Custom software development Slovak State Institute for Drug Control
- Discovery phase
- Product development
- Web-based custom software
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The State institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL) is a budget organization of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Among other things it governs the section of humane pharmacy and drug precursors. Put simply, it controls all drugs that you can buy in Slovak market pharmacies. Every drug sold in the market goes through ŠÚKL, otherwise, it cannot be distributed. But watch out, approval of ŠÚKL doesn’t necessarily mean the drug will be “categorised “and therefore paid by health insurance companies. This agenda is under the control of the Ministry of Health.
Assignment of the public procurement was set so that ŠÚKL was apparently expecting a boxed solution, which is popular on the European market. We went the harder way – creating our product which meets all the difficult requirements defined by our client.
The term was a problem. We’ve had 3 months in which we had to deliver the product and import over 120 thousand sequences, around 16 terabytes of data, from various data storages in different structures. We’ve made it, and the system has been being used since January 2019.
Our custom software is built on web technologies. It runs in a common environment of a modern internet browser, and is inaccessible from the outside environment. It runs on a Linux virtual server and uses several connected data storages to hold a huge amount of data. We’ve tried to make it easier for the users. That’s why the login is made with Active Directory (LDAP). The users’ access is identical with the accesses of the Windows domain within the institute.
User interface is intuitive. The User training, which was a part of our assignment, was relatively straightforward and with no major problems. An everyday user of the standard PC shouldn’t have many questions. UI/UX was something we’ve spent a long time on, and we took great care to get to know the user procedures and workflow.
Without getting to know the common use-cases of the software in detail, we couldn’t design a suitable UI/UX. Therefore we asked many questions during the analytical phase of the project.
We ensured the Server solution of the whole project internally with the help of our own administrators. The server had to be configured in a way to be allowed to work in an internet network environment, ensure it was safe, performing, and able to serve the requirements in a certain time as stated in the contract.
Thanks to this solution, we’ve saved a lot of time on the lengthy installation of any client software because the whole system runs only in a web browser. This not only cuts the cost of development but also the cost of the subsequent software care. This way, we simplify the updates and requirements it has on the user. It also simplifies the IT capacities of the client.
A client who wins his supplier, but didn’t choose him, understandably has a skeptical approach. We’ve cleared this distrust in our introductory meetings. After delivering the first alpha version of the system, they didn’t have any doubts. During the development, we progressed quickly. The development was done in a few planned sprints. But no plan ever works out perfectly. The team tries to ensure that on deadline, everything will fit together like a puzzle piece. Our cooperation will take three years. That is why we wanted to build a correct and professional relationship right from the beginning. And we did.
The previous software, various data storages, and data structures, unavailability of the documentation or contactlessness of the historical supplies. All of these complicated the migration of around 100-120 thousand sequences with a volume of around 16 terabytes. It was necessary to analyze the data, make migration scripts for pairing with the new, better data structure, and secure the migration so the workers of ŠÚKL will have all the data they were accustomed to with a new look right at the day of the production launch. And we managed to do it.
Term in which it would be problematic to implement a boxed software and almost impossible to create custom software for the processes of a big state institute. Thanks to well-chosen project management and ideally combined development team, we delivered the project in the contract stated term, with no delays or complications, so it could be running as expected.
The information system is successfully implemented in the ŠÚKL interface. It’s regularly used by hundreds of users who, on a daily average, upload 90 sequences with volumes of several GB. Thanks to complex custom software, we can speed up processing documents and registration processes, which pharmaceutical companies often complain about. We’ve transformed the “data chaos” into a strict and simple logic that we’ve described in detail in the software’s technical documentation.
Thanks to this, every supplier who will come after us will have easier work and can follow up on our delivered product. At the moment, we provide 3-year support, guarantee the availability of the software, and work on finishing on-demand requests, because as in other cases – the delivery of the software is not the end of the cooperation – it’s the beginning.
The success or failure of the project doesn’t solely depend on the supplier. The management and the responsible people from the client’s side are also important factors that can positively or negatively affect the project. The recreational times for requests, competency of the responsible people, their orientation in IT, and understanding of the development processes are some of the basic preconditions for successfully finishing a project – regardless of the supplier. We’d like to thank the management of ŠÚKL, who were very helpful during the development and, by their professionalism, greatly contributed to the whole – positive – result of the project.