FARA ASA is a leading Scandinavian provider of Automatic Car Seat Management for Public Transport (AFC) that would develop a generic AFC product based on requirements from five different customers. The available development time was short and the budget limited. For more than 2 years, Gislen Software provided 20 Indian developers and built the web-based solution for the central system, data synchronization via GPRS, and a framework for different types of bus computers. The total size of the project in India was approx. 55 thousand hours, making this one of the largest projects ever outsourced from Norway to India!

Fara2bakground

Q-Free ASA is and is a world-leading comprehensive supplier of intelligent transport systems and toll systems. In 2004, Q-Free received five major projects for AFC (smart card ticketing systems) and started developing a product. As a result of this, Fara was founded. Today, FARA ASA is one of the leading manufacturers of ticket systems for public transport in Scandinavia. The project involved the development of both hardware and software. The environmental factors for bus computers are among the toughest things you can imagine. Apart from vibration, the bus computer mounted on the bus must reach temperatures from -45 to +90 degrees. Although the hardware was a challenge, it was not the only one. GPS positioning of the bus, GPRS alarm solutions in sparsely populated areas, battery life when outdoor temperature is well below zero. Further new national standards for smart cards that changed during the course of the project. In addition, the outsourced part was one of the largest software projects ever made from Norway to India.

Requirements & Design

A team of three Indians and one Swedish was sent to Trondheim and worked with Q-Free’s staff and Norwegian consultants. The project was based on claims documents from five different customers. Onsiteteamet reviewed the requirements and analyzed different parts of the solution and decided which pieces were then outsourced to India. The members of the onsite team were exchanged continuously during the project. One of our employees documented the entire process and described what it means to go and drive a bus in Norway, partly with the help of a camera. A document describing the entire context was developed to provide a background for the Indian developers to understand the requirements. Below are examples of what we developed:

  • An almost complete prototype of the bus computer GUI (Prototype developed in Delphi to provide quick feedback and avoid changes in the later solution that would develop in Ansi C)
  • ANSI C development of GUI library that would work both for the Linux based bus computer installed in the buses and for a Windows CE based portable device that would be used for sale and inspection of tickets.
  • ANSI C development of printer library and for saving and reading data from smart cards.
  • ANSI C development of a limited but complete browser to view html files in the buses (for help and instructions)
  • J2EE / Web modules for administration of buses, bus computers, general administration, and administration for communication with buses.
  • J2EE / Web modules for managing events and alarms, including sending out SMS and email to key people automatically when something unpredictable occurred in any of the subsystems.
  • J2EE / Web Modules for Administration and Management of Driver Settlement, Payment and Corrections.
  • J2EE-based communication solution for synchronization with up to thousands of bus computers, portable bus computers and sales outlets per hour.
  • Solutions to define, maintain products, fees, routes, etc.
  • reports

Gislen Software delivered a total of more than 55 thousand hours. According to NASSCOM’s official statistics, it meant that we accounted for about 5% of India’s total IT exports to Norway in 2005.

Development process

Kraven var givna när Gislen Software kom med i projektet, och Gislen Software var med genom alla delar av designprocessen. En förenklad Unified Process har använts med Use Case Analys, där s.k. ’Fully Dressed Use Cases’ användes för att exakt förklara arbetsflödet i de olika lösningarna. En Windows-desktopbaserad prototyp utvecklades av Gislen Software i Delphi för att visa kunderna bussdatorns användargränssnitt. Detta skedde för att man i förväg kunna visa, hur bussdatorn skulle fungera i de olika miljöerna (fast och portabel), utan att man skulle behöva lägga dyra utvecklingskostnader på en ANSI C-utveckling, innan kundernas förväntningar var fullständigt kartlagda. Eftersom tiden för utveckling av denna prototyp var mycket begränsad, använde vi tidsskillnaderna och hade utvecklare i Indien och Norge, som jobbade dygnet runt under några dagar.

Slutsatser

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Gislen Software kunde tillhandahålla resurser med kort varsel för att utveckla olika delar av projektet. I en gemensam insats tillsammans med Q-Free/Faras egna personal och norska konsulter lyckades Gislen Software med givna tidsfrister utveckla all programvara för biljettsystemet, som stödde samtliga fem kunders krav. Genom kombination av onsite- och offsite-utveckling, utvecklingsprocess, erfarna seniorutvecklare och skandinavisk och indisk personal lyckades man med ett projekt som sannolikt är ett av de största IT utvecklingsprojekt, som då gjorts i Norge med hjälp av outsourcing.

Fara introducerades på den norska börsen den 1 januari 2006, och första leveransen till Rogalands fylke skedde under januari 2006.

The lessons from the project are that major outsourcing projects should be handled best by combining onsite and offsit work, and also with local and Indian professional developers in close collaboration. This development model provides good profitability and better control for the customer. As the feedback occurs all the time, it also reduces the risk of major deviations.