Two key components underlie today’s most successful organisations – innovative business models and agility. Vitality Group has both, but the agile organisation has taken this one step further. It has taken innovation and agility and applied this to contracting.
Vitality Group entered into an agile contract with Synthesis Software Technologies and is witnessing the benefits of increased efficiency, effectiveness and speed, ensuring it fast-tracks fulfilling customer needs.
Synthesis, an innovative software development and consulting company, has had a successful long-term partnership with Vitality Group where Synthesis manages the Group’s services.
Managed services are the behind-the-scenes maintenance and updates of technology infrastructure that provide customers with seamless secure experiences. If an organisation wants to constantly adapt and release new innovations, its infrastructure needs to be managed to allow for this.
Vitality Group had numerous projects it wanted to execute. The Group realised that to adjust to changing customer needs, provide innovation and constantly improve customer experience, it would require the latest technologies. To do this, it would need numerous skills.
However, Vitality Group also did not want to contract set resources from Synthesis for every type of innovation it planned to implement. This list of skills would have been exhaustive and hiring only certain resources would have been constrictive. It wanted to be agile and able to implement the latest technologies and adapt to customers’ needs. It required a different model.
Vitality Group and Synthesis decided to approach contracting differently. The answer to the challenge was simple yet effective. The teams agreed on an agile contract so as Vitality Group’s needs changed, it could tap into whatever technology was needed.
Vitality Group still had one set managed services budget with Synthesis.
Synthesis provided three fixed resources who had the key skill sets. It used the rest of the budget on demand. Other specialists were pulled in and out of the projects as and only when their skills were needed. This sped up sign-off time.
Before the organisation would have needed approval to bring on a different resource but now the Group just needed to tap into its agreed-on budget.
This new engagement gave Vitality Group the ability to access a wide variety of skills based on the needs of the project. The resources were available whenever they were needed, no delays, no upskilling, no recruitment.
The team members brought on all had AWS expertise as well as expertise in:
- Disaster Recovery (DR)
- HashiCorp Terraform
- HashiCorp Vault
- L1 Support
- Java Development
- MSP Management
- Customer Success Management
Synthesis Customer Success Manager, Deon Schwabsky: “We may have had one person on a team working on a specific project but if that person ran into a problem or required assistance outside their field, instead of him or her trying to solve the problem and taking longer, we called in another Synthesis specialist in that area who could help solve the problem immediately.”
“The original resource could have solved the problem, but not at the pace of the specialist. If you have a single contract, you do not get that kind of immediate expertise. Vitality Group now quickly tagged in and out experts as needed. This wider skills coverage for the same budget led to cost efficiency, innovation and speed.”
An example of this agile contracting is where Vitality Group needed to move off its enterprise messaging system, which was an older platform that could not manage the number of messages Vitality Group received.
The Group wanted assistance moving onto a new platform called Kafka, an event streaming platform. The Group receives myriads of messages per second through smart devices when its customers exercise globally.
Kafka would be a cheaper, scalable and more reliable platform. Synthesis Kafka experts were tagged in and the team helped replace this platform within budgets and timelines.
Kafka allowed Vitality Group to improve reliability due to Kafka’s built-in error handling, scalability and retry functionality. It also has smart message deduplication functionality which allows Vitality Group to ingest more customer data in a shorter period of time and eliminate message lag.
“Kafka is more scalable than the previous system and it also unlocks potential for the future,” says Schwabsky, “We are now working on an innovation POC that helps to eliminate fraud. Normally a team of nine would spend about two to three weeks every month looking at fraudulent activities and they would use pivot tables and Excel to export the data.”
“We will create a real-time dashboard with reporting so the Vitality Group team can action their findings in real-time and they don’t have to wait. Being able to pull in Kafka experts so quickly allowed us to set up the dashboards that allow for this instead of waiting for additional budget to pull in more resources.”
Vitality Group Senior Development Manager, Nic Mouyis adds to this: “As Kafka was a new technology being introduced into my team, my existing Java developers had very little practical exposure to the product.”
“Through our arrangement with Synthesis, we were able to very quickly onboard very effective Kafka engineers who were able to assist us with defining the solution, rolling it out, as well as optimising the throughput of the solution while still being able to deliver the project on time.
The agile contracting resulted in greater efficiency and effectiveness because the Group didn’t need to find, contract and wait for resources to be available to begin a project or its next phase and could access resources equipped in every technology.
Vitality Group can forecast, plan and adjust its strategy and move resources as and when needed. This resulted in operational improvements through Amazon Web Services (AWS), Confluent and HashiCorp resources and increased security due to Kafka specialists working on upgrades.
The contract also created improved reliability, enhanced performance efficiency due to a migration to Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) and cost enhancements as the Group received more value for the same spend.
Mouyis explains: “Through the agile arrangements, we were allowed to work within a defined budget and yet still had the flexibility to call on various resources throughout the project while still remaining within budget.”
“The quick onboarding of resources without having to go through a significant learning curve is a major advantage,” explains Vitality Group Service Transition Manager, Lester Hilton.
If Vitality Group decides a sudden strategy change is needed, or if COVID presents more unforeseen circumstances, or its customers have a new need, the Group can easily adjust because it had the foresight to use agile contracting.
By implementing Kafka, the time it takes for points to reflect after a customer exercises will go from a few hours to roughly 15 minutes. Agile contracting will noticeably improve Vitality Group’s speed of delivery, and this is just the beginning of what agile contracting will enable.