At Ingsoftware, we love new challenges and projects that enable us to make a change. Our collaboration with Empa and Sympheny was such a chance. Read on to find out more about the project and our involvement in it.
Who are Empa and Sympheny?
With a vision to develop materials and technologies for a sustainable future, Switzerland’s Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) is on a worthwhile mission. They want to solve many of the challenges our world faces today in five key areas: energy, natural resources, health, our built environment, and novel materials.
To facilitate developing innovative solutions and bringing them to the market, Empa has launched two business incubators to support startup initiatives that align with their goals and can benefit from the Empa’s resources. One such startup is Sympheny.
They envisioned a system to enable optimized local energy planning for neighborhoods, villages, campuses, urban districts, new building sites, as well as existing sites. To enable their customers to easily benefit from their solution, in January 2020 Sympheny partnered with us.
A perfect fit for unique challenges
Before partnering with Ingsoftware, Sympheny had already developed an internal proof-of-concept tool that encapsulated their years of hard research. However, this was not only a command-line tool (so no pretty UI) but was also a desktop app (so users had to download and install it locally on their machines).
To change that state of things and move forward with bringing their solution to the market, they needed a committed and dependable software development agency. First, they did their due diligence and found us to be the perfect fit as a reliable team that can deliver cost-effective solutions in a timely manner.
We were tasked with developing a SaaS solution for their game-changing product, and within two weeks after the first contact, we had already finished with the discovery phase during which our business analyst was able to gather all the information, analyze the project, and put together a solid plan for the product’s MVP aligned with the client’s vision.
The challenge of developing the MVP was twofold. On one hand, we needed to work together with the Sympheny team to find a way to upgrade their tool into something that can be easily integrated into a modern cloud-based system architecture. And then we needed to build a cloud-based SaaS product around it.
Successfully working together
The development phase was split into 6 two-week sprints, during which our team faced plenty of challenges. We had a pretty tight schedule to finish with the MVP, and at the same time had to plan for the integration with Sympheny’s existing software components.
One of the greatest obstacles, however, was the fact that the scope of the MVP couldn’t include frontend UI/UX design, due to time and budget constraints. However, our team worked tirelessly and managed to come up with a design that would satisfy both our partners and future end-users.
The final piece of the puzzle was Sympheny’s ehub tool. In addition to designing and developing GUI for the SaaS product, we had to include integration with the tool’s REST API, which was being developed at the same time while we were working on our own product. Talk about being Agile!
As Milan Stojanović, Product Owner for the Sympheny SaaS, put it: “The collaboration with the Sympheny team has been refreshingly smooth. Even though they aren't a software development company, they had a solid intuition for Agile and were willing to learn & adopt Scrum.”
What’s more, they were happy with us taking full autonomy over not only the system architecture and the tech-stack, but also over the workflow and the development process. Having placed such a great level of confidence in us, the clients got in return a highly motivated team.
At the same time, their knowledge, expertise, and willingness to answer a gazillion of our questions were invaluable in making sure product development tasks were being executed on time.
Presenting the SaaS platform
Thanks to the Agile approach and flexibility of both partners, the MVP was finished in record time, and the early version of five years of Sympheny’s work has seen the light of day. That means that real estate developers and engineering consultants will have a fantastic new tool when planning energy supply for neighborhoods, villages, campuses, urban districts, as well as any new or existing building sites.
Weeks of hard work were also recognized by Sympheny’s team. As their CEO, Andrew Bollinger, put it: "We really appreciate the effort and ability of the project manager to understand our requirements. Ingsoftware's results were in line with our expectations for the project. The team has done an excellent job managing the project and meeting deadlines.”
The product is now available to select customers who want to test it and compare it to traditional energy planning methods. And once it has been validated in practice, it will be commercially available to anyone who wants to transform the way people approach and resolve the problem, which will ultimately affect the planet, minimizing infrastructure investments & energy costs.
As for Ingsoftware’s involvement - we are proud that we were able to show the depth and width of our expertise, and create a product that will change the world!