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Enhancing POS SaaS Development: Case Study

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The concept of Saas POS systems is at its peak, as more and more restaurants and ghost kitchens experience a need for powerful but agile software pieces that help to process orders and manage kitchen operations.

POS providers for hospitality businesses encounter a lot of issues on their way to dominating the market, and mostly they are related to technical challenges and limited possibilities to grow with the initial resources available. However, it can be easily mitigated with the help of a software development vendor, and the Altamira team has gained this exact experience by working on POS development. We gathered the main insight you should know while scaling your project with the help of an outsourcing software company.

The Initial Challenges of SaaS POS System Development

Our client is developing a massive POS system for the restaurant industry. The goal of this cloud-based POS system is to simplify life for restaurant owners and their teams by enhancing the business processes and operations. This system is tailored different types of restaurants and delivery services, from classical diners to ghost kitchens serving several brands.

The company was looking for a vendor who can help them scale the development process and cover the development of a mobile version for mobile POS hardware, namely POS terminals. The in-house team has been already working on the back-end part of the project, and our responsibilities have become to deliver a functional mobile application with intuitive design and easy navigation.

At first glance, it might seem like a usual mobile web development project. However, it’s not completely true, as the next challenges were present as well:

  • the company needed to scale up its development, but there was no clear roadmap for this purpose;
  • the timeline was short, and the project needed to be completed as soon as possible;
  • there was a need to expand a team, but the hiring and onboarding processes were intuitive and not 100% efficient.

The understanding of these points helped us to come up with the concept of how to build up the processes for POS system development, how to establish efficient communication and cooperation with the in-house team, and what is crucial for a stable and scaling development process.

The Main Insights You Should Know on POS Systems Development

Features & Non-Functional Requirements

The solution includes the classical features you can see in the most POS systems:

  • Authentication & Authorization;
  • Brand management;
  • User profile;
  • Inventory management;
  • Order creation;
  • Checkout & credit card processing;
  • Order management;
  • Printer and table settings;
  • Loyalty programs
  • Offline mode & remote access.

At the same time, besides thinking through and planning features, it’s important to take non-functional requirements (NFRs) into consideration. They describe system attributes like reliability, security, scalability, usability, etc., and dictate what technical requirements should be implemented for successful and stable system operation.

Through every non-technical requirement that should be attentively assessed, we would highlight two main NFRs for modern POS systems: scalability and recovery.

Scalability includes all the requirements that will guarantee that the system will work stable when the number of users will grow. However, to formulate requirements correctly and hence to build an appropriate infrastructure, the team should understand the future goals and user growth. The technologies to build a SaaS POS system  for 500 users and 10 thousand users are different, and you may need to use different approaches as well. So, if you want to start with the MVP development and test it on 100 clients, but later you want to grow the user base up to thousands, you should consider it in the initial stages of the project. Otherwise, you may need to redevelop the software and its architecture when the audience starts to scale up.

Recovery and fault tolerance are other important characteristics of the SaaS POS systems. There is always a chance that the system may crash, but it shouldn’t affect the performance of end-point clients — kitchens and restaurants who still have chains of orders to be processed and delivered. Hence, the team should be able to constantly monitor it, and quickly resolve the issues if they arise, and the system should be designed to facilitate these tasks.

Architecture

Adequate solution architecture is essential for any large and ongoing development. It’s especially critical if, as in our case, the POS system is already in production and being used by end-point customers: restaurant owners and its crew.

To guarantee the successful outcome of your effort for SaaS POS system development, you shouldn’t jump directly into the development. Such an approach will lead only to a chaotic process and, considering the scale of the development, you will generate a lot of problems and bugs.

We suggest adopting a more thoughtful process and starting with the Discovery stage. Here, you will be able to take enough time to write quality NFRs, evaluate future system load, figure out how the system will withstand it, and plan the architecture. After that, it is wise to move to the development itself.

While the development is going further, the architecture should also think through the support system for the production. For example, at this stage, we implemented logging and monitoring systems and prepared a maintenance mode for the project in production.

