Upskilling the development team to provide reusable and scalable applications - Allstate Case Study

Grape Up enabled one of the most influential US insurance enterprises to upskill its development team while rebuilding their apps and help them implement Design Thinking and cloud-native application architecture into the company's software delivery process.

Company

Allstate
USA

Industry

Insurance

About Allstate

Founded in 1931, Allstate is one of the largest American enterprises, ranked in the Fortune 500 list, and one of the leaders of the insurance industry.

The Challenge

Allstate, as a leading American insurance provider, constantly develops innovative products to cover new market needs. To be ahead of the competition and quickly respond to disruptive trends, the enterprise has to empower its employees to improve their skills, adopt the latest technologies and implement modern approaches. What is the Allstate way to empower its employees to grow? The insurance company collaborates with teams of experts fluent in cutting edge technologies and working in agile methodologies. Projects run together with Grape Up meant to develop high performing applications and simultaneously enable their employees to build and develop cloud-native apps independently in the future.

Grape Up joined the Allstate team to help the long time business partner with overcoming two major challenges. The first one - developing software products built on the extensible architecture that enables customization and configuration to adjust to various regulations on the US market in the industry which requirements are determined by the state policies. The second one - to skill up the Allstate team so they can implement strategic planning in their software development and adapt programming frameworks and tools needed to create such applications.

Before Grape Up started the cooperation with Allstate, leaders of the insurance industry had developed the early versions of their applications designed to allow the company's analysts to verify and estimate property insurance for the most complicated cases - the apps have access to numerous data and information. The applications had worked properly for the provided markets, the problem occurred while the project team was trying to expand the apps and provide them in other US states. As it turned out, the architecture used in designing both applications didn’t allow the team to customize and build new categories. The insurance industry in the USA is diverse; one app to provide services for residents of various states has to include numerous conditions and features, displayed accordingly to the location of a customer.

Along with rebuilding the apps, Allstate understood the necessity of upskilling the development team responsible for the future maintenance of the products. The customer team needed training in a framework - in that case, React, and in implementing Design Thinking into the process of building software to avoid situations when the development of the product is limited because of its unscalable architecture.


The Approach

While the software development experts from Grape Up joined the team responsible for developing the apps, they stumbled upon the common obstacles that can be met in projects that don’t utilize cloud-native application architecture, agile methodologies in software delivery and Design Thinking in prototyping a product. Customer’s developers used to build products that meet a particular need without planning the future possibilities of application improvements.

Brought to Allstate to not only rebuild its products but mainly to upskill its developers, cloud-native experts from Grape Up, experienced in working with established enterprises, used the most effective way to encourage client’s teams to new technologies and approaches. While rebuilding the apps, they showed how long-term planning and flexible architecture enable faster development. With every milestone and numerous training, developers from Allstate have been more willing to adopt those techniques.

In order to help their partners smoothly implement practices that improve software delivery and its capabilities to be reusable, Grape Up utilized pair programming as a manner of sharing knowledge. It's an extremely useful yet effective way of skilling up other developers. With this approach, two people work together on the same task and code - they have one workstation and two monitors displaying the same piece of work. The first one is performing a task, the second one is monitoring and supporting, sharing best practices, and explaining the issues that occur during the working session.

Pair programming accelerated training and allowed Allstate to improve their expertise. While the project came to an end, the customer team was ready to work independently and focus on developing the apps as they have been used countrywide.

The Goal

  • Upskilling the development team, & knowledge transfer covering frameworks, tools, approaches to software delivery.
  • Building expertise in developing scalable products that can be easily modified and customized accordingly to the changing business conditions.
  • Delivery of configurable, reusable and extensible architecture for two applications used for insurance services in each of 50 states.
  • Implementing Design Thinking in the process of creating software to improve its usability, long-term Return on Investments.

The Outcome

Allstate, empowered by Grape Up, achieved all the projects’ goals. Applications were re-factored and built on cloud architecture. The development team met deadlines and delivered products that can be easily customized and improved. What’s important from a business perspective; collaboration resulted in fully configurable products that offer its services to the customers from the entire US market and particular features are displayed based on the local law and insurance policy. After the heavy lifting stage, Allstate continued development independently, which showed that training went well.

Along with rebuilding its software products, Allstate achieved an incredible outcome in software delivery. Their development team implemented Design Thinking to software prototyping and encouraged its members to build their application with an approach that takes into account its future development, reusability, and scalability. Many of Allstate’s employees have mastered their skills in used technologies, frameworks and tools. Time savings gained through implementing Agile, and visible in accelerated delivery, encouraged team leaders from Allstate to use them on a daily basis.

The collaboration between Allstate and Grape Up shows that the most effective way to improve skills and promote a culture that speeds up software delivery comes to support their own team with external experts, leaders in using these technologies and approaches. By tackling real challenges and developing already created products, members of the Allstate team gained experience that will impact the process of building software in the future.


Key Impacts

  • Engineering Enablement
  • Design Thinking in building software products
  • Reusable, configurable architecture in software delivery
  • Application Development