Project summary

We provide outsourced developers to assist in creating medical device simulators. Working both as product lifecycle drivers and collaboratively on requirements, our experts create all bespoke solutions.

Information about Roche

Scope of our service

  • Remote automated and manual testing of the DNA-sequencing machine
  • Simulator and stubs development
  • Documentation analysis
  • Java development
  • Business Analysis

Partnership details

Project length: May 2019 – Ongoing
Project category: Custom Software Development, Manual and Automated Software Testing, Business Analysis
Team size: 15 experts

Partnership results

  • Leveraging online streaming in order to gain access to a DNA sequencing machine and make remote testing possible 24/7.
  • Our team has created new and improved the existing custom stubs that other team’s Quality Assurance experts and software developers can use to prevent costly damage to the medical equipment.
  • We have developed and launched the Software Quality Assurance (SQA) Dashboard that is currently in use by 7 other Roche teams.

Feedback was provided by the Senior Software Engineering Manager of Roche, Oleksandr Grytsyna. Here are the key takeaways from the review:

Introduce your business and what you do there

“I am the senior software engineering manager at Roche. We’re a pharmaceutical company and we build medical devices.

We have two project teams that are working on different projects that are very similar in nature. We do different kinds of automation and are building software simulators for medical devices.”

What challenge were you trying to address with SPD Group?

“We have a combination of developers working here in Santa Clara and in the Bay area. We have a workforce working in this time zone, but by having another workforce working remotely, we are getting multiple benefits: there is someone that can still deliver the software fixes and run it overnight.”

What was the scope of the SPD Group’s involvement?

“With SPD Group, the whole hiring process is transparent. We are able to participate in it and can tell if someone is good or not. We work with their software developers. They receive a task — sometimes it is something smaller, so they are able to deliver it the next day. We create a set of changes called a pull request, and we’ll review and test the code when we receive it back. We then accept and merge it and it becomes part of our codebase once it’s accurate. If there are any issues or changes needed, then we can provide feedback, and their team can provide a base that is necessary and run the process again.

Some of the team we are working with acts as our representatives. They gather the requirements, and by having all of this information in hand and this communication channel, they can drive the development on their side. They are basically product owners defining the requirements for their developers so that they can drive it with full-cycle independency. All the deliverables are custom software. For a medical device, there is the hardware, chemistry, and consumables, and in order to build a simulator, you have to gather all the requirements and understand the behavior of each of the components and how they integrate and work together. Then, we build the software that mimics and pretends that it is actually doing it. This allows us to show it to business people without having them deal with real hardware that is undergoing upgrades or is expensive or impossible to get into the lab without special permission. There are a variety of different cases where they are helpful.”

What is the team composition?

“The last time I counted, I believe there were 15 team members, including different levels of software developers: senior and mid-level software developers, and a requirements engineer. There are 1–2 people more focused on DevOps type of work.”

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

“They need to deliver software that meets a certain quality requirement, and those requirements speak for themselves. We don’t have much regression. Typically, in ongoing software development, when you are building a feature and then another one, the second feature potentially breaks the first one, but we aren’t having those types of issues. That is a really good time and quality metric for software development. The most important metric though is that there are some delays, but they aren’t because of SPD Group, but rather because the requirements changed. I don’t remember if there have been any delays or slips from the timeline that were purely because of SPD Group. Obviously, with the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, there are some additional challenges that we are experiencing, but prior to that, it has been just a positive experience.”

How did SPD Group perform from a project management standpoint?

“We are driving the team and doing the project management from our side. There have been some things that they delivered on their own, and from that perspective, they’ve done well with project management. They are professionals as are we, so it is a perfect combination. We know what other professionals need to get the job done. From our side, we are trying to provide as much detail as possible and give them useful information to be able to start the development. It isn’t an issue or a concern, but because of the time zone difference, we have very little overlap with each other. We need to plan the work accordingly, as we have a small window to communicate. That has been the only challenge working with a team from Europe. I like that we have periodic meetings where we provide feedback on the work and the individuals working for us. We’ve only had one time where something minor needed to be corrected. For tools, we use industry best practices like Jira, Miro, and some other specific project management tools. We have multiple channels for communication, but the most common one is the Google ecosystem where we have Sheets, Docs, Chat and
Hangouts. We also use Slack and email.”

What did you find most impressive about them?

“In the past, I worked with vendors from other countries like India. The challenge with that was there was even more of a time difference. Our morning is their night, and I used to run my stand-ups at 9 a.m. in California, which is midnight in India. After half a year of working that way, I saw that they couldn’t keep up with the pace. With other vendors, there are some things that they do behind your back without telling you like training or engaging new team members, and by the performance of the team members, you can tell there is something happening, but you don’t know exactly what it is or how to explain it because you are just seeing the performance of the employees. These are things that have never happened with SPD. They are honest about what they’re doing and I really appreciate that.”

Are there any areas they could improve?

“As I mentioned, we are part of their hiring process, and if something goes wrong, it isn’t only their responsibility. It is really hard to distinguish what they can do differently because we are sharing the responsibility. We are trying to make a big impact and be more efficient by constantly identifying efficient tools, new libraries, and technologies that can help us move faster, as well as educate people. They are doing a lot of training to keep their people and their skills up to the market expectations of the knowledge of the most recent tools.”

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

“I believe you have to know what they want. If you can talk to people and explain what you need, then they can find the right people to get the job done.”

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