Bill Me Later

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Recognized as one of PayPal’s leading online payment services and trusted by millions by customers, Bill Me Later offers an appealing alternative to the use of conventional credit cards by providing convenience, deferred billing options and extra buying power at point of sale. As an added benefit, Bill Me Later customers also eliminate the frustration associated with rising credit card rates and inflexible account limits, while reducing the occurrence of fraud and security issues often experienced with traditional plastic. The Bill Me Later network includes hundreds of top-tier merchants including, Borders, Bluefly, Walmart.com and Zappos. Millions of consumers rely on the safety and convenience of Bill Me Later’s payment solutions when shopping online, via phone and in-store.

Technology

Tools and technology used:

  • Hibernate
  • Spring
  • spring-ws
  • xmlbeans
  • Oracle
  • Maven
  • Subversion
  • IntelliJ
  • IDEA
  • Eclipse
  • Artifactory

Challenge

Bill Me Later’s legacy work flow application had accumulated costly performance issues and bottlenecks that had begun to negatively impact both the customer experience and efficiency of the business

Bill Me Later had been using a legacy application to manage the work flows executed by their customer service agents to resolve customer disputes. This legacy application had been implemented by a third party, and was not integrated well with other existing systems inside of PayPal. For example, customer service agents would use an application called the Customer Service Application (CSA) to lookup customer information. The agents were then required to login separately to the legacy work flow application to initiate work flows related to that customer’s account, rather than simply initiating work flows directly from within CSA. In addition, the third party supporting the legacy application was on retainer, considered extremely expensive, and often took too long to respond to maintenance or support requests.

With countless merchants and customers depending on the seamless transparency and intuitive functionality of its technology, Bill Me Later quickly realized that the existing operational redundancies and technical inefficiencies within the legacy work flow application were impacting performance, and threatening the company’s ability to deliver and maintain superior customer service.
In an attempt to resolve these issues, Bill Me Later introduced a project called Work Flow Management. The goal of the project was to replace the debilitating legacy application with a new, internally owned, fully-integrated work flow system. The success of this project was dependent upon completion of the following tasks:

  • Design a new database to hold the data from the legacy application
  • Develop a web service to manage the work flow-related business rules. This service would sit in front of the new database
  • Develop a new set of user interfaces in the Customer Service Application allowing customer service agents to initiate and manage work flows directly from the same application when interacting with customers. These new user interfaces would make calls to the new web service
  • Migrate the data from the legacy application to the new database
  • Turn off the legacy application
  • Bring the new web service and new version of CSA online

Bill Me Later worked on this project for nearly a year without much progress. Plagued by a variety of problems including difficulty selecting the proper architecture and technology stack, and frustration capturing the necessary requirements, the company realized that outside expertise was critical to the success of the Work Flow Management project. Bill Me Later needed a partner that could fit seamlessly into their IT environment and instantly provide value, expertise, and employ best practices to improve development efforts and expedite delivery.

Solution

Leverage Fairway’s proprietary knowledge, technical leadership, and Scrum expertise to drive Bill Me Later’s new Work Flow Management system

Having successfully delivered multiple projects for Bill Me Later in the past, Fairway Technologies was once again solicited for their technical leadership and expertise in driving the company’s Work Flow Management project to completion. Fairway’s extensive knowledge and hands-on experience with the Customer Service Application, a key component of the Work Flow Management project, was another key asset.

Fairway immediately assumed technical leadership of the development process, and began a careful assessment of the legacy applications functionality as well as the strategic business drivers surrounding the project.

Emphasizing effective communication and an ongoing assessment of completed work, the Scrum Methodology’s capacity for adaption and flexibility made it the most obvious and appealing option for developing the new Work Flow Management system.

With a dedicated team and development strategy in place, Fairway began successful execution of the following activities:

  • Requirements – After a series of meetings with the manager in charge of customer service agents, Fairway experts identified and documented the full functionality of the existing system, as well as expectations surrounding the development of the new user interface. Key requirements were captured, reviewed, and signed-off by business stakeholders.
  • Design – As requirements were completed, Fairway experts organized UI design efforts through a series of ongoing meetings in order to ensure alignment with the company’s aesthetic and usability requirements while considering any technical limitations of the application. Fairway experts subsequently designed the new web service following the standard BML technical stack, and coordinated with a BML database architect to refine the new database schema that would be used to house the work flow-related data.
  • Implementation – Fairway began developing the new system as parts of the design were completed. Fairway experts were responsible for implementing the majority of the web service, while also providing reference implementations for the new UI’s in CSA to ensure consistency across all of the UI’s and the way they interacted with the web service.
  • Testing – To ensure that the new system’s functionality matched that of the legacy system, Fairway experts led the Bill Me Later QA team in developing a set of comprehensive tests that verified the data for each work flow type was consistent across the new and legacy systems.
  • Data Migration – Fairway experts worked closely with the Bill Me Later database architect and other Bill Me Later developers to write scripts to migrate the work flow-related data from the legacy database to the new database. Due to the significant amount of data being migrated, Fairway also helped develop scripts to ensure that no data had been missed.
  • Release & Verification – Fairway experts led the release effort several nights per week over a period of sever months. This included defining the responsibilities for all involved in the release as well as leading the Bill Me Later production support team in taking down live production systems in order to release new software and migrate data.

Benefits

Bill Me Later continues to rely on Fairway Technologies as a solutions partner for all phases of their software development life cycle, from requirements gathering, application architecture and system design to development, testing and analysis. By partnering with Fairway, Bill Me Later achieved:

  • Consolidation of multiple customer service applications into a unified global platform
  • Scalability of system components to meet the growing needs of PayPal’s customer base
  • Audit functionality that increases efficiency, compliance and security
  • Stability of customer-facing system during transition to new code base
  • Increased test coverage of active development through the adoption of test automation
  • Minimized disruption to the customer experience

Client Endorsement

“Fairway’s technical competency allowed us to get up and running quickly. Their initiative, communication skills and technical aptitude were a perfect fit for our culture and team. Fairway was able to integrate seamlessly and provide significant value throughout the project. I can ask Fairway to architect a solution and I know it will be done right.”

– Ryan Prichard, Senior Software Development Manager, PayPal.