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Case Studies, Software Development

Filling the Gap

It’s a common problem. What do you do when your organisation can see the potential for improvements to the software used by its staff, but is so busy maintaining and supporting the existing tools that you can’t see how those improvements can be achieved?

This was exactly the situation that faced Tom Seiler, Senior Mining Engineer with PYBAR, one of Australia’s premier mining services company. Having been in business providing services around underground hardrock mine development, production and much more for over 25 years, PYBAR has amassed a suite of software tools to serve their internal clients. The challenge, though, was that while these systems worked well, they often lacked integration with each other, leading to the potential for important information to be misaligned between systems.

Tom needed to win management support for the task of properly integrating the different pieces into a coherent platform but realised that there was not enough capacity within his existing team to undertake this. He needed competent and reliable software developers who could work on the Proof of Concept integration piece, while allowing his local team to get on with their day to day work. And, he needed these remote developers to be responsive to the changing needs of the end users.

So, why did Tom choose to work with Mitrais on this important project? As he said, “We went offshore because our on-shore developer couldn’t expand to keep up with increased development pace. Mitrais allowed us to upsize our development (and downsize if need be) very easily and quickly.  The web development has been very successful”.

He goes on to say, “Mitrais has allowed us a high degree of customisation and importantly integration (with other off-the shelf systems that we use).  Mitrais has allowed us to achieve good wins in this space by keeping the design in the hands of people who are in effect end users”.

Tom also decided to have the development and implementation teams closely aligned in the hope of maximising the efficiency of the project. “We keep the development close to the implementation (on our side this team is the same people) which results in fast turnaround of good ideas into the product as well as functionality that makes sense in the real world”.

That is not to say that there was no learning curve in the engagement. As is typical when partnering with a new development provider, predicting the composition of the team can be a challenge all of its own. “We have 4 web developers now and 1 dedicated tester. The Tester is excellent, and we should have had him from the start!” he says. “We should have had more senior guys I think, and the app framework was dated and needed upgrading”.

In hindsight, both Tom and Mitrais learned a lot from these projects, and these lessons will no doubt lead to even more success in the future. But what about the initial goals of the project?Tom seems happy with the outcome. “Mitrais allowed us to get a cost effective v1 out the door and implemented … which meant we proved up the concept and gathered internal support to keep investing in it. I can’t fault Mitrais for organising their workforce and attending to our needs. The employees all seem to be happy in their work and very willing to please”.

Now that plans are well underway within PYBAR to extend the software with even more functionality, we at Mitrais look forward to partnering with Tom and the PYBAR team well into the future.

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