Industry: Branded Payments and Financial Services
Location: Pleasanton, CA, the U.S.
Partnership period: Since 2017.
Team size: 78 experts.
Services: Business Processes and Multiple Software Assets Consolidation, Custom Software Development, Data Transformation/Migration, and Post-Transition Support.
Expertise delivered: Architecture Design, DDD, UI/UX, Mobile/Design First, and Microservices Architecture.
BlackHawk Network Inc. (BHN) is a U.S.-headquartered, globally leading provider of branded payment technology solutions, whose history spans more than two decades. The company employs around 4,000 people and serves 28 countries. BHN has hundreds of clients and partners that include such market leaders and iconic brands as Kroger, Simon, Disney, Staples, iTunes, BestBuy, Target, and eBay.
BlackHawk Network focuses largely on gift cards and eGifts, but also provides some other solutions, like corporate payouts, Relief Support, and Alternative Payment Solutions.
BlackHawk Network’s market expansion strategy was to increase the volumes of their online gift card sales by expanding the company’s business reach and acquiring smaller companies working in this field, such as NimbleCommerсe and Cashstar.
Prior to the acquisition of the Silicon Valley-based NimbleCommerce by BHN in 2016, we had first developed NimbleCommerce’s white-label eCommerce platform from scratch and then been providing ongoing support for it. When BlackHawk Network acquired NimbleCommerce, SPD Technology became the new owner’s software development partner.
BHN had to come up with and build an integration strategy for the smaller companies they now owned. It was necessary to decide which of these smaller businesses needed to be focused on first turn, expanded, or, conversely, closed down.
Therefore, the overall challenge was to consolidate 8 different eCommerce software assets, each of which included several different services (onboarding, accounting, finance, fraud risks, and so on) into one single unified system. These software assets also needed to be aligned with BHN’s primary business model. Additionally, BHN needed to optimize the related costs and achieve maximum automation, as some of the related legacy business processes remained manual.
BlackHawk Network engaged SPD Technology to implement this mission-critical project in its entirety.
The BA and Consulting phase
The development phase of the project was preceded by an intensive business analysis and consulting phase. Our consultants interacted extensively with the numerous process actors, who represented the client’s newly acquired eCommerce businesses.
As a result, our BAs and consultants defined the new domain model and business processes for the new single consolidated solution. Our software architects designed the software architecture for this solution.
While Implementing the project, our project teams encountered an entire host of formidable challenges we have all but overcome.
BHN and the client’s newly acquired eCommerce businesses had software of their own. Moreover, each of the eCommerce merchants BHN acquired had different onboarding, accounting, finance, fraud detection, risk management, and other software. The integration between those services was quite weak. The different UI/UXs and software architectures resulted in different user experiences and created a great deal of confusion.
Furthermore, there was a large amount of manual work that caused delays and operational ineffectiveness. For example, BHN’s financial department (10-20 employees) had to extract data from one system, put it into Excel files, process these files, and then send them to another system. The functionality of the new platform needed to automate this and numerous other manual business processes.
The product catalog purchase flows, orders and order management, as well as some other parts of the functionality suffered from logic duplication. Some of the systems being integrated were legacy ones. They had fairly low software quality and a long history of software patches and other changes.
The need to retrieve and combine data from the multiple platforms made report generation both time-consuming and effort-intensive. Using the multiple software assets led to a lack of strategic consolidated knowledge and made it quite difficult to exercise financial control. To aggravate, there was the constant risk of data corruption and loss that could result in financial and reputational losses.
The required multi-platform support and the need to add any new features to the multiple software assets were associated with exceedingly high costs. The client also had to maintain a separate infrastructure for each of the platforms, which, in turn, entailed significant maintenance costs. Finally, the in-house data center support was quite costly too.
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The Development phase
To kick off the development, SPD Technology put together a total of 6 project teams that were split into two main groups. The first three teams were tasked with developing the core functionality of the client’s system, while the other three worked on an ecosystem that comprised more than 30 microservices.
Although the domain model was more than once modified during the implementation process, most of the time our project teams followed its initial main concept. They identified the critical data, prioritized the migration tasks, and provided timing and performance assumptions.
As a result, our project teams successfully integrated all of the client’s software assets and consolidated them into one single platform.
To achieve the project goals, we have developed a centralized console that is used to manage around 100 connected services. We have also designed and integrated an advanced BI reporting system that provides 40+MM records per day and supports more than a hundred report types. This system constantly generates valuable information for data-driven insights.
In developing the solution, our project team fulfilled a spectrum of data-related tasks. They developed five ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) microservices for obtaining data from the client’s systems (including legacy ones) and transforming this data to fit the new domain model.
Besides, our experts developed four microservices for the monitoring of changes and updating of data across all the ecosystems and an array of financial reporting microservices.
The functionality our project teams have developed includes the functions that allow presenting information from across the entire system in the form of easy-to-understand business reports. These reports contain information on the overall progress, sales, and new clients.
To streamline and facilitate the client’s global customer management, our engineers created from scratch the Original Content platform. This platform offers a wide range of functionality for the rapid onboarding of account-managed clients. It provides the full cycle of transaction decisioning and decline management, settlements, fraud control, and reporting. Furthermore, the Original Content platform also provides self-service portals for the onboarding of SMBs, administration, and consumer engagement.
In parallel with developing the new functionality, our experts were also engaged in maintaining the client’s legacy platform.
Summing it up, the consolidated solution SPD Technology has delivered provides:
- Seamless restructuring of business systems with zero business disruption.
- A consolidated System Architecture to drive strategic plans without budget increases and to optimize headcount.
- Data migration and reconciliation tools to move data of any complexity, while ensuring its integrity.
- Advanced and flexible BI reporting to generate reports and analytics.
SPD Technology’s project team has used the following tech stack to implement the project:
- AWS (Redshift, Lambda, S3, Athena, Redis, ElasticSearch, Kinesis, AWS SNS/SQS, etc.)
- Spring Framework, including Spring Boot components
- Event Sourcing
- Gateway Service
- Authentication and Authorization (Attribute-Based Access Control)
SPD Technology has built a high-scaled, enterprise-grade Consolidated Enterprise Platform by unifying BlackHawk Network’s 8 different newly acquired eCommerce software platforms and adding a large amount of diverse new functionality. The consolidated platform has more than 80 services. Its new functionality includes an advanced reporting BI system (40+MM records per day and 100+ supported report types).
Our experts have migrated data of varying complexity from the client’s less efficient platforms with the help of proprietary data migration and reconciliation tools. Thus, we have efficiently supported the client’s strategic and extremely complex business expansion, making it as smooth and productive as possible. The integration of the client’s multiple software assets was completed by SPD Technology without any disruption to their critical business processes.
Replacing the legacy systems with a new consolidated platform has created a savings to the client of $200K per month in operational (server, database, and tech staff support) expenses.
SPD Technology continues to help ensure the efficiency and quality of BlackHawk Network’s core business operations after the completion of their mission-critical project and remains their strategic custom software development partner.
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