One of the most challenging tasks that Focus21 developers and other specialists face is overhauling software that was initially developed by other teams. Implementing such projects often requires extra time and involvement of the most experienced staff members.
It's not uncommon to encounter outdated code, many parts of which need to undergo refactoring. Often, previous solutions have to be discarded in favor of more efficient ones. It was precisely with such a complex task that Superior Memorials approached Focus21.
Superior Memorials has been involved in the production of monuments and associated services since 1924. Today, it is managed by the fourth generation of heirs who continue to uphold the highest standards almost a century since the company's inception. This is a remarkable achievement.
Superior Memorials' primary objective is to preserve memories through monuments. To do this, a team of artistic designers crafts a custom design for each client, and master craftsmen with years of experience ensure the utmost quality of the product regardless of its complexity.
Superior Memorials boasts the largest showroom throughout Ontario. They offer a full range of services from design to cutting, carving, polishing, sandblasting, delivery, and installation. Furthermore, the company also restores old monuments right at their installation site, a service that competitors rarely offer.
Superior Memorials employs the latest digital technologies for monument design and customer service. The company also owns the Gorde platform for convenient interaction with clients, which is used by other monument manufacturers. Focus21 is responsible for the further development of this software.
During the discovery phase, the primary task for Focus21 specialists was to understand Superior Memorials' operations, analyze its business objectives, and plan the work on the platform. The software tailored for monument makers, which served as an additional revenue stream for the company, hadn't been updated for a while and occasionally had glitches.
The developers encountered Gorde's old codebase, a complete lack of technical documentation (which is mandatory in modern development), and a series of dependency issues. Moreover, Superior Memorials had no strategy for the software's future development and promotion.
Before advancing the product's development, it was imperative to get the existing code operational. Subsequently, refactoring was necessary for those parts of the software that would still be relevant in future operations. Additionally, some services on which the platform operated were locked, making it impossible to retrieve crucial data.
Next, it was essential to plan the platform's evolution to meet contemporary North American business standards and devise a marketing strategy for its promotion. These challenges were also taken on by Focus21 in collaboration with Superior Memorials.
The first step in working on any software is usually detailed planning, setting up checkpoints, and establishing specific goals with exact deadlines. The work on the Gorde platform for Superior Memorials, which is still ongoing, was no exception.
The initial phase of this project involved updating and refactoring those portions of the code that would be needed in the future, as well as removing any that were entirely redundant. Properly implementing this task, without disrupting crucial processes, required several weeks of research.
Given the client had no documentation explaining the key principles of the software operation and clear plans regarding its business aspects, the Focus21 team conducted multiple joint sessions with Superior Memorials to address any questions and gather information about how everything should function.
After gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the client's business, the developers began refining the base code of the software while finalizing the update of some of its segments. Furthermore, as part of the marketing effort, it was decided to create a single-page landing website to promote Gorde.
After a few months of intense work, Superior Memorials received an optimized platform with essential innovations. The Ruby on Rails framework, which powers Gorde, for instance, was updated from version 4 to version 7.0.4. Many dependencies of the frontend were also rewritten.
The resulting platform had expanded functionalities, and main flows were adapted to standardize multi-user access. This enhancement now makes it easier to sell licenses for the product to other companies engaged in monuments.
As Superior Memorials uses its business platform, which enables seamless client interaction management, the company immediately appreciated the resolution of key issues. During report generation, errors that hindered the full use of the software were now absent.
In addition, the Focus21 team transitioned the platform's operation from Heroku services to AWS infrastructure to minimize the cost of regular software maintenance. Visually, the platform also became extremely clear and user-friendly, even for those not well-acquainted with modern technologies.
Work on the Gorde platform continues as the client keeps coming up with new ideas beneficial for their operations and for other companies using the software. With an increasing number of these companies, further improvements to the platform are certainly justified.
There's nothing more challenging than deciphering old, unfamiliar code that hasn't been worked on in a long time. Technologies evolve rapidly, so without regular updates, introducing new features on an outdated foundation is often simply impossible. Such was the situation with the Gorde platform.
Moreover, a good practice during software development is to provide documentation about its key features. The absence of such documentation significantly delays the process of a new team beginning work on the code. In the case of the project for Superior Memorials, that new team was the specialists from Focus21.
However, it's essential to understand that every problem inevitably has a solution. Yes, sometimes it requires bringing in more experienced professionals who might need more time in the end, but it's achievable. Furthermore, for Focus21, there are no project complexity boundaries; the team is ready to undertake any challenge at any moment.