QualMap: A New Data Management System for Comprehensive Food Quality and Safety Analysis
Centric builds a custom software product that gives Mérieux NutriSciences’ clients detailed food-testing analytics for improved quality and safety.
The Business Need
Suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, grocery retailers, and restaurants all collect data on the quality and safety of the food we consume. Monitoring this information is important for efficient production and to ensure the quality and safety of the process.
With 50 years of experience in food quality, safety, and testing, Mérieux NutriSciences wanted to improve their existing application portfolio to make it easier for their clients to track, analyze and present food quality data in a way that is customizable and scalable for their needs.
While their original software applications gave clients the ability to view lab test results, the user interfaces of these applications did not present robust data visualizations or in-depth analyses in a way that allowed clients to quickly identify and resolve key issues. Also difficult was keeping up with the software development needs of these applications.
As a result, Mérieux NutriSciences’ leaders knew they needed to improve their application portfolio and provide their clients with the information necessary to make better food quality and safety decisions.
After hearing about Centric Consulting’s strengths in solving business and technology challenges through the development of custom solutions, Mérieux NutriSciences partnered with Centric to:
- Perform an architectural assessment.
- Build product prototypes.
- Develop a custom, client-facing application that enabled Mérieux NutriSciences clients to analyze and report trends in their data.
Mérieux NutriSciences has been a great partner. Our team was excited to work with them on this critical initiative of building QualMap, a scalable, configurable application that will meet the needs of their global, multilingual client base – Bill Chamberlain, Director of Technology for Centric Consulting’s Chicago office
A team of Centric architects performed an initial assessment to understand the technical underpinnings of the existing application portfolio, which included analyses of accompanying databases. Centric also met with Mérieux NutriSciences’ project leaders to understand existing application functionality, as well as desired needs and improvements.
Product prototypes served as input for the construction phase. They provided a platform on which the remainder of the application, database, and data ingestion processes were built and deployed to Amazon Web Services (AWS). This platform was built using:
- Angular and D3 for a responsive, data-visualization-focused frontend.
- Java technologies for secure services to enable future product evolution.
- Pentaho Data Integration and the PostgreSQL database product for data ingestion, data transformation, and data storage, often referred to as ETL (extract, transform, and load).
Development of a Custom, Client-Facing Application
During the project construction phase, Centric formed a software development team from the initial team of architects that grew to include a Scrum Master, business analysts, and developers with expertise in user experience (UX), service and ETL development, and testing.
The team worked together to develop and deploy a modern, central, feature-rich platform called QualMap that provides clients with the ability to anticipate, remedy, and prevent issues by tracking, analyzing, and correcting food quality and safety concerns.
Throughout the project, the team followed agile principles to deliver functional and technical improvements across a series of two-week increments called Sprints, enabling Mérieux NutriSciences to focus on higher priority needs, reprioritize as needed, and evaluate development efforts on a timely basis. This way, business and technical stakeholders could provide ongoing input so that project priorities could continue to be reassessed.
In addition to construction of the product, Centric partnered with Mérieux NutriSciences to establish their software development organization around use of the Scrum agile framework that included:
- Change control for application source code and database schemas to enable stability across development environments and software releases.
- Continuous integration for development builds and deployments for timely monitoring and resolution of issues.
- Data mapping and ingestion processes to allow for data integration from new and existing clients.
- Deployment to AWS for multiple client regions across the globe.
Centric also trained some Mérieux NutriSciences resources on fulfilling the Scrum project roles of Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Developer (a role assigned to business analysts, developers, and testers). This training helped enable Mérieux NutriSciences to become more self-sufficient, as the roles of the Centric team transitioned to development and database management areas of expertise.
From QualMap’s single login, clients can now identify risk factors, check quality, verify efficiency, and analyze production data.
QualMap has already had a positive impact on Mérieux NutriSciences and their clients including:
- Configurable Platform: Mérieux NutriSciences can more easily scale the application to meet client needs. Previously, client requests typically resulted in changes that required client-specific code. With QualMap, Mérieux NutriSciences can now support a wide range of client requirements, such as configurable user access to data views and how these views are displayed for each client, without the need for further software development.
- Client Support: The original Mérieux NutriSciences development team can now provide greater focus on supporting existing clients and developing new features for the application.
- Experienced Resources: With the help of Centric, the Mérieux NutriSciences team is now a progressive software development organization with the ability to effectively manage business requirements, as well as to build, configure, deploy, and test throughout the QualMap product lifecycle.
- Improved Delivery: Because QualMap was designed with usability in mind, not just for Mérieux NutriSciences client users of the application, but also for the internal Mérieux NutriSciences development team, tasks can be performed more efficiently than in the past.
Mérieux NutriSciences has since started demonstrating QualMap to clients so that they can experience for themselves the benefits of spending less time managing data in spreadsheets and more time improving food safety and quality initiatives. As a result, the company has started selling QualMap to new clients, including a top fast food restaurant chain.
Mérieux NutriSciences now has a customizable software product they can sustain and improve going forward.
“We are excited to launch QualMap. Mérieux NutriSciences is the leader in the food safety industry and our digital presence will allow our clients to get insights quicker and see their data in completely new ways,” said Kevin Hoffmann, Vice President, QualMap Product Solutions at Mérieux NutriSciences – North America.
“Centric listened to our needs and was able to jump in and get a quick understanding of our business vertical and adapt their development needs to help us execute efficiently.”