The Gunner Team breaks down the project
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What was the problem to be solved?
Too often companies learn of customer satisfaction too late to fix the problem.
Additionally, creating and seding out surveys is a hassle and a lot of work and survey response rate is often poor.
Even when a survey is completed, the data only represents a given point in time.
And finally, It can be difficult to know what action is needed when negative survey trends are noted.
What was the proposed solution?
In order to solve these problems, companies need to continuously survey their customers easily and affordably by providing customer authorized instant survey for a high rate of return.
The data from these surveys needs to be readily available in real-time trends that allow companies to drill down into specifics on a management dashboard.
What challenges arose during the project?
Time series data can be challenging to wrangle.
Many development shops make the mistake of building early versions of an application that requires time series data the quick way and put off "figuring out how to scale Big Data."
The team at Gunner knew from the start the SimpliSurvey would soon be hosting tons of data as it is an SaaS proudct that will house data for many organizations.
Additionally, as simplicity is one of the big selling points of the platform the UI team at Gunner needed to create a simple and efficient UI for each type of user in the platform, including:
Finally, the platform requires both a web app for the administrative dashboard and for respondents to take the surveys as well as a native app for users to be able to send surveys to respondents.
This meant the Gunner development and infrastructure teams would need to support two different clients.
What was the technical approach to the project?
"Time series can be intimiating," Gunner Technology DevOps Engineer, Ethan Sloan, said. "Fortunately, we've built several IoT apps that handled way more data in 10 minutes than SimpliSurvey can handle in a year."
The infrastructure team decided to start with Amazon DynamoDB as the master source.
All survey responses will be written into a DynamoDB with the organization id as the partition key and the date as the sort key.
This should provide the flexibility and performance to manage up to 10,000 clients with 100 or more survey responses per day.
"It used to be that new companies couldn't afford to pay for Scalability out of the gate," Gunner Technology CEO, Cody Swann, said. "With Amazon Web Services, we can build a world-class infastructure that will be there when we need it, but not cost us anything until we do."
To address the issue of UI, the Gunner team focused on building simple campaign templates for new administrators to pick from.
Rather than wadding into unfamiliar waters and having to figure out how to build a survey campaign, the new admin could just choose and existing one.
"Too much right at signup can be intimidating," Gunner designer Cory Schneider said. "No one wants to spend time figuring out how to set things up. They want to create an account and get going."
Much the same for users.
"For users, we wanted them to download the app, sign in and be two steps away from sending a survey," Schneider said. "No extra fluff."
For the survey themselves, the UI is based on the familar "Pain Scale" and defaults to a five-point scale.
"Response rate is so big with this product," Swann said. "And we found the more options - 'Very, extremely, positively satisfied' - the less likely someone was to actually fill it out. But we still needed enough options for the data to be relevant."
Lastly, Gunner uses a trio of technologies to make managing the backend and two seperate frontends as quick and easy as possible.
Swann said the Serverless Framework makes building and managing multi-stage, backend environments with AWS CloudFormation a snap while AWS Amplify did the same for the frontend while AWS AppSync provided a way to manage a flexible GraphQL API.
What was the project management approach to the project?
In this case, the team knew it had approximately two months to complete this platform.
With that in mind, the management team worked with stakeholders to list user stories for all the features the platform would need.
After that, the management team worked with the product team to estimate Effort Points for each user story on a 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 point scale.
The team added all the points to arrive at a total Effort Point level for the entire project.
Knowing they had two months to tackle that total level, the management team was able to look at the available development resources and their Velocity score (how many Effort Points they can complete in a single iteration), and put together a team that could complete the project in less than two months.
Each iteration is a week, and the management team will know immediately if the team is ahead or behind schedule and can adjust resources as necessary.
What platform was built for this project?
As with most projects, the team used CloudFormation and the Serverless Framework to manage the backend, which included:
For the frontend, the team leveraged the AWS Amplify framework, which helped create the AWS AppSync backend with a GraphQL API that the React and React Native clients used to communicate with the backend.
What did you learn from working on this project?
More so than ever, this project enforced the notion that process and platform is of the utmost importance.
SimpliSurvey would normally have been an extensive project because of the upfront requirements around the infastructure and dual clients.
However, because the Gunner team has invested in tools provided by Amazon Web Services as well as Open Source technologies like Expo, React and React Native, the developers and start coding immediately as opposed to a month or more after the project starts.
This allows our developers to do more with less without sacrificing Velocity or quality.
Why was Gunner selected for this project?
AZ Tech is a long-standing Gunner Technology partner.
Together, the companies have built several platforms and apps in the medical and social space.
AZ Tech knows Gunner will build what they need they way they need it.
What tools, techniques and methodologies were used on this project?