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"4th Source did not approach the project as just being a body shop, where there would be a pool of resources that we could use for simple development tasks....4th Source, on their own, was creative enough to develop a process to automate a lot of that type of work, saving us both time and money."    ~ Pete Marra, CEO of Servant Interactive  

 

 

About Servant Interactive

Over two-thirds of the world does not have access to quality reading materials…

…which was the motivation for Servant Interactive to build a Learning Management System (LMS) that could deliver any type of written content to any device. That, and the ever-increasing technology education initiatives here in the U.S. The company could serve a real market need while realizing their philanthropic goals.

The Challenge

Servant Interactive originally hired an offshore team from Asia, who did what they were asked – build the LMS. Populating said LMS with thousands of documents, on the other hand, created a problem that stopped the project in its tracks. 

The offshore team couldn’t come up with a solution for content conversion. Without ready content, Servant Interactive risked missing publisher deadlines. Servant Interactive was left to figure out and manage technical challenges.

The Project

Develop a way to populate the LMS with content before the upcoming school year.

Servant Interactive called on 4th Source to pick up the pieces, provide a content conversion solution, and speed up the delivery process to make the looming school-year deadline. Work included:

  • Converting tens of thousands of pages to an interactive digital format
  • Taking over project management: manage 3 development teams (including the offshore development team)
  • Developing on the platform to meet deadlines
  • QA within the platform
  • Completing the project on time and on budget

 

Snags happen. Powering through takes a digital strong approach 

(and sometimes a custom-built automation process for faster delivery)

Content conversion was one of the most complex components of the LMS build, and was causing a major bottleneck. Publishing companies had fixed deadlines (the beginning of the school year) to provide content, but would only provide pdf files of the written materials. Those files had to be transformed into interactive digital content. The process involved converting huge volumes of curriculum and content that were constantly being added to the system. Manual work was not an option.

The 4th Source team was able to take the content conversion portion of the project off Servant Interactive’s hands by developing a process to automate conversion work.

The team also provided extra capacity in development, merging with an already-existing partner development team, and in-house developers. In less than two weeks, the bottlenecks were broken, and the project was up and running. Timelines shrank down to hit publisher deadlines.

“Because 4th Source partnered into the broader mission of what we were doing, they did this on their own as a way to serve us. It was something that we didn’t even ask for. It made a huge difference for us to be able to get that work done on time.” ~ Pete Marra, CEO of Servant Interactive 

 

4th Source takes part in the mission

The challenges that come into play when you’re trying to select a software partner include location and the ability to clearly communicate. Servant Interactive first looked at resources in India, but had a difficult time trying to find a partner who understood their business needs and who could creatively contribute to the project.

With 4th Source, communication was never an issue.

The 4th Source team was fully engaged from the beginning. They met with Servant Interactive in person to get on the same page, learning both the technical and business implications of the project.

The result was a shortened cycle time as our team committed to the broader mission, which was to launch an education platform to the world.

 

More than just a body shop. Partnering on every level

A challenge for Servant Interactive, as a startup, was the maturity of their IT staff. They asked 4th Source to add a project management discipline in order to deliver the LMS on time. A key project management was to manage other vendor teams as part of a fully integrated project.

“With 4th Source’s ability to lead our teams, we actually became stronger.”  ~ Pete Marra, CEO

4th Source provided

  • Daily huddles with all teams
  • Mature processes
  •  Technical knowledge expertise
  • Schedule management
  • Budget and resource management

The difference of experienced QA engineers

Through the use of automated tools, and very rigorous processes, our team was able to QA the toolset and find problems Servant Interactive wasn’t able to initially uncover. This lead to a smoother project execution, streamlining the content conversion process.

“In my interactions with 4th Source, as a CEO, who had to provide updates to my board, and to my investors, it was great to have somebody who I could have a good conversation about where the project was at, where we were at from a financial standpoint, and trust the people that I was working with.” ~ Pete Marra, CEO

 

Takeaways

Hiring an offshore team has its drawbacks. Costs appear lower at first, but when you account for communication issues, and the inability of many offshore teams to solve problems on the fly, costs rise.

4th Source adopts a culture of service excellence, a cost-savings neashore model (with some of the most talented, creative teams in North America), and both technical and problem-solving expertise.

That's what we call digital strong, and every day we help more companies are working with us to get there. Start your path by clicking the button below.

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