ABS Global Selects QAT Global for Custom Software Development
Designing the Software at the Core of the Business
Headquartered in DeForest, Wisconsin, ABS Global is the world-leading provider of bovine genetics, reproduction services, technologies and udder care products. Marketing in more than 70 countries around the globe, ABS has been at the forefront of animal genetics and technology since its founding in 1941.
ABS Technical Services is an area of ABS Global, which is Genus/PLC Group´s division focused on bovine genetics. The main purpose of this area is to support milk producer farmers, allowing them to maximize their economic results by achieving optimal milk production. Technical Services also acts as a customer channel to maximize sales of ABS products to farmers, increasing ABS market share.
As a customer relationship strategy, ABS has developed and made available a set of software tools that assist and compels to execute optimal actions related to cow management in order to maximize milk production. The Technical Services and Tools area is responsible for the development, maintenance and support of such tools. The main element of the software portfolio is ABS Monitor, a product available to promote loyalty of the producer through the establishment of an information capture channel, support and technical advice via diagnosis and routines offered by the tool.
ABS Monitor has two modules: Offline and Online.
The offline module is mainly for data entry where the producer maintains herd data and enters the farm routines and a list of alerts that drive the daily work. They need to be offline because on many farms there is no internet service available. Periodically, the producer uses the online module to upload the changes, and the system runs and provides analysis, which can be printed.
The online module has analysis, statistics, and calculators and provides a communication feature that allows the ABS technician in charge of the account the ability to interact with the person responsible for the farm.
The tool also has a benchmarking module, where producer data is compared with the average of a universe of users, grouped into global, region, state, or group (cooperative). This allows the user to understand how he is situated in comparison to their peers, and the results are often presented in events and meetings. There is a KPI report with global benchmarking: a comparative report completed by the technician, but this is outside ABS monitor.
One fundamental aspect of ABS Monitor is the Operational SIMPLICITY, not overly concerned about the farm complex routines and keeping its focus on reproduction, with an interface metaphor based on colors and indicators that “draw user attention” for the steps to take. Simplicity is important because the rural user typically is technology-averse, and does not deal well with complex routines.
QAT Global’s Approach
The ABS Monitor ecosystem was being maintained by a third-party software vendor and ABS was looking for alternatives to streamline development to achieve enhanced quality and new features in the short term.
QAT Global was tasked with assessing the current solution and propose a work plan to take ownership and maintain the system going forward. Scalability and flexibility were main concerns, along with the fact that the transition had to be done “on-the-fly”, with no interruption of service to users. After the assessment was performed, ABS accepted QAT’s work plan and transition started.
The team had to absorb knowledge about the current system in a small amount of time to be able to maintain existing functionality while new features were being developed. QAT Global introduced development frameworks and methodologies not present before, which created an additional need to manage components in the old and new architecture.
The adoption of ABS Monitor started to increase worldwide, creating more pressure to integrate with other third-party systems in the market. To fulfill this need, an API for integration was requested and QAT Global had to gain knowledge of these other tools to be able to design and code the new API. This effort required involvement with other remote teams in the UK and Israel.
What we did as a part of the solution
QAT Global implemented the solution using Agile/Scrum. The development team consisted of both American and Brazilian resources. Daily Scrum meetings were conducted where project status was reviewed. Various demo’s where held during each sprint to ensure the customer was getting exactly what they wanted as well, adjustments could be made based on these reviews. The end result was a solution which:
- Leverages open-source technologies
- Highly cost-effective as a result of QAT Global resources and solutions.
- Uses Commodity Resourcing, Knowledge and Technology
- Web – Rich Internet Application (RIA)
- The solution is hosted on a cloud provider
- Completely internationalized
Technologies/tools we used:
- Apache 2.4.18
- Linux/Ubuntu hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- PHP 5.6.30
- MySql 5.7.11
- Java Swing
- jQuery/jQuery UI
- Subversion 1.9.3
- Eclipse Neon 2
- Microsoft PowerBI hosted in Microsoft Azure
- Version One
Working with QAT in the development of ABS Monitor enabled us to transform a reproductive monitoring program for dairy farms into a global support tool for the Technical Services Department, which has given us greater speed and ability to deliver functionalities and adjustments to customer needs no matter what part of the world they are in.
We worked with a focused and agile team with great willingness to understand the very complex aspects of the reproductive management in dairy farms.
– Helio Rezende, Technical Services Manager, ABS
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