading Australian glass manufacturer Viridian Glass.
Viridian manufacture and deliver glass around Australian with many suppliers selling their product. As a result, you can imagine they have several different systems that need to talk to each other, from quoting to production line to logistics.
The separation of Viridian from former parent company CSR left them with a wide variety of technologies in their most critical line-of-business applications and no development resources to maintain them.
Softlogic Solutions were able to fill this gap efficiently because we draw on a range to staff/resources so that we can cover all the required technologies and skills.
Custom Software Components & Environment
Viridian have a number of custom software programs that they are dependent on to keep critical systems running smoothly day in and day out. Some of these have been running for nearly 10 years and connections between the systems have been added over the years as new capabilities or needs were introduced to their business.
The four systems that needed to be maintained were:
- An EDI and Online Order processing and translation platform for the manufacturing resource system (Viewpoint Services and Monitoring Portal connecting to LISEC Glass system)
- A detailed product pricing system for their vendors to self-service with queries and pricing. The system caters to a large inventory of product as well as price variations depending on location (LISEC Pricing Web Portal)
- An internal tool to support staff to calculate certain glass characteristics as part of the manufacturing specifications to meet a specific in the field need (Tech Online)
- An online secure portal to allow clients to order directly with Viridian, along with order status reporting. (Customer Ordering Portal)
Platform and language
- Developed over a long period of time the 4 packages consisted of a variety of technologies.
- ASP.Net, WCF, WPF, Windows Services, Win32 Applications
- C#.Net and VB.Net
- SQL Server.
Key challenges and issues
This program of work started with several specific issues that needed to be addressed as part of the overall support and maintenance program for Viridian.
- Although Viridian are a large manufacturing company, they do not have a big internal software team. Their focus is on manufacturing of course, and there would be a number of challenges in trying to build a team to support these tools. For example, many developers do not view maintenance work as having many career opportunities, so it is hard to retain the services of a good developer over a long period of time.
- The Viridian program of work does not support the need for a full-time staff member, nor for multiple staff with a variety of skill sets. This is often a key reason for a large manufacturing business to not invest in software development and maintenance staff as it poses ongoing struggles to keep staff with the necessary depth of skills required for the job.
Outsourcing to SoftLogic Solutions gave them the best of both worlds with access to the deep and varied skills that are required for their systems, as well as experience in project management, business analysis, testing and quality assurance. We provide these to Viridian as part of a fixed monthly cost, with transparent reporting and none of the usual continuity of hiring and skill development.
- A need for robust processes, particularly around version control and testing to ensure the continuity and required SLAs for these mission critical custom programs.
- To future proof and provide quality assurance for all the systems with detailed documentation from installation to testing agreements to SLAs and ongoing maintenance program.
- Provide them with full visibility and reporting on the workflow and status of all bugs and enhancements across all platforms through a Ticketing system, which also would allow them to reprioritise work as needed.
How we worked with Viridian
SoftLogic Solutions has a well-worn path to ‘robust reliability’ for a custom software support and maintenance. For Viridian, we used this very process to get to a point of trust in our understanding of the systems and the operational reliability of the programs. This is how we went about getting to this point with Viridian.
Phase 1 – Discovery
- Gathering of information from Viridian to build the SoftLogic Solutions’ understanding
of the software architecture, business processes, and how to test that they are operating
- Documentation review and an investigation by the SoftLogic Solutions
of the systems to understand any gaps as well as a deep dive into the development environments, APIs, source code, staging systems, test procedures and finalisation of support and maintenance requirements.
Phase 2 – Handover
- SoftLogic Solutions assembled the necessary dashboards, processes, and skilled tech team to support Viridian
- Part of the process is a familiarisation of our software development team with the code
base and architecture. We also took the time to talk with the previous developers to fill out our knowledge.
- Design and set up of Staging environment. This involved connecting to Dev/Staging in a secure manner that allows the workflow and testing regimen to be undertaken – all remotely – so our team can support Viridian any time of the day, any time of the year.
- Complete documentation on these environments was also created so that there is both visibility and continuity with the environment going forward. Keeping this documentation up to date is always part of a program of work for our clients.
- Detailed and complex testing plans and cases were created, along with bringing in the relevant subject matter experts at Viridian to be a part of the process.
Phase 3 – Transition to Support Operations
- Ongoing SoftLogic Solutions set up ongoing Level 3 support for the Viridian programs. A direct ticketing system now allows staff to immediately log an issue, and an escalation process is in place so that no matter when, problems can be addressed as appropriate.
- SoftLogic Solutions is also now investigating Business Requirements for new functionality and proposing ways of implementing up to date web application on top of existing IP that would be costly to replicate. We could only do this kind of work because of the knowledge we now have of their systems.