Project 3: 1.0 Software Build: closing report

This project is to build the first release of the current paperight.com. Key technical outputs planned:

  • Complete basic frontend components: landing, registration and profile pages; account-credit-top-up page; catalogue page; licence-purchase page; manage-licences page; manage-metadata page.
  • Complete basic backend components: account-credit management; user-search-and-manage page; doc-search-and-manage page; licence-search-and-manage page; PDF-watermarking (shop name, customer name, date, URL ID).

General report-back

After a great deal of careful planning and briefing, this project went extremely well. It ran a couple of months late, which is not unusual for software projects of this nature. Importantly, we built what we needed and achieved our objectives.

Objectives achieved

Planned: “… contract Realm Digital to build a revenue-generating site that will sell instant, automatic licences with content. … ensure that the site is built to accommodate a database of millions of titles, and a range of future enhancements, including devolved user-management, publisher self-service, and API plugins.”

This was achieved.

Objectives not achieved

None.

Measures of success

Before: “We expect immediately on launch to see outlets respond positively to improvements in speed and ease of using 1.0 over 0.5.”

After: Achieved. Getting outlets to sign up with Paperight at all was much easier after the new site launched.

Before: “we’d like to see them using the site on their own for buying content for customers, for content we haven’t explicitly told them about, and visiting more often per month than they visited 0.5. (Outlets have already used 0.5 without guidance for content they’ve found themselves.”

After: This did happen, and has continued since.

Before: “we’d love to see more than a dozen new outlets registering and using the site based on word of mouth, without our active promotion and guidance. (We’ve already had half a dozen registrations on 0.5. So we are confident of far exceeding this number with 1.0.”

After: We actively signed up 117 outlets within four months. In addition, 15 signed up by word of mouth, slightly exceeding our planned measure.

Budget

Original budget: R510000

Actual spend: R509238

Returned to pool: R762

Item Budget Actual Return to pool Comments
Realm Digital Build 510000 509238 762 All done on budget.
Total 510000 509238 762

 

Outputs and deliverables

Planned: “…the 1.0 site described in supporting documents: the Realm Digital quote and solutions architecture document. The site (a) is faster and lighter than our WordPress prototype, (b) automates a one-click licensing and PDF-delivery process. The IP created will be the designs, code and related documentation that make up the site, and workflow/process documents (hosted on the Paperight wiki, http://paperight.com/wiki).”

This was all completed as planned.

Learnings

Crucially important to keep regular, clear communication with developers, especially about timing. This project ran late because we let that communication slip early on and had to claw back time later.

Realm Digital is superb at creating clear documentation about agree functionality, process and costings from the beginning. This was immensely valuable, and the kind of professionalism that we expected, given that they are an expensive development company. We would noe expect similar levels of professional planning and execution from any supplier

One are of concern has been cross-platform testing. It only became clear almost a year after this project that Realm were not testing their code as thoroughly as they had led us to believe. We’ve since addressed this with them, but aren’t entirely happy with their level of testing, especially in IE8. This requires ongoing effort to address, and we will agree with Realm in future dev phases, on a case by case basis, how testing is conducted.

Exit/Sustainability/Viability

This was a once-off project. Under a separate project, we’re moving this and subsequent code to Github under an open licence, which will give us wider options for future improvements and bug fixing.

Conclusion

Great project, despite some timing and testing issues.

Next steps

We have conducted further development projects with Realm Digital, and will continue to build on an excellent working relationship.

 

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