PREPAID VISA SYSTEM
This national prepaid-card company, whose goal is to be the leading transaction management and prepaid service provider in the industry, has established valuable relationships with retail giants such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, and ExxonMobil, and the majority of the nation’s leading wireless providers including Cingular, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and more. By leveraging these existing relationships they planned to enter the lucrative space of prepaid gift and debit cards.
The Business Problem
A national prepaid services provider had been approached on several occasions to implement prepaid Visa solutions to augment its vast array of prepaid products. This company was ideally situated for implementing a prepaid Visa solution as it already owned the physical retail space where cards of this type would be sold.
Qualifying for a credit card can be difficult for some while others prefer not to accumulate the debt associated with traditional credit cards. Yet having a credit card is more convenient than paying by check and much safer than carrying cash. This company’s Prepaid Credit Cards give their customers the best of all worlds, enabling faster, easier, and more secure purchases, controlled spending, and 24/7 customer service.
Preferring to build systems rather than to buy and integrate systems, they turned to Bright Byte to help with their rapid introduction plan. With an ever-increasing backlog of other required systems, they knew that they needed to turn to one of their premier development partners to have a chance of a timely entry to this very lucrative market.
The plan was to use Bright Byte to develop the early versions of the product until they could get their own development department upgraded to support the introduction of this capability. They chose Bright Byte as they had a previous track record for delivery.
Bright Byte’s approach, because of the time-sensitive nature of the project and the cost-conscious personality of the company’s CEO, was to use one of its offshore development partners. Bright Byte has successfully completed several offshore projects in India and Romania using its Pivotal Provider concept.
As the pivotal provider, Bright Byte occupies a pivotal role in liaising with both the offshore development organization and the client. The client is totally isolated from the offshore unit and the Offshore company is totally isolated from the client.
Bright Byte employs full-time onshore resources that are responsible for all aspects of the software development life-cycle, choosing only to send the actual development offshore.
The development plan devised split the project into several components – all of which needed to be operational before the prepaid product could be launched.
The defined components were:
Component 1 – Customer facing Card Holder website
This website would be used to allow cardholders to access their accounts and conduct basic financial actions (View Transactions, Transfers, Activations, Lost Card, etc.)
Component 2 – Customer service application to be developed and deployed to manage the system administration of the customer-facing website.
Component 3 – Transaction Engine
This transaction engine provided the necessary interfaces to the 3rd party Visa network processing company and maintain a card holder’s activity and balance data.
Component 4 – Pin Generation
This component would generate the account numbers for the prepaid Visa card inventory.
Bright Byte’s general project approach was to allocate a team of 5 offshore development resources who would provide varying degrees of support for the development of the Prepaid Visa Card system. A two-man onshore team would provide the required local support for other phases related to the development cycle. For Components 1 and 2, after requirements were gathered and a design document was produced, were sent to the offshore unit for development. After development, the code modules were delivered to Bright Byte for QA and packages for delivery to the client.
Another full-time resource, operating from the client’s location, was attached to the project for the development of Components 3 & 4. These server-side components needed to be developed within the client’s proprietary transaction engine architecture which would have been too cost-prohibitive to be setup for offshore development.
This system was engineered to operate within Bright Byte’s Application Portal Platform (InfoX) which supports a robust, scalable architecture enabling the secure and configurable control of browser-based applications and what users can do once they gain access to these applications. Security data (Rights Management Data) is centrally controlled within the InfoX database and provides flexible control over a user’s access to applications built to operate within this environment. Bright Byte’s InfoX application has been built using the most open and accepted standards, languages, protocols, and open source technologies, including Java, Servlets, JSPs, Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), Log4J, Struts, and XML.
Bright Byte successfully delivered version 1.0 of each component within a 4-month timeframe. These components have now been fully integrated into the suite of applications supported by the client’s internal development staff and now operate in a production environment.
Initially, we found that development is done by the offshore unit often made their delivery dates but their code would very often fail our QA checks. Toward the end of the project, through constant process improvement, their own QA process improved. Having a full time onshore Bright Byte developer isolated any of these quality issues from the client.
The integration of these developed components into the client’s local operation was not as smooth as expected and, in hindsight, we should have been more insistent on the continuation of the onshore team to provide a longer transition period. Even though the project was considered a success, the increased onshore activity that was needed to mitigate the offshore development risk, meant that the overall project profit was, approximately, 5% lower than expected.