Case Study: Postage meter & mailroom equipment

The Client

The client is a leading of the world in mailroom solutions. They offer the most advanced solutions for mailing systems, folders, inserters and addressing, as well as traceability for letters and parcels. Beside, they also offer a broad range of services, including consulting, maintenance, financing solutions and online services.

Business Needs

To keep the leading position in this highly competitive market, the client set a strategy to strengthen the research and development activities without increasing the cost, or do more with the same budget. An outsourcing service from a software company which can provide a large pool of highly skilled resources with a low labor cost is the right answer to this strategy. A high quality of service is also required in order to provide products of advanced technologies in this domain. Finally, the outsource company must provide a secured environment to protect all business and technology secrets and intellectual properties of the client.
After two years of seeking of many software companies worldwide, FPT Software was finally chosen as a company which can provide such highly required services.

Development history

The partnership was started with a team of 6 people in August 2007. The team attended a training course at the client location for 2 months and then started the first pilot project in Vietnam: to customize the software for a range of mailing systems which is launched in the Australian market in the third quarter of 2008.
In December 2008, the second team was formed to take a training course at the customer site and increased the total number of people to 15 people to enlarge the development for the mailing systems. By the end of January 2008, the total number reached nearly 30 people with several projects running at the same time to customize mailing systems for several countries. The center was officially opened on February 1, 2008 with the name ORDC – Outsource Research and Development Center. Currently the ORDC has 90 people involving in various sections of the client such as software development system for embedded systems, server application development and qualification, PC application maintenance and researching activities. The ORDC also organized nearly 20 onsite trips, sending software engineers to the client sites in many countries: US, Canada, France, Russia, Switzerland, etc.

Services & technologies

The ORDC is providing the following services to the client:
  • Rollout and support activities for mailing systems. A team of 25 people is dedicated to customize the embedded software of the mailing systems to any countries where the client intend to extend the business to. The existing systems are also maintained by the team to do bug fixing and enhancement. Sometimes, people are sent to the client site do provide the maintenance at the field. The key technologies of this domain are embedded systems, C/C++ programming language for legacy systems and Windows CE for the next generations.
  • Server application qualification: a key server application set serving customers of the client worldwide is currently qualified by the ORDC; that means we provide the user acceptance test for all releases of this application set. This activity was maintained by the client site in the US and has been transferred to our site since April 2008. Many kinds of testing are implemented: functional testing, integration testing, load testing, performance testing, security testing, etc.
  • Maintenance for the printing system. It is a high performance printing solution to generate many output formats, such as PDF, PostScript, AFP, HTML, etc. from various document sources, such as databases, Word documents, etc. The key technologies are C/C++, Microsoft .Net, document formats, etc.
  • Maintenance for the document systems. It is a system to insert documents into envelop. Key technologies are embedded systems, C/C++ programming languages, Windows CE
  • Tools development and innovation. Various tools are being developed for the ORDC and for client’s use worldwide. Innovation is also invested to apply new ideas and technologies to many products and systems of the client.

Organization

The client assigns one program manager to work locally at the ORDC. The program manager is managing the operation of the ORDC and bridging the communication between the local team and many client sites. Besides the program manager, the client often sends a project manager for an important domain to the ORDC. For Instance, the qualification activity is currently managed by a project manager who used to manage the qualification team in the US.
For all new activities with the client, onsite training courses are organized at the client sites. Nearly 30 people have been trained in 5 training courses abroad. After training, the client assigns the work to the team as short time projects, usually 2 to 3 months. During project execution, the project team coordinates directly with the client’s staffs from many sites. A small team may be sent to the client site at the end of the project to deploy the work products.
The main process used in these projects is based on the CMMi-level 5 software development process of FPT Software, with some customization to fulfill the working standards of the client. However, some maintenance projects apply the Agile software development process.

The five pillars

All operation activities of the ORDC are standardized as particular processes which are categorized into 5 categories, or 5 pillars:
  •   Logistics: import/export process, onsite procedures, purchasing process, etc.
  •   Information system and security
  •   Communication: communication standards internally and with the client
  •   Human resource and training: recruitment process, training process and surveys, etc.
  •   Finance: invoice process, work order process, etc.

Technologies Used

C/C++, embedded systems, server applications, Windows and Linux platforms, software testing, RUP-based and Agile-based software development processes, etc.