Self-service business portal for itsme®
How do we prepare itsme® for the European market?
How can itsme® rapidly and effectively scale its services in the European market? This was the strategic question the developer of the renowned identity app asked us in 2020. In response, we outlined the guidelines for a European growth strategy and determined the necessary tools for the company to swiftly establish a notable position in the European market.
One of the biggest challenges was the onboarding of new customers. Until recently, this was predominantly a manual process. In line with the European growth ambitions of the company, a fitting, scalable solution became imperative.
One of the biggest challenges that emerged during this process was the onboarding of new customers. Integrating itsme® is a technically complex task. The right expertise in development, IT, privacy, and security is required to successfully integrate itsme® with, for example, a banking app, an insurance platform, or a public digital service. Until recently, this was predominantly a manual process, which proved to be labor and time-intensive for both the customer and itsme®'s onboarding team, resulting in a high workload. In line with the European growth ambitions of the company, a fitting, scalable solution became imperative.
A self-service platform for smooth implementation
As a solution, we proposed a business portal: a self-service platform that allows new and existing customers to quickly and easily integrate itsme® within their own applications. Potential partners can independently set up a test environment (sandbox) or create test accounts. This significantly relieves the onboarding and support teams at itsme®, who can now take on a more advisory role rather than an administrative support role. Additionally, itsme® can considerably shorten the sales lifecycle for business customers and onboard more partners.
The self-service business portal significantly relieves the onboarding and support teams at itsme®. Additionally, itsme® can considerably shorten the sales lifecycle for business customers and onboard more partners.
Defining guidelines and strategic principles
Our business strategists first validated the impact on the organization and growth of a central portal for all stakeholders. Subsequently, they created the business case, which served as the starting point for the initial guidelines of the concept. We then linked a set of strategic principles to this concept. The principles were designed to ensure that all decisions regarding the concept were consistently aligned with the predetermined strategic business objectives.
With the creation of the business portal, we focused on three different dimensions:
Business alignment: Utilizing the portal as a strategic differentiator and accelerator to boost the sales of core products.
Operational maturity: Aligning all internal departments to scale up the onboarding and integration of new customers, allowing itsme® to achieve its European ambitions.
Developer experience: Ensuring that those responsible for implementing itsme® have all the necessary tools and support to do so efficiently and effectively.
This approach ensures that the business portal always contributes to itsme®'s key business objectives. The business portal primarily serves as an interface enabling efficient collaboration among all stakeholders within itsme®'s ecosystem (onboarding team, developers, tech architects, business analysts, integrators, development agencies, etc.). The UX design team translated these requirements into a clear concept. This concept allowed us to validate assumptions with internal stakeholders (customer success, onboarding, sales, marketing, etc.) and customers for the first time. Additionally, the concept formed the basis for the initial product backlog, listing and prioritizing all possible features and functionalities of the portal.
Blended product team of digital experts
Based on the initial product backlog, the team determined the priorities, and we could start with the development and implementation of the platform. Opting for a blended product team consisting of experts from Craftzing and itsme® proved to be the best choice to successfully complete the project. UX and concept designers, a UI designer, a product owner, as well as front-end and back-end developers from both organizations worked side by side within the same product team.
We developed the portal through an agile approach. This allowed us to adjust the roadmap whenever necessary. The result: a laser-sharp focus on the features that create the most value for itsme® as well as the end customers in the initial phase.
The team iteratively developed the portal through an agile approach. In two-week sprints, we continuously assessed and validated incrementally built versions of the platform with stakeholders. This allowed us to adjust the roadmap whenever necessary. The result: a laser-sharp focus on the features that create the most value for itsme® as well as the end customers in the initial phase.
Future-proof and scalable architecture
As the portal had to be future-proof, easily scalable, and highly secure, we opted for a microservice architecture during the technical development phase. Therefore, we broadly divided the platform into two components:
A “back-end for front-end” (BFF) server, responsible for linking and integrating the various underlying internal itsme®-APIs. Additionally, this server serves as the database for the front-end server.
A front-end (FE) application, the interface presented to the end user.
The back-end for front-end server utilizes the Laravel framework, a familiar and robust PHP framework known for its suitability in building scalable and secure applications. Data communication with the front-end occurs via GraphQL, a future-proof method for communication with modern front-end frameworks.
For the front-end application, we chose the Remix React framework, as it closely aligned with the portal's requirements in terms of out-of-the-box features and scalability. This framework is also developer-friendly and follows an accessibility-first philosophy, which we strongly believe in.
The development team built the portal using a component-based approach, creating custom React components. This means that all buttons, forms, and typography were built with scalability and quick reusability in mind. With this plug & play system, new pages, features, or modules can be developed rapidly. Everything was neatly organized within Storybook, allowing itsme® to easily reