How we work #3: a client project
By Rory Walsh

This post takes a look at an example of how nearForm works with clients to plan and execute large-scale enterprise platforms.

 The client

London School of Marketing (LSM) is a leading UK educational institution that offers accredited marketing and business qualifications. LSM approached nearForm about re-designing their online education platform.

The brief

LSM needed to replace their existing monolithic system with a rapid innovation platform that allowed them to roll out new features quickly. nearForm drew up a solution that would enable LSM to make a strategic technology shift to Node.js and microservices as core technologies.

The challenges

To say this was a demanding project is an understatement. There were multiple parties involved, with locations spanning the globe, and a tight project time frame. nearForm’s graphic artist created this infographic to illustrate the complexity of the job:

As shown at the top of the graphic, the client and the vendor were not the only parties in the project. The third company was Interlink, who had been responsible for the old LSM system. Good communication with Interlink was essential for the purposes of the technical handover.

The delivery architect concept

Careful coordination and management are key requirements to the success of a project of this complexity. To fulfill these requirements, nearForm introduced the key new role of delivery architect (DA).

The DA is a combination of the traditional project manager and a software developer. He or she has a range of cross-disciplinary skills, including client relationships, front end and dev ops, and also has deep expertise as a software developer. This is in accordance with the ‘t-shaped’ skills model.

In the LSM project, the DA liaised with the client in the design and kick-off phases, served as the communication channel between nearForm, LSM and Interlink, was the client’s main point of contact with nearForm, and kept the globally distributed team on track throughout the project, while also working on code.

The design principles

nearForm values a high level of engineering discipline and evidence-based execution in the software it creates. It has a policy of creating a sound architecture before a line of code is written.

Based on these key values, the project team decided on the following design principles:

  • Mobile first
    • The new platform feels like a native app on any device.
  • Cloud-based
    • The platform leverages the benefits of cloud – continuous smooth delivery of new features, global availability, seamless scalability – while delivering measurable outcomes.
  • High performance
    • The platform scales with the client’s business while remaining lightning-fast for users.
  • The business result

    The client received a modern, agile, ultra-usable online education platform that can quickly and easily adapt to business growth, changing markets and new business drivers, while continuously delivering new features to customers.

    Also, thanks to nearForm’s policy of co-development – that is, working with the client rather than for the client – LSM now has sufficient technical expertise to in-source its software development.




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