audifon | On time delivery and compliance in health industry

Next-generation hearing devices that communicate via Bluetooth developed with the latest technology. New functionalities of sophisticated, modern, and powerful hearing systems that meet high-quality regulations and standards are developed before the deadline.

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With over 50 years of experience, Germany-based audifon has been producing various types of hearing solutions, from hearing protection to hearing aids. This involves all phases: modeling, production, testing, and servicing of devices.

The production also includes accompanying fitting software, used by audiologists during consultations with their patients. audifon entirely produces the core of its product catalog in Germany.

audifon distributes products in over 65 countries worldwide and is a member of the KIND group, a German market leader in the hearing retail business with more than 700 stores worldwide, most of them in Germany.

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Responsibilities

audifon has very competitive products and ambitious development plans. Software development is conducted internally.

However, the size of the in-house development department is insufficient to support development plans. Therefore,  there was a need to expand the team in the form of cooperation with a  reliable partner. Given the specific nature of the business, each new team requires a significant amount of time to become familiar with the overall business requirements. There is also a need to understand specific requirements around quality regulations and standards because audifon’s core products are in the health space.

The implementation deadlines are linked to two large annual events that are important for branding and customer acquisition: one in Europe,  the other in the US. Those events are crucial elements of the yearly revenue planning, so deadlines related to development in advance of those events absolutely cannot be missed.

Specifically, when audifon approached us, they needed help with the development and implementation of numerous new functionalities for their fitting software. This involved adding support for next-generation hearing devices that communicate via Bluetooth, as well as maintaining existing functionalities.  

Solution

Serengeti offered a solution in the form of the unique Team Extension Model. As audifon did not have experience with distributed software development, Serengeti’s significant knowledge and experience was a great asset.

Two Serengeti ambassadors worked for three months in Kölleda, audifon’s head office. Following the best practices of the Team Extension model, the ambassadors conducted initial testing to familiarize themselves with the application and their work processes, to gradually also become involved in the development of new functionalities. One of the basic features of the Team Extension model is team growth flexibility. As a result, a few weeks after returning to Zagreb, two members were added to the team: a developer and a tester.

audifon was reserved concerning how efficient the Serengeti team would be working remotely. However, thanks to quality preparations and a tested model of work, the transfer to remote location went smoothly, and the team soon reached full productivity.

During ambassador selection, Serengeti took into consideration the specific characteristics of the health industry, appointing individuals with experience in the area. This allowed ambassadors to become familiar with the customer’s specific task requirements. Knowledge transfer and introduction of testing tasks could now be achieved with maximum efficiency. One of the ambassadors actually later became head of the Serengeti team -- with knowledge of the health industry greatly easing his tasks as a team leader.

The team in Zagreb works as an extension of the German team and consists of two parts: a development team and a tester team. The idea is to maximize the possibilities of parallel implementation and testing of agreed functionalities.

The tasks are agreed to with the client. Conventional sprint planning transfers them to other team members. Depending on workload, all members of the team can then take on tasks independently.

Serengeti’s team leader helps the other members of the team, and communication with German colleagues takes places regularly. The leader and the remaining members of the team communicate with the client daily, even several times daily if required, all to be able to react quickly to any issues and uncertainties. 

Result

audifon, in cooperation with Serengeti, successfully implemented all of the planned functionalities and presented a new version of the application. Every pre-event KPI was met.

Serengeti then proactively recommends areas in which the entire development process could be improved on future projects.

audifon has gained a long-term software development partner, providing the customer a sufficient number of experts as part of a proven and efficient work model for all future development requirements.

In 2016 we were looking to employ several software engineers but without a lot of success. At that time, we met Serengeti but I was skeptical if nearshoring can be a valid option for us (remote team, communication in English). Today, I know it was the right decision! Meanwhile, our Serengeti team grew and became a valuable extension to our own teams.

Hartmut Richter

Head of R&D at AUDIFON GMBH

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