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Purchasing workflow and subscription management.

Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Development
    Tom Fleming

Success meant they needed new automation for their process.

Unable to keep up with manually processing a high volume of new and existing B2B customer requests, DEEP Information Sciences (DeepIS) asked Last Call Media to build an online self-service subscription management service on top of their Drupal 7 site.

The service needed to enable customers to create an account, provide necessary marketing metadata for DeepIS’ marketing team, and guide customers through the sales process from subscription estimation to subscription purchase, renewal, and upgrade. Customers also needed to access content related to their service, DeepSQL, online in real time. 

Leveraging AngularJS, LCM built a seamless custom subscription purchasing workflow app to guide the user through the dynamic purchasing workflow by feeding and pulling data as necessary to and from HubSpot, their marketing automation tool; SalesForce, their CRM; and Zuora, their subscription management service.

The custom subscription calculator in the AngularJS app pulled in data in real time from Zuora, using Zuora’s APIs, so users were presented with the most up-to-date pricing. Once the purchasing workflow was complete, the user’s card was charged and they received an email with their receipt and license key moments later, all without needing to speak to a DeepIS representative.

This implementation solved the problem where a prospective customer had to email or call DeepIS to purchase a subscription and manage their account. The new online workflow slashed the conversion time by eliminating the need to call DeepIS to purchase a subscription, increased customer satisfaction, and significantly increased revenue for DeepIS. With the biggest barrier to conversion eliminated, users were now clicks away from purchasing a subscription.

Further, with event-triggered email campaigns using HubSpot, DeepIS was able to strategically nurture customers on the trial or free plan to upgrade to a paid plan. Data from SalesForce, Drupal, and Zuora was fed to HubSpot email campaigns, increasing the likelihood of a user purchasing a paid subscription. The emails had a unique URL generated by SalesForce, and the user could provide their credit card information and upgrade their subscription with a few clicks.

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Delivering a high stakes MVP.

Processes
  • Agile/Kanban
  • Agile/Scrum
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Tom Fleming

Following a branding initiative, Designow worked with Last Call Media to build and launch the initial release of a complex crowdfunding platform on Drupal.

When we began, initial prototyping and feature development had already been started. As is often the case, much of the prototyping had made its way into substantial portions of what was now the project’s foundational work. It had become difficult to determine exactly what was completely done, what was partially done, and what requirements had been left out along the way.

We used our expertise in Agile methodologies to bring order to complexity and the product to launch. We began by building and prioritizing a backlog of tasks, and getting high-priority tasks into a ready state by defining appropriate definitions of done. We focused on implementing strategies for limiting the work in progress present in the project when we started. We forecasted a few sprint goals, informed by our backlog development and resulting strategies, and quickly went into heavy development.

Immediate visibility for stakeholders into development progress became of major importance for their own ability to make quick business decisions concerning their investment. In order to maximize the value of the work, we adapted our initial Scrum iteration approach into shorter, one-week sprints of continuous delivery to get small groups of completed tasks out faster. This soon evolved into more of an ideal Kanban flow, allowing a continuous awareness and continuous delivery of the right value.

Since the initial release, LCM and Designow have continuously measured and inspected valuable feedback. Our work is ongoing, as the product is currently receiving regular releases of new features and refinements.

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Disrupting the storage industry.

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Architect
    Kelly Albrecht

All College Storage had an idea for a brand new online business. They wanted students from a university to be able to schedule the pickup, storage, and delivery of their dorm items over the summer. Items would be picked up at the students old dorm, then delivered to the new dorm at a requested date and time.

In addition to a full branding treatment, we developed a solution for students to reserve and configure when and where their items would be picked up and delivered.

An iPad point of sale interface was also developed for employees to process payment for each customer during pickup time as well as to manage all business workflow. All College Storage soon became the premier moving and storage solution for students in Western Mass.

The business was a success from day one, soon expanding from five colleges to eleven colleges and four prep schools, and it continues to succeed and expand.

Following this model, LCM assisted All College Inc. in replicating the successes with All College Storage to another startup for laundry service, called All College Laundry.

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Getting FITiST fit to startup.

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Rob Bayliss

FITiST is a fitness and lifestyle business that sells a single membership valid at all gyms in a city. The database needed to compile a schedule of all FiTiST-affiliated classes, provide tokens for customer registration, and charge a recurring fee for the membership.

We developed an eCommerce solution that compiles classes from from FITiST-connected gyms into a member-facing scheduling interface, as well as a recurring token payment system to handle class registration purchases.

FITiST became a success in NYC and soon expanded its operation to LA with plans for five more cities to follow.

