How Epay Harnessed Agile & Apptio Targetprocess for Customer Support

“Once you get in and you realize the flexibility of the system, you have an ‘aha’ moment where you realize just how much the tool can do.”

Who is Epay?

Epay is a leading processor of financial transactions and prepaid content. If you’ve ever used a gift card or conducted a pin-based transaction, epay was probably involved. They have helped to facilitate over 10 billion transactions since 2003, and their software modules connect customers around the world with hundreds of thousands of products and services.

Epay’s customers are a varied group with divergent needs, so epay has to work hard to make sure every segment is being taken care of properly. They serve retailers, content providers, distributors, and service operators in 35 countries around the globe. Agile practices make it possible for epay’s teams to develop a partnership-based relationship with each individual customer.

Culture and Process

The Agile Methodology has enabled epay to be more nimble in their responses to shifting customer needs. Rather than relying solely on the project requirements by provided by clients, epay goes the extra mile to get to know their customers. They then propose comprehensive solutions based on the client’s business. Work is done in iterations, and the standard company process contains strong flavors of Scrum.

Many of the projects epay works on are contract driven with specific start and end dates. Managers must provide project plans to stakeholders and keep track of key milestones in order to meet customer deadlines. Teams are encouraged to formulate their own process and work independently, but must also be able to report progress up the hierarchy in a more traditional fashion. The resulting process is a functional compromise between the responsiveness of Agile and the reliability of more traditional structures.

entities and 32 processes
users (Software Development, QA, Support)
adopted Targetprocess
projects running at any given time

Problems that needed solving

Before Targetprocess, epay’s teams used different software tools for QA, development, and support. Management would use Excel sheets to plan projects, and team members would have to manually transfer requirements, progress updates, and completed work between the multiple solutions. This system worked, but much time was wasted, and many headaches were caused.

Epay needed a solution that could eliminate extraneous work, reflect the real-time status of multiple projects, and unify the efforts of their teams in one central location. The new tool had to be able to encourage the company’s rising Agile culture, while still fulfilling the company’s more traditional needs. To find such a solution, epay set several goals for their new tool:

  • Get all or most teams working on the same software
  • Must be flexible enough to model different processes across projects
  • Consistently release quality work on time
  • Must be able to help manage customer expectations
  • Must allow for easy traceability for all work items (especially requests)

Switching to Targetprocess

Nick Ide, a Senior Software Engineer at epay and the architect of their switch to a new management solution, was initially skeptical of Targetprocess. However, after seeing a product demo and playing around inside the tool, things began to speed up. Internal resistance to the change also fell after a few training sessions with our Product Specialists.

To tailor Targetprocess around epay’s process, Nick created some new custom fields for project start and end dates (we have since implemented built-in fields for this data). He also created a mashup to assist with creating audit reports. The mashup visually alerted users when any required fields were left incomplete. Epay no longer needs to use this mashup, because our visual encoding feature now satisfies this requirement for them.

Once you get in and you realize the flexibility of the system, you have an ‘aha’ moment where you realize just how much the tool can do.

Nick Ide
Director of Software Engineering

The Benefits

  • Increased acceptance and adoption of agile practices
  • A central place to manage work and spot problems before they happen
  • A marked decrease in emails, meetings, and headaches
  • Visibility across teams and projects has resulted in more effective change management

Fewer Headaches

Testing requirements and change documentation are now easily available from one central location. The ability to link work items and change management requests has helped to drastically reduce the amount of management headaches. Creating reports for audits is now a much simpler task, because management does not have to hunt down data through multiple software tools: almost every work item can be traced from start to finish through Targetprocess.

More Flexibility

The ability to model any process and use varying processes across teams (even within the same project) is a key benefit for epay. Their teams need to have the freedom to build their own process and not be shoehorned into a predefined setup. Targetprocess’ visual approach and focus on transparency helps managers to oversee these different processes in a unified manner, without sacrificing personalizations at the individual and team levels.

You can create a customized way of organizing your work, which makes you as an individual more efficient. Our teams love having that freedom.

Nick Ide
Director of Software Engineering

Time Saved

The integration of Request Management, our Service Desk, and our Inbound Email Integration has helped epay’s teams save immense amounts of time. They are able to triage incoming work items, send replies to customers, and assign work to team members, all inside of Targetprocess. This saves time, reduces extraneous emails, and improves the traceability of these work items, making it easier to keep track of customer requests.

“One of the ways Targetprocess helped us was with our solutions center (a tier-2 help desk). We would get bombarded with emails and requests would get lost in the ether. Keeping customers happy and making sure we were working on the most important thing was tough. Then, we set up email integration in Targetprocess and began using the Helpdesk. Now, everything we do that’s non-project related comes through our email integration and ends up as a request in the system.”

Request management isn’t the only area where epay team members have been able to save time; improvement has also occurred at a more granular level. Daily tasks that aren’t normally thought of as time consuming have been made more efficient.

One of the deciding factors for us was how easy it was to create a new work item in Targetprocess. With some of the other solutions we tried, even this simple task was beyond tedious. Engineers could spend an entire day just entering their work into the system. Targetprocess’ Quick Add button was a lifesaver for us.

Nick Ide
Director of Software Engineering

Recommendations for other companies

Nick Ide spent a lot of time evaluating different solutions for epay. In his opinion, it’s important to consider the whole picture. You can’t just think about a new solution from a macro management perspective; you have to examine how usable it will be for employees at any given level of the hierarchy. Most importantly, you have to pick a tool that can evolve around your process, rather than one that forces you into its own preset workflows.

Targetprocess works for epay because the tool’s open structure matches their culture of democracy and personal responsibility. When a more traditional approach is called for, epay is able to model the system to match those requirements too.

I always suggest Targetprocess to everyone who is looking to evaluate something. The visual approach is great. I’m a visual learner; to be able to create these views and visual representations of your project data is definitely something Targetprocess does very well.

Nick Ide
Director of Software Engineering

Additional Resources