Successful Partnership with ISV in Product Development Lifecycle

This case study explores the evolution of a business relationship between a US based Mid size ISV in enterprise social software domain and Harbinger Systems

successful-partnership-with-isv-in-product-development-lifecycle

History

The company (let's call it 'Anonymous Inc.' for confidentiality reasons) was started in 2006 in East Coast. Anonymous is a leading provider of enterprise social software solutions and services serving the learning, marketing and customer experience markets. Their flagship product is an enterprise social business software suite that helps organizations to create, design, manage social and knowledge sharing experiences that meet and exceed their unique business needs, all from one platform.

Business Challenges

As a Mid-Sized ISV, the challenges faced by Anonymous Inc. were -

  • Adaptability - The software industry is moving forwards in leaps and bounds, as a mid size ISV the need to reinvent themselves according to the constant upgradation in technologies was of utmost importance
  • Time to Market - It was critical to utilize the first mover advantage especially in the enterprise software solutions space
  • Operational efficiency - The need to judiciously utilize the available resources while still ensuring the high quality of its products, services and support

Outsourcing - An Introspection

While outsourcing was expected to address many of the challenges, Anonymous Inc. was extremely cautious before taking a decision.

Business Risks

The decision was critical because of the business risks which included -

  • Compromise on the quality of their product
  • Incorrect usage of precious funds
  • Time - Put them back by a couple of months if they had to in source the entire piece from the partner
  • Lose the competitive advantage that their product had as an early entrant in the market
  • Lose the competitive advantage that their product had as an early entrant in the market
  • Data Security

The management at Anonymous Inc. concluded that they needed a trusted Technology Partner who understood their organizational DNA and not merely a Service Provider who would agree to anything and everything that they said.

The Start Of A Relationship

Harbinger's relationship started in 2006, when Anonymous was at a transitional stage from a mid size startup to a growth stage company. Anonymous first engagement with Harbinger Systems was integrating Harbinger's Offline Content Player with its LMS. Anonymous had plans to integrate a 3rd party Offline Content Player with their Learning Management System (LMS). Harbinger's Offline Player was the perfect contender considering the product's capabilities and Harbinger's proven expertise in the e-Learning domain and experience in partnering with leading LMS companies.

When Anonymous started off the relationship with Harbinger Systems, like many other mid-size ISVs, they had initial reservations about Harbinger's ability to understand their needs and deliver effective solutions.

The reservations soon transformed into a confidence in Harbinger's abilities. Anonymous realized that Harbinger was a partner that most ISVs could only aspire for.

Anonymous acknowledged that they found this partnership beneficial for a number of reasons -

  • Harbinger's strong technical abilities and the desire to continuously push the technology boundaries
  • Harbinger was right-sized - small enough to be nimble to adjust to the changing business requirements yet large enough to carry out innovations
  • Experience with startups and mid-size ISVs - Harbinger, in its 16 year history until then had worked with multiple startups and mid-size ISVs in US and was perfectly tuned in to the ISV DNA
  • As a product company, it clearly understood the first mover advantage that an innovative product gave to its customers and investors

The Journey

What started off as a single project association eventually scaled up to multiple projects relationship. Anonymous was happy that Harbinger's value addition to their business increased multi-fold as this relationship progressed.

The timeline below elaborates how the relationship grew over a 6+ year's period.

Presented Here Are The Key Highlights Of Our Engagements With Anonymous:

The work comprised of core feature development and customizations, product & patch upgrades, testing and professional support.

Key project highlights include:

  • Harbinger's expertise in graphics and user interface design helped in designing and implementing an intuitive and impressive UI for the Social Applications
  • Extensive experience in ExtJS and JSON technology helped in building reusable social application components in a short turnaround time
  • Development of new product features for various versions of their flagship product
  • Upgrading client's application instances and databases for both Enterprise (Hosted) and ODL (cloud-based) customers
  • Customizing the hosted LMS & Social Media applications to provide specific custom features required by the customers
  • Developing and customizing reports using Reporting tools - Actuate and MicroStrategy
  • Creating and executing test plans and test cases for core features, customizations and product upgrades
  • Providing solutions and technical assistance to issues reported by the customers. Solutions include bug fixes, workarounds, and help guidelines

Technology Stack

The work comprised of core feature development and customizations, product & patch upgrades, testing and professional support.

Key project highlights include:

  • Java/J2EE
  • Spring framework 3.0
  • JQuery
  • PL/SQL
  • XML, XSL, HTML
  • CSS
  • ExtJS
  • JSON
  • WinSCP
  • Cygwin
  • SVN
  • CVS
  • Actuate
  • Microstrategy reporting too
  • Manual and Automation testing

Harbinger Differentiators For This Engagement Comprised Of:

  • Recognized thought leadership and expertise in the e-Learning domain
  • Cutting edge and innovative eLearning products such as Offline Player, Raptivity, Elicitus
  • Successfully proven long-term experience in partnering with leading Learning Management System (LMS) companies
  • Contribution to standards bodies such as AICC for the CMI Specification

Harbinger Systems team partnered with Anonymous and executed all projects with 100% offshore teams.

An example - During a meeting, Anonymous shared that their latest product version had lost some functionality and consistency when it was migrated from the previous version. The security and access/permission structure was becoming confusing to Clients. Critical competitive capabilities were also absent in the product.

To overcome the limitations of the product, new concepts of Domain, Experience and Presentation were implemented. A strong yet loosely coupled application was built using Spring 3.0 framework. The integration issues between different frameworks were resolved. Benefits offered by JQuery in terms of performance and flexibility led to client's approval.

Harbinger has always strived to go beyond the defined scope of the project and deliver world-class solutions using their innovative approach to technology.

Here is what the leadership team at Anonymous had to say about this relationship -

Our partnership with Harbinger Group has provided Anonymous with access to many skilled resources to augment our in-house development efforts across our social media, customer support and learning products. We have leveraged the company to assist with software development, research efforts and quality assurance.

We have maintained a successful partnership with the Harbinger Group for many years and have been extremely satisfied with the dedicated team of employees assigned to our projects. The resources provided by Harbinger have assisted us with software development, research efforts, quality assurance, and testing efforts and have continually demonstrated a true partnership by offering us the flexibility required in our fast paced environment without sacrificing quality of work.

The Road Ahead

In all these years, the relationship with Anonymous has grown manifold. Harbinger has been a perfect partner to assure success for Anonymous. This partnership has entered its ninth year and Harbinger continues to enjoy the patronage of its esteemed partner.