professional al financial firm looking at file cabinets

Case StudyCaso de EstudioCas d'Estudi

Agile Design Sprint for COVID19 Proof Cloud DMS

Hercules Capital (NYSE: HTGC) is a leading financial firm that provides senior secured venture growth loans to VC-backed companies in a broad variety of industries (technology, life sciences, sustainable and renewable technology...). Hercules Capital, having committed more than $10.5 billion to over 500 companies, was seeking ways to overcome critical operational inefficiencies and improve their overall document management experience.

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Challenge

A company’s Digital Transformation

Hercules Capital trusted us to drive their digital transformation to evolve their legacy, on-premise, local file system to a brand new, cloud-based, global document management system (DMS).

Employee-centered, 24/7 availability (from anywhere), and a high level of security were some of the main functional requirements uncovered by our design thinking sessions.

"Having all of our documents in a cloud-based solution has made a major difference for us in terms of speed and mobile accessibility. More so, it enabled us to face the current situation of working from home in a much more prepared state than we otherwise would have."

Christian Follmann, Head of Operations @Hercules Capital

Solution

Strategy: Design thinking with fast prototyping

We started our Design Sprints by interacting with real stuff (like paper, pens, sticky notes) and team members (e.g. financial controllers, administrative users, IT people). Opentrends Design Sprint method distills the essentials business needs and focuses on detecting and removing pain points. Together, we shaped a first paper prototype to make the interaction experienceable and test it with other Hercules Capital team members for validation. We always include technologists as part of the Design Sprint team (not just moderators), this way prototypes make working sense from the start.

It took just ten days to complete all of the Design Sprints with a valid prototype and a backlog of all user stories. Our Design Sprints do not require a full-time involvement of the client’s team. We set up a double agenda: a technical and support one. The technical agenda is run by a small portion of the client’s team who’s involved full-time in the Design Sprint sessions; the support side of the agenda runs only in the morning and includes the rest of the client’s team. This double agenda system allows us to keep focus on the Design Sprint sessions. That's really important in order to minimize external intrusions and avoid possible team discomfort and isolation.

 

"We felt that Opentrends´ design sprint approach had a very clearly outlined path, and made every piece of the process very manageable. It enabled us to think outside the box." shares Christian during an interview with our business development lead.

professionals in a design sprint session
design sprint

Methodology: Being Agile

Opentrends’ expertise in Agile development allows to move from design to deployment very quickly. With the Design Sprint’s Backlog in hand, we only needed four software development iterations before rolling out the first usable version of the DMS. All the scrum rituals were held in smooth collaboration between the product owner, Hercules Capital, and Opentrends as developer. The development progress was updated on a daily basis by every participating team member and published in the Design Sprint dashboards. Our client had the opportunity to monitor the exact developmental stage of the project at all times. 

 

‘’Agile methodology was a new approach for us, and in our experience actually a very positive and good one; it proved to be very efficient.’’
Christian Follmann, Head of Operations @Hercules Capital

men using his laptop by the yard
sticky notes on user needs uncovered during design thinking
project's timeline overview

Technology: The power of the Cloud

At first, it can be distressing for a financial company to have valuable documents reside outside their premises.  However, that concern is quickly alleviated once the great benefits of using a secure cloud system is evidenced: all documents are accessible 24/7 from anywhere to the permitted employees, automatic regulation compliance with the highest security levels, and API available for integration with legacy systems or accessory tools. 

In partnership with Box, one of the more evolved and mature players in the business cloud storage segment, Opentrends designed the architecture and developed a custom and highly differentiated document management system. 

document management VR simulator

 

"Before we started the project with Opentrends, approximately 30% of our IT infrastructure was cloud-based, now we’re at 60% - 70% overall. We’ve made substantial progress with the Opentrends team."
Christian Follmann, Head of Operations @Hercules Capital

Opentrends implemented a robust architecture to integrate the built-in Box features with the indispensable legacy software. We chose the Box Java SDK, a provided component, to develop a bridge between the existing .Net software and the Box API tools, along with an administration console designed to perform a high frequency of operations. 

 

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Outcome

Covid remote work DMS

The solution allowed Hercules Capital not only to gain internal operational efficiency and overcome legacy issues but also increase productivity outputs:

  • Reduced document turnaround time, which provides Hercules Capital shorter negotiation periods
  • Harmonized document repository, reducing departmental silos
  • A cloud-based repository, allowing to work seamlessly from and away from the office

 

The DMS was highly appreciated by the Hercules Capital team, who said that their work was by far easier with the new tool. Christian reveals how during an internal survey at Hercules Capital, they received responses such as the following one:

''Having this new DMS in place is making my work a lot easier, especially now working from home but also in our office [...] in a multitude of ways.’’

The new system materializes Hercules Capital’s roadmap toward workflow automation, and with its broad scalability capabilities is now much closer to meeting its digital transformation goals.

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Hercules Capital trusted Opentrends for their flexibility, high technological knowledge, and for their multidisciplinary teams with a multitude of viewpoints, backgrounds and different experiences. Those were considered key by Hercules Capital when thinking of a comprehensive solution to the problem they were facing.