feature built a complex credential processing web app from scratch, handling both frontend and backend work. Assigned resources also migrated the framework to ReactJS to better handle the vast amount data.
"feature did very good on delivering what we needed from a technical standpoint."
feature produced a functional app which is currently in a final testing phase. Overcoming internal roadblocks and helping streamline processes for third-party collaboration makes the relationship a success. They have strong developers which even created demos for showing to potential clients.
OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE
What challenge were you trying to address with feature?
feature was an add-on to our provider data management application. It was an intelligent app for the creation of credentialing forms for providers. Physicians across the US have to go through a credentialing effort every three years or every time they change their contracts and somehow change their business model. It’s a verification process where the insurance companies are required to have a third party review it. This app is the accumulation of all of that data. We had our internal resources tied up, so we looked at an option of having a partner help us create that.
What was the scope of their involvement?
They built from scratch a computerized app that leveraged all of our provider data. When a physician has to get a credential, they come to our site. We pull all the information in for them so that we eliminate any fat-fingered errors in data, and the user can then attest to the information and forward on. It makes it easier for the user and everybody else.
We leverage APIs in the backend to be able to push and pull information. They created a brand new set of APIs for us to be able to push and pull that data from our core data streams. On the frontend of it, it’ll be the first UI [user interface] component that goes live which was built on React. We’re changing over from AngularJS to React as an organization. In their engagement with us, part of what took up most of 2016 was making sure that they had the toolsets that they needed from our UI library that was React-enabled. They did a lot of work with our team trying to build out a toolkit from what we had with AngularJS to what we knew with React. It was really a byproduct of their engagement with us that we had that particular need, and they helped us build up the toolkit associated with the UI and React.
feature worked with us on our requirements and built up the backend and frontend. They built the frontend and backend of a brand new app that resides on our portal from scratch. I probably couldn’t give you the full spec, but React was the core UI component and probably Java or something like that for the backend.
In 2016, I believe they had six resources that were working on the project. Some of those were developers, UI experts, UX [user experience] experts, and QA specialists, along with some members of their management team who were given access and used our system. We modified our contract with them going into 2017 just because of what we had from a budgeting standpoint, and they dropped that down to three people per our request.
I was the high-level contact that worked with Mike, the CEO, from an executive standpoint, trying to make sure that all of our needs and desires were understood and to figure out exactly the problem we were trying to solve and how we needed to do so. One of my team members was tagged to them for the full requirements gathering process, so they had somebody from our organization to deal with on a day-to-day basis. We also had a lead technical resource from our team that worked with them on the technical issues, making sure that their backend designs merged well with the style that Availity uses for those connections.
How did you come to work with feature?
They are very engaged in the Jacksonville area where we’re headquartered, so they knew several of our employees. When we needed to look at a third-party company for this work, we looked at three different organizations. We ended up choosing feature because of their location as well as their technical background and ability to operate in our current environment. Their price was very competitive as well. They worked very closely with me from an expense standpoint to make sure that I could fit the work into our annual budgets. They’re very flexible on how the engagement is financed, which made it really easy for me to choose them.
How much have you invested with feature?
We have spent somewhere around $750,000 between 2016 and 2017.
What is the status of this engagement?
I believe it was at the end of the third quarter of 2016 where we signed the contract and started working directly with them.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We haven’t actually gone live with the product yet so I can’t give you any statistics. It’s in its final phases of testing, and we are looking to deploy it out in June. So far, it has allowed our other teams to focus on some very critical UX and backend work that needed to be done on our core app. From my standpoint, being able to free up all of my resources and not tie them up on a brand-new app was a huge benefit. Beyond that, I don’t have a whole lot of statistics to go by.
How did feature perform from a project management standpoint?
Availity has almost exclusively used its own resources. We have not been successful with using third parties, so I spent a lot of time with their executive team understanding the limitations and gaps in knowledge that we have. It was going to be a big effort to work with us in a remote capacity but within our development environment. They actually did a very good job of helping us through the process and worked closely with us on what was keeping them from being as productive as they could. They also helped us with our internal processes in order to streamline them to include a third party. They did a fantastic job from that standpoint. Again, one of the reasons why I felt so comfortable in working directly with them was because they knew that they were walking into an organization that historically had not successfully used any third party for development.
They used a couple of tools to manage this project. I think the biggest core tool that we used was Basecamp. They also gave us short-term access to their Docio® product as a way to be able to look at how the hours were accumulating. Those are the two that I was aware of, but I don’t know if there were others that were used between the technical teams themselves.
What did you find most impressive about feature?
They were incredibly helpful in working with us to build the right atmosphere for dealing with a third party. We knew we were going to struggle and were very clear about that upfront, just because of the nature of our particular business. They did a fantastic job of working with us from day one, trying to make it as smooth as possible.
We received ongoing communication on the status of the project. As we had a specific lack of requirements in particular areas, they would continue to move forward with temporary solutions that helped us. Instead of just a dead stop, they would continue moving forward with what they felt like was the best solution on a particular problem that we were dealing with, which was really helpful. If we would have been working with somebody else, we probably would just now be starting, but we’re now at the tail end of that project. They were very good in working with us through all of our requirements and the status of where we were at when we engaged with them, as far as the actual software requirement gathering.
Are there any areas feature could improve?
At this point, I don’t have anything from an improvement standpoint. They did a great job of communicating and they also did very good on delivering what we needed from a technical standpoint. They even worked with us when we needed demos to put together to show to potential clients. I have nothing but praise for what they did for us and continue to do right now.
"feature is a top-notch organization. They are really strong developers in UX, and their management team is very solid. I would definitely recommend them." -Mark Martin, Product Management, Availity