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Project discovery phase for the cost estimation platform

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Our team contributed to the discovery phase for a cloud-based cost estimation platform for large capital projects and programs.
Country:
USA
Industry:
Commercial Building, Heavy Industrial, and Nuclear
Time frame:
September - November 2022
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Project Background

Our client has deep experience in professional cost estimation in the commercial building, heavy industrial, and nuclear sectors. When he approached Clockwise Software, he had an up-and-running platform for cost management and estimation and an idea to pivot and make his product more feature-rich and user-oriented. Another goal was to conduct competitors research and find ways to build a usable, convenient, and flexible solution. Additionally, the improved product needed to be highly secured and better than other similar products on the market.

To ensure this idea had a chance to thrive, to reduce risks, and to identify new opportunities, our client requested a project discovery phase.

The challenges we had to solve
Challenge #1

Our client is a subject matter expert with a clear understanding of project goals. The primary challenge of the discovery phase was to ensure the project would be technically feasible.

Solution

Our development team has cut the client’s requirements into smaller chunks to better understand the idea of a solution and come up with suggestions on how to implement each feature in software.

As the proposed product has to deal with large volumes of data, we suggested developing a custom software product from scratch and using third-party solutions for managing data and working with tables.

With these two ways to bring key functionality to life, we developed a technical approach, a list of key features, and a development plan to clarify further steps and help to solve other challenges.

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Challenge #2

In the client’s market, there are several tools that provide similar functionality and may become potential competitors. The next challenge was to analyze their strengths and weaknesses and develop a list of features that would differentiate this platform and attract investors’ and users’ attention.

Solution

The business analyst studied the target market, analyzed existing cost estimators, performed SWOT analysis, created wireframes, and presented ways to improve our client’s product with features that may help to create unique selling propositions.

During the feature analysis stage, our business analyst identified that most of the similar products lack ready-made estimation templates for different industries, impacting the user experience and requiring manual work. We suggested enhancing automation functionality, adding templates and widgets for custom dashboards, and improving the app’s flexibility and the project approval flow to help users manage and control their operations within the platform.

Challenge #3

Our client prioritized data security tasks and paid maximum attention to ensuring no data leaks or breaches were possible.

Solution

We involved a security consultant to develop in-depth security guides and provide our client with tried and tested recommendations for keeping users’ data fully isolated and safe.

We leveraged OWASP and CIS benchmarks — industry-specific practices for top-level security.

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Challenge #4

One of the client’s goals is to turn the web app into a SaaS product. Multiple individuals and organizations will use this platform; our challenge was to develop an architectural approach that would keep users’ data isolated and provide users with functionality according to their subscription plan.

Solution

Keeping in mind the client’s requirements for multi-tenancy and the possible implementation of a white-label approach, our software architect and AWS expert developed a technical approach and a project architecture scheme.

The software architect investigated the security consultant’s recommendations based on OWASP and specific AWS CIS security benchmarks and created a checklist of necessary and recommended actions to keep the software infrastructure and the client’s product protected.

Challenge #5

Investment is one of the keys to a successful project launch, and our client needed documentation and presentations for his pitch deck.

Solution

Our UI/UX designer analyzed clients’ expectations and requirements, developed UI mock-ups and a UI kit, and implemented the latest design techniques and best practices to create a clickable prototype that fully represents the client’s idea and provides numerous opportunities:

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Present the idea behind ​​the project to potential investors and raise initial funds

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Offer a prototype prototype to early adopters and collect feedback

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Reach out to potential partners to discover opportunities for the product launch and further growth

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Decide on next steps for improving the product and adjusting it to meet current market needs

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Project discovery phase: key deliverables

A three-month discovery phase resulted in 11 key deliverables that will help the client reach his goals:

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Feature breakdown list

Feature breakdown list

a table describing essential and prioritized product features and the time needed to build them

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Development plan

Development plan

a step-by-step plan to implement all features, including a description of necessary services and tools

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Product requirements document and a project mind map

Product requirements document and a project mind map

detailed descriptions of how the product should work and look

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SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis

a document demonstrating the product’s competitive position in the target market

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Risk assessment and mitigation plan

Risk assessment and mitigation plan

a table of risks this project may face and ways to minimize them

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Product architecture

Product architecture

a description of the app’s structure, including patterns and techniques needed to build it

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Cyber­security recommen­dations

Cyber­security recommen­dations

recommendations for security measures to ensure the application and source code are secured and protected from threats and unauthorized access

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Design guidelines

Design guidelines

a set of design principles for the product

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Wireframes

Wireframes

blueprints of the app’s screens

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Prototype

Prototype

an interactive model of the app

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Development time and cost estimate

Development time and cost estimate

a table summarizing the approximate budget the client needs for each stage of the product’s growth

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What our client says

Banning Stack
Founder
Tennessee, USA

From the very beginning, the team at Clockwise demonstrated professionalism and creativity. The team worked very well together and they produced excellent materials throughout the discovery phase.

Team

Five specialists were involved in this project on a part-time basis:

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Project Manager

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Business analyst

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Software architect

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Security consultant

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UI/UX designer

Project outcome and future plans

We provided the client with the aforementioned deliverables and recommendations on optimizing development, creating a winning architecture,  implementing security best practices, and successfully launching the product.

Now, the client is reaching out to potential investors and partners and is planning to move forward with his idea by rolling out the SaaS platform.

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