TNS-SIFO has been the largest and most well-known market survey company in Sweden since 1954. For several decades TNS-SIFO has conducted a large consumer survey – Orvesto, where more than 50 thousand respondents across almost 30 districts answer a 48 page survey each year. Preparation of the questionnaire, handling different editions, scanning of completed surveys, printing and distribution of the survey, statistical analysis of the data, etc. all add a number of complexities to the survey process. In addition, different steps in the process are performed from different parts of Sweden.  

CIMG0016

Early beginning

In 2005, TNS-SIFO contacted Gislen Software to support them with development for Orvesto. To get a basic understanding of how the Orvesto product worked, We started by developing a report solution for the platform. This was a need for TNS-Sifo but it was also a good pilot project and gave us time to learn more about TNS-Sifo and their needs. Over the next few years we have developed various solutions for different departments initially using a traditional life cycle development methodology and later agile methodology.

The Solution

During the second half of 2007 and early 2008, workshops were conducted to discuss the integration of the design tool with the existing software solution (from the other WPP company).  In early 2008, it was decided that Gislen Software would develop a middleware solution which would tie together the existing software (from their partner company), Adobe Indesign and ReadSoft’s Eyes and Hands scanning solution. In addition, it was also decided that a version control system was needed to store different versions of questionnaires and other artefacts.

The Pre-study

Integration with existing software provided by TNS-SIFO’s partner needed further analysis as the processes used to conduct and manage surveys were different for both companies.  The terminologies were different, which led to a few more workshops where terms were mapped and integration hurdles were identified, and solutions to overcome these hurdles were identified.  TNS-SIFO’s British partner needed to add functionality to their product and also expand their API. Gislen Software needed to update the overall Requirement Specification produced earlier to satisfy the new vision and scope.

Design & Development

Though most of the integration hurdles were identified during the prestudy phase, the design phase had a few more to cross. A prototype was produced to identify performance bottlenecks (because of data transfer between the two applications) and to check if the APIs exposed by the Questionnaire application met the requirements of the middle-ware application. Gislen software also produced a screen prototype to give TNS-SIFO a feel for the application. The different parts are developed in different technology. The Plug-in for Adobe Indesign in Javascript while the main part of the technology is developed in Dot Net. Integration with the version control system and the scanning system were also done during different technologies.

The Future
The middle-ware solution was designed to meet the future need of TNS-SIFO. In case any of the components such as question database tool, survey design tool, version control, Scanning & OCR tool or reporting tool need to be changed, or if TNS-Sifo decides to run other types of surveys, then the middle-ware solution can easily be extended to support any such products.

Further collaboration

In 2009, we developed a solution for another department called PR Research business area for managing press coverage for various companies. This was a web based solution. News articles are imported into the system, and coded by coders and various reports are produced. The system was delivered in 2010 and we have since provided support and further development on the system.

In 2011, TNS-Sifo asked us to take over maintenance and development of their employee survey system from TNS-Sifo’s ERC business area. The system was built to manage very large surveys for complex organisations with up to hundred thousand employees. We sent a few staff onsite over a few months to learn and understand how the system worked and how it was developed. We developed a 360 degree survey module and have since provided a permanent team for the ERC department for support and further development. All this work has been done using Agile development methodology; Scrum & Extreme Programming.

Conclusion

Over the last 10 years Gislen Software and TNS-Sifo has had a fruitful collaboration were the close relationship between the companies has built solid result. Having worked closely together helps keeping costs low. Gislen Software has with its strong Swedish connection been an easy way for TNS-Sifo to manage the outsourcing process to India.