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Finder’s performance boost with an improved release process

Finder helps millions of people worldwide make better decisions by allowing them to compare a wide range of products and services. Finding the right credit card, buying a home, or getting health insurance can be a daunting task. Finder.com makes the research more straightforward, and consequently, can save users time and money.  

Since a major part of Finder’s business is to compare numerous products, Finder.com needs to provide users with tools that are quick and easy to use, while still displaying a wealth of dynamic information. In order to accomplish this goal and give users a great experience, Finder’s team of developers needs to be able to continuously improve the platform, iterate quickly to regularly evaluate what it is that delights users, and drives engagement for the platform. 

Last Call Media supports Finder’s efforts to build an exceptional digital experience for its users within the WordPress platform. We also helped their software development team rethink the way they deploy to production.

How we did it

On a daily basis, dozens of developers work simultaneously on Finder.com, adding new functionality, fixing bugs, and creating new ways to provide value to users. As the team scales, it is faced with several challenges around managing the deployment pipeline. 

Until recently, developers were often limited and blocked by a complicated build process, where any code change would take about 12-16min to go live. Making that change often required modifying multiple repositories since all the themes and plugins were split and could not be fully decoupled. Deploying to staging environments was a manual process, and code reviews required lengthy instructions and thus were error-prone. The developer that authored a change, needed to remember to merge all repositories for a successful deployment or risk bringing down the site. 

Speeding up the deployment process 

An ineffective deployment pipeline can easily add up to hundreds of hours of time a month waiting for a build to complete that could have been spent on delivering other functionality instead. The development workflow should be smooth with stumbling blocks removed. Since Finder’s engineering team is growing rapidly, this problem needed to be addressed first. 

To speed up time to market, we overhauled the build process at Finder. We implemented Buildkite to enable continuous integration in a more efficient way. As a result, build time decreased by more than 50%, to only 8min. 

This increased efficiency sped up the process for Finder’s developers to get their work onto staging environments and out to production, and in the hands of customers.

Finder-main

Offering stability to the development team

Another challenge for Finder was the stability and time it took to deploy a hotfix to production. If multiple developers were trying to deploy to the product at the same time, they would often frustratingly block each other, further increasing everyone’s time to production. 

To release this functionality, we identified and rearranged certain key jobs so they could be run in parallel. We also identified build steps that could be made more efficient. For example, there were many jobs downloading the same libraries, and when the Docker image was built in the end, these libraries were again downloaded, synchronously. By limiting this, speed was improved significantly.

In the end, speeding up the build process, meant increased stability, and a decreased time to deploy a hotfix. 

Building comparison tables

In addition to platform work, Finder brought Last Call Media on board to help improve their comparison tables. Finder’s business model requires them to accurately connect users with relevant products. If a user with a “poor” credit score tries to apply to a credit card that only accepts “very good” scores, they’ll waste their time, and Finder will not be succeeding in its mission to connect users to relevant products. The tables were written in legacy JavaScript, HTML, and CSS and we worked to rebuild the tables in modern React, adding modals on top of the tables to surface the most important data filters to the user first.

Now, after users make an initial selection, they can see the most relevant results for their case. We added advanced interactive features such as calculators to the top of tables so users can input data relevant to their personal circumstances and see automatically calculated savings for each product.

Finder-tables

Taking advantage of the WordPress platform and Buildkite, Last Call Media empowered Finder’s development team to deploy to production efficiently. The improved build process enabled developers to get their work to production and in the hands of customers much quicker. Additionally, Finder’s comparison tables now present results to users that are personalized making their experience so much more satisfactory. 

Now, Finder has a path forward to build stable, interactive comparison tools for users in a highly iterative way.

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Making it easier to deploy frontend applications.

Processes
  • Agile/Kanban
Team Leadership

Last Call Media developed a microfrontend strategy with Finder’s in-house developers. Using Next.js and Docker, Last Call Media worked to make it easier for engineers at Finder to build, test, and deploy small frontend applications, like tables, that are completely independent of each other, while styled using Finder’s sitewide library of React components.

Finder needs to provide users with tools -like interest calculators- that are quick and easy to use, while still displaying a wealth of information. Because this is a core part of the business, Finder’s large global team of engineers need to be able to iteratively improve these comparison tools based on customer feedback, and test their changes to see what works best to drive user engagement.

As an example of this, Finder asked Last Call to improve their comparison tables. The tables were written in legacy JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. We worked to rebuild the tables in modern React, adding modals on top of the tables to surface the most important data filters to the user first, so that, after selected, they’d see the most relevant results. We added advanced interactive features such as calculators to the top of tables so users can input data relevant to their personal circumstances and see automatically calculated savings for each product. 

Finder now has a path forward to build stable, highly-interactive comparison tools for users in a highly iterative way.