Product development takeaways

Building a customizable dashboard for a market-research SaaS

Learn how we helped CYS Group build a powerful dashboard with customizable widgets and the takeways from the feature development.

Talk to Jeroen, our Accounts director, to see if our ready-to-code dev teams are a fit for you.

Let’s say you’re looking for a front-end team who can handle a complex and customizable customer-facing dashboard in Angular. Finding the right tech talent locally might be a challenge. But if you tap into the global IT talent pool, and you’ll almost certainly find the expertise you’re looking for, at a cost-effective price.

For many software companies, hiring offshore developers has a lot of advantages – particularly if your needs are niche, and you want to cut your time-to-market.

As an example, here’s the story of how one of our remote dev teams built a powerful dashboard for a market research SaaS platform, what was needed, how we approached it, and what we learned.

Why dashboards are important

With so much valuable data flying around, especially in a field like market research, it’s important to have centralized and clear oversight in order to do more with your data. Dashboards have become the go-to solution for visualizing data in order to make it meaningful, derive actionable insights, and ultimately inform decision-making.  

When data is essential for the continuous improvement of your business, you need to be able to view it and articulate it in the most useful ways possible. This can be particularly challenging when you need to gather and synthesize data from multiple sources. Connected to a variety of data sets, a dashboard is a customizable window into all that data you’re collecting.

What was needed

Building a dashboard is one thing, typically they’re fairly static with standardized visualizations for things like sales and revenue. But creating a powerful dashboard for a market research SaaS platform – that’s a next-level task. 

Market research is all about data. A lot of data. That means your customers need multiple ways to visualize it – over and above your average dashboard. So when we collaborated with CYS Group on their market research SaaS product, it was one of the most advanced builds we’d ever done.   

Users of this dashboard needed a whole host of customizable widgets to eliminate the need to export data to a spreadsheet and manually create graphs and infographics. This tool needed to do it all.

How it was built​

Having previously worked on other market research tools, the Proshore team had knowledge around the industry, but we also added value through Agile ways of working. This enabled us to seamlessly integrate with an existing development team in India and align our sprint cycles. 

Whilst an in-house team worked on the backend, we developed the front end. Compared with similar web application frameworks, Angular is more structured. It requires more technical expertise and has a steep learning curve. The trouble is, it’s hard to find developers with the right skills for working with Angular. 

The pay-off for SaaS companies using Angular is robust and reliable code. It also has a strong boilerplate and a range of tools which, with the right know-how, make developing the front end of an application much easier. That means not everything has to be built from scratch. There are ready-made components which help make it highly scalable and secure. 

In terms of coding in Angular, if any gets broken during the development phase, it gets automatically flagged before going into production, which helps quality assurance.

Read our guide on hiring offshore Angular Developers

How we collaborated

With an experienced team of Angular developers, Proshore was the ideal offshore software development partner for building a powerful, customizable dashboard. We were also experienced in Agile ways of working. 

Running on separate sprint cycles meant we could align with the in-house team. Before work on the front end could begin, the backend and connecting APIs needed to be ready. Once the data points and everything else was in place, then we could begin our work. 

Using Scrum, we were able to work collaboratively whilst creating different features. It helped us see the big picture whilst focusing on the work to be done. In other words, two teams were working separately yet collaboratively to create a single product.

Challenges we faced

This was no ordinary dashboard. It contained numerous widgets, and each widget contained its own data, with different states to manage. This data was generated through multiple calculation methods and special formulas. To build it, we also had to understand over 50 infographics.

Every calculation needed to be checked and verified with the APIs before ensuring that the data was being handled in the right way. With market research data, there are various scales, so we had to ensure the scales were correctly processed. Backwards compatibility was also a key consideration. New functionality needed to work not only with the latest dashboard but with older versions as well. This involved extensive testing.

One of the most sophisticated features of the dashboard is the ability for users to render their own image SVG (scalable vector graphic) charts. This enables them to create infographics. To facilitate this, we needed to create a UI to enable them to drag and drop within the image itself. This also had to be able to update dynamically as per the API.  

For many standard dashboard builds, there are libraries of ready-made third-party tools. However, due to the specialist requirement of this market research SaaS platform, there simply weren’t any third-party offerings. As a result, we built our own custom libraries from scratch.  

So in order to achieve the end-goal of a highly customizable market research dashboard, we not only had to connect the correct data through APIs, we had to build additional libraries to handle the required level of dynamic customization needed.

How CYS utilized Proshore's dedicated team to remodel and increase their development capacity – accelerating their roadmap and taking their market research platform from MVP to maturity.

What we learned

This was a landmark build for Proshore. After successfully completing the dashboard, and seeing it go live, our team feels like they can build anything.

We now have a much deeper understanding of highly-complex dashboards, the level of customization needed, and how much dynamic information is required. Ultimately, we learned how much potential there is for visualizing data for users, and how important it is to get calculations 100% accurate – because this data is driving decision-making at a high level. 

Key learnings that we’ve taken forward from this collaboration are:

  • Terminology: Software development is highly technical. Ensure collaborating teams communicate clearly by agreeing and using the same terminology.
  • Business Logic: Make sure that all team members understand the business logic of the build. It’s easy enough to follow instructions, but you need to understand the user.
  • Open-mindedness: Take experience and knowledge forward into your next development, but don’t make any assumptions. No two dashboards are the same!

Sometimes in software development, there’s a business need to augment an existing in-house or offshore team, increasing capacity to speed up development. Other times, there’s a need to add value by bringing in specialist, outside knowledge. And often you need both –  extra capacity and expertise. That’s where Proshore comes in. 

Need to build a complex and customizable dashboard for your software product? Book a call to discover out how we can help.

Babish & Jeroen
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