Disassembling a complex digital product, and rebuilding it better.

Disassembling a complex digital product, and rebuilding it better

The founder of ComplyWith, makers of legal compliance management software, wanted to offer a more comprehensive, intuitive and “beautiful” SaaS offering to its government and commercial clients.

David Woodnorth wanted the system which identifies, reports and tracks legal risks to remain fully functional for current and and new users - as Version I, morphed seamlessly into Version II.

“We wanted the plane to keep flying, as we completely changed the wings and fuselage. EndGame have absolutely delivered on that promise,” David says.

“It’s been a real partnership as we’ve worked on ‘humanising the law’.” - David Woodnorth, Founder, ComplyWith

ComplyWith’s redevelopment over the past four years, has built on the Wellington company’s 2008 inception. 

David was part of a meeting of government department CFOs discussing how legal compliance was extremely difficult and frustrating to do through the then methods of Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.

“People wanted a software solution that made it easy, made it simple to keep up to date,” he says.

David  was presented with the opportunity and introduced to software development guru Steve Marriott.

“After about six years, we could seeComplyWith could be much more than just a cool little project. It could make areal difference to businesses by bringing clarity to the way people operated.People want to do things right, and we gave them the means to do so,” says David.

By 2016 he could see the possibility of an even better Version II ComplyWith experience. 

David pondered whether to create and nurture an in-house development team, or outsource the development work for this next comprehensive body of work.

Initially he went with a local group which outsourced to overseas-based programmers.

“They thought it would be straight forward, just a database with contact pages over the top,” he says.

“But they never understood ComplyWith’s complexity, which in turn required technical depth and the right people - so we decided we needed to start again.”

Finding the best fit partner

Putting out feelers, David was put in contact with EndGame CEO Andrew Butel. 

“We chewed the fat, and I was introduced to a few people within EndGame,” David says. “They had a different proposition - one that was not about offshore development. They’d really thought hard about their process; and we decided it was one we wanted to plug into.” 

There were robust discussions on how both parties needed to operate, and how it could work for ComplyWith and EndGame.

“EndGame had to unpack our tool as it then existed in all its complexity,” David says. “But they were up for it, they embraced the fear, including the fact we wanted to be a very design-driven business.”

He says there’s an innate complexity around law, but that ComplyWith’s philosophy is about simplifying it.

“Our ambition is to have the most interesting, engaging, lovely compliance solution in the world. Indeed, something you’d even consider to have some ‘wow’ factor – not what you’d normally expect in the compliance space,” - David Woodnorth

“We wanted something that is easy to do onscreen, and the information architecture needs to help people achieve that.

“Over time with EndGame, we worked out how to make that - and the best way to achieve our big objectives was to break the work into a as small chunks of development work as possible.

“That gave us focus for the next pieces. We knew we’d be spending the next $50,000 and do this, this and this. When we got to 80% of what we wanted, we’d review and see if it was good enough to go.”

By incrementally rolling out new screens and functions to customers “we have received speed and value, which helped drive sales.”

Low developer turnover

David says one of the major benefits of contracting with an outsourced virtual team is “there’s not a new developer coming onboard every couple of months.”

“EndGame has a stable and invested workforce...and what are the odds I could’ve achieved that by having an in-house team?

“Even if I could employ the right people, how would I keep them engaged? I get the benefit of all that EndGame talent, I get all that upside.

“My focus is on achieving ComplyWith’s vision, and a key part of this translates to delivering awesome software, and to deliver this we need awesome software team working on our products.” - David Woodnorth

He says some people question whether an outsourced virtual team costs more than developing software in-house.

“We have good people doing good work. I don’t feel it is necessarily more expensive. I do feel it is money that is well spent. What we have is a real horses for courses approach, software development that is fit for purpose.”

David says he’s looking forward to the next stage of ComplyWith’s growth after maintaining good momentum during the disruptions caused by the whole Covid experience.

“We have a rebuilt platform. That’s vital. It’s no use seeking scalability with our product without the platform that can support it,” - David Woodnorth

“In a sense, up till now ComplyWith has sold itself. Next year though we’ll use our superior tech to scale, and we’ll look at investing in generating even more growth, backed by the fact we know the platform can handle it.”

High trust model

He says there is a high trust model of working alongside EndGame. He doesn’t have to audit the hours charged because “they’ve made the pain points disappear in terms of transparency of where the time is being spent.” 

“I’m also very committed to good design and its contribution to the user experience,” says David.

“We are a design-driven business. Our products must be easy to use, nice to use. It is a very important value to our team, andEndGame have embraced that, come on the journey with us to deliver it.

“Of course, that is a never ending journey.

“We’re very lucky to be in partnership with EndGame. They have a different way of working, that’s different in a good way. Good people, good process, great results!” - David Woodnorth

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