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Summary

Hello, I’m Will from Meridian Loyalty. We engaged with Sketch to build and replace a third-party business and program rules engine we had acquired in a recent transaction and which the target had been using for several years. The acquisition itself was a major corporate initiative and the migration of this micro-service from a third-party to an in-house, managed solution was a critical success factor which needed to be complete in a very compressed timeframe. The following is our Sketch experience…

“I remember feeling excited to be part of this new effort and to surround myself with a group of experienced professionals that were equally as excited to build something brand new with us.”

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The “Before”

At Meridian Loyalty, we pride ourselves on our devotion to our customers. More than their business, we want to earn their respect. Unfortunately, our third-party point bank tracking system wasn’t meeting our clients’ needs or expectations, nor was it meeting ours. It was difficult and expensive to change. We finally reached the conclusion that we needed to own our technology. We needed to build a new solution to replace the existing one. Here, our original objective was born: to leverage modern technology to develop a resilient solution quickly, and position the end product for future expansion and growth.

The immediate roadblock, however, was the need to migrate off of an existing solution that was inefficient and error-prone to one that better met client needs, operated with fewer defects, and enabled faster delivery of new capabilities.

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The Plan

We were introduced to Sketch through our CFO, now CEO. Sketch’s development experience in the payment card industry perfectly aligned with our vision of this product. Therefore, setting up an initial meeting was a no-brainer. During that initial conversation, Sketch brought us all to the same base-level agile understanding via a 2-day Agile clinic which allowed us to quickly set mutual expectations for this undertaking. I remember feeling excited to be part of this new effort and to surround myself with a group of experienced professionals that were equally as excited to build something brand new with us. I felt welcome and part of the team from day one.

The idea for this new product had been there from the very beginning. However, what it would look like, how it would operate, and what technology it would be built on emerged over time as both our team and Sketch’s team became more familiar with the overall business objectives.

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The Execution

Our plan was ever-evolving. Most of our combined team had no previous knowledge of the underlying business concepts and practices. Consequently, leveraging Agile practices, our developers worked together with Sketch as an integrated team to gain the needed insight. The plan unfolded accordingly. Our in-house developers and Sketch’s consultants sat together, sharing in the Agile ceremonies and practices and contributing to each other’s growing understanding of the solution.

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The Challenges

The greatest challenge that persisted throughout this engagement was the small window of time we had available to completely build and replace our existing solution. By the time we started with Sketch, we had less than 10 weeks to hit our very first “Go Live” milestone.

By fully embracing Sketch’s guidance to continuously refine and adjust our plan during this initial phase, we were able to simplify some very complex business logic to achieve this goal. This product also requires the processing of many sophisticated/changing business rules. Sketch managed to quickly build a custom rules engine that satisfied this need and keep us on schedule.

Another critical component that allowed us to meet this aggressive timeline was the co-location of our blended team. As the only non-local team member I was also the Product Owner. Normally this would have been a crippling obstacle but we were able to overcome this due to an accommodating team member (me) who spent every other week on site with the rest of the team.

The “After”

The end result was a very stable system that allowed for an almost seamless transition from the existing third-party vendor system with little to no customer impact. Not only did the core system function well, but the customer support team was delighted to have new tools that were much more intuitive and effective than the previous system.

The product was a huge win for us, as it allowed us to migrate from a vendor to an in-house solution thereby eliminating a significant cost while being much more responsive to our clients’ needs and future goals. It eliminated many areas of frustration and operational headaches for both our customers and us. It has also, as expected, allowed us to deliver new capabilities more quickly and seamlessly. Our new micro-services architecture allows us to continue to evolve as our clients’ needs adjust, our client list grows, and technologies change.

Working with Sketch was a great experience. They were continuously enthusiastic about the project and personally invested in building a better product with us. They worked diligently to design solutions and adapt as new needs were identified. Even though Sketch was focused on delivering and meeting expectations, they were also friendly, inclusive, and made the effort fun and exciting!

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