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Getting Started

The owner of a small business contacted Software Genesis. His company provides software and support services to title companies who handle the financial calculations and legal documentation required for real estate transactions. Their existing DOS-based product already handled order entry, all calculations for the HUD-1 form, title insurance policy information, and the printing of all associated documents. In addition, the product had an installed customer base. However, the owner knew that he needed to provide a Windows-based solution in order to keep his company moving forward.

After the parties signed a mutual non-disclosure agreement, Software Genesis evaluated the existing product and reviewed competitive offerings from several other vendors. Our market analysis determined that the title industry needed another, better option for handling the complex legal and financial demands of real estate closings. We gained a clear understanding, not only of the strengths and limitations of the current product, but also of our customerís ideas for new features to be included in the proposed product.
From these initial steps, Software Genesis prepared an estimate of project schedule and costs. The customer, who had been considering a number of software development firms, selected Software Genesis as the company with whom he would partner to create an outstanding product for the title industry.

Software Genesis completed an initial product design, accepting as payment a specified number of units in our new partnerís company. The design incorporated not only the established product requirements, but also extensive input from our partner on many decisions. As part of the design process, Software Genesis created a formal User Interface Specification, along with a simple prototype that demonstrated many of the features and implementation decisions for the new product.

Forging a Partnership

The design process complete, we turned our attention to detailing our partnership agreement. The following paragraphs highlight some of the primary provisions of that agreement.

Software Genesis would insure that the new product implemented all features and capabilities of the DOS product. Further, in order to help insure consistency with the existing product, we would reuse business rules where feasible. In response to the user preferences of the existing customer base, we also agreed to implement keyboard navigation and command entry capabilities throughout the Windows product. Finally, because the DOS product had an installed customer base, Software Genesis would insure that the new product would provide both a means of migrating all existing customer data and a similar workflow within the new product.

For his part, our partner would handle all sales and installation for the new product. In addition, both because of his knowledge of the existing software and out of a need to prepare the product for release as quickly as possible, we agreed that he would be available a specified number of hours to assist in product testing during the development cycle. Finally, we established a payment schedule in which our partner would be responsible for securing funding that covered the development costs at a fixed amount.

Creating a Product

Very early in the development phase, our partner became aware of the benefits of some additional functionality not available in the DOS product and not originally included in the new product design. Specifically, he wanted to provide within the application a means of handling e-mail, task management, contact management, and appointment scheduling on an enterprise level. At his request, Software Genesis revised the product design, the development schedule, and the funding agreement to include these features. We had already provided our partner with a prototype that he could use to demonstrate the product user interface to potential customers. However, in less than three months we also supplied him a functioning version of the core enterprise features for him to use in obtaining funding and in encouraging existing customers to migrate.

As product development progressed, Software Genesis continued to verify software against the functionality of the existing DOS product to insure that the new product met or exceeded all requirements. In addition, we implemented a tracking system to maintain an exhaustive record of all issues related to product development. Defects, regressions, enhancement requests, and features to implement for future versions were all recorded and updated within this system.

The tracking system also afforded us a clear means of measuring the progress of product development against well-defined software metrics. Product readiness for release would be determined by these objective measures, which were approved by our partner.
As an additional means of insuring product quality, we worked with our partner to implement a Beta program in which select customers were given the opportunity to evaluate the software against their existing DOS product implementation. Throughout that Beta period, Software Genesis continued to correct defects and supply Beta customers with updated versions as needed.

Insuring Success

On August 1, 2002, Version 1 of a new product for the title industry was officially released. Our partner is actively selling and installing this product as of this writing.

Many software development companies would consider a project complete at this point. At Software Genesis, weíre just getting started. We are now in a formal maintenance agreement period for version 1, in which we will correct any severe product defects during a specified period of time.

In addition, we continue to maintain a prioritized record of outstanding issues, including a designation of which features would be likely candidates for inclusion in a version 2 release. Moreover, an add-on module required by a limited number of product customers has already been implemented and is currently in testing by our partner. We are in regular contact with him as he continues to move forward. What was a file-based DOS application is now a robust client-server Windows application that is fully scalable to any enterprise. We are excited about the potential impact of this outstanding product on the title industry.


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