Cooperation with In-House Team

As we have already mentioned, we have cooperated with our client’s in-house team. Our responsibilities were different, as both our and their team were working on different parts of the whole product. However, mutual understanding and cooperation were key for rapid, efficient development.

The biggest challenge here is to improve team management establish seamless communication between two teams. Even when both crews are developing different parts of software, for example, front-end and back-end, there should be a place for synchronization and flow of information. Otherwise, the time of the teams might be wasted, as they would develop the same functionality simultaneously or create incomparable code.

The solution we come up with is to work as a distributed team with one project manager, and joint planning, coordination, and daily meetings.

Product Vision of the POS system

The product manager is a must-have part of the development team of  SaaS POS providers. This specialist helps us understand where are we going. As the timeline for such time of projects takes several years, we need to understand business model, long-term perspectives and goals. If we know what we should achieve in six, twelve, or eighteen months, we are able to predict scaling and build the processes accordingly.

Another important role of a product manager is to interact with end-point users and gather feedback on the software. It will help to make your system more user-friendly and grow customer loyalty as it would cater to their real needs. Nevertheless, it’s also significant to keep priorities balanced between already planned backlog tasks and new improvements comprehended from user feedback.

Team Composition

What specialist should your team include? Apart from obvious developers, UI/UX designers, and QA engineers, there is a need for other technical positions that will guide you and the team through the development process.


Architect
We’ve already discussed the importance of beforehand- and well-planned architecture. An architect is a person who makes high-level decisions regarding technical standards and preferred tools, libraries, and platforms for development. They determine how your software should be built, and a competent architect can mitigate the possible risks with adequate planning.
DevOps
It is another crucial role in the team, as this engineer is the one who crosses the barrier between developers, QA engineers, and other tech staff and creates and supports a holistic IT environment. Let’s look through the responsibilities of DevOps on the software as a service POS project. Here, one of the main tasks was to provide sufficient, cost-efficient infrastructure for massive system load. DevOps also covers the team with the necessary environment for preproduction and production testing, sets up CI/CD, creates a warning system for any issues or bugs on productions, monitors CPU load, enhances automation in the development processes, and so on. Basically, DevOps is on guard to ensure that the project is stable, doesn’t crash, or quickly recovers if something eventually went wrong. As a result, it also leads to a less maintenance costs you will need to support your point of sale system. 
Tech Leads
They are extremely experienced developers in their domain, whether it’s front-end, back-end, or mobile. However, ideally, tech leads should not code themselves. And here are a few reasons why we think this way. If your development is scaling, you need to onboard more and more people over time. The lack of documentation and standardized processes slows downs the integration of new people, and they don’t bring the desired efficiency or increased velocity to the project. And it’s the issues that tech leads can resolve. By preparing technical documentation on the project and process setup, a tech lead can easily help new developers integrate into the team and start efficient work pretty quickly. Tech leads can also conduct code reviews and necessary research. Such a system ensures knowledge transfer between the development team which, in turn, improves its performance.

Ensuring Stability of the SaaS POS Software and Its Development

To ensure a stable development process, you need to combine every practice we have described in this article. Basically, the checklist of “must-haves” may look like this:

  • a clear understanding of long-term goals and perspectives;
  • the product roadmap for a long period;
  • adequate planning and stable priorities;
  • every sprint includes enough time for testing and documentation update;
  • regular unit tests, API tests, MTM tests;
  • maximal automation in the development process.
  • regular code refactoring;
  • established onboarding system for new team members;
  • constant monitoring of POS system load;
  • rational use of the tech leads’ efforts.

To implement all of the aforementioned aspects, you may need the help of experienced experts in startup scaling. They will be able to contribute their previous experience to guide you through the process setup.

Conclusions

As you can see, the development of SaaS POS software is a challenging process. A lot of specific knowledge is needed to avoid the most common mistakes. To ensure the most efficient development and cooperation, we suggest POS providers choose a vendor with relevant experience in POS software development and scaling.

FAQ

Every project needs separate estimations, but usually, we need at least 6 months of work with the client to achieve the previously set goals.
The team composition and the cost depends on your needs and requests. On average, the monthly check is around $40-50 thousand USD.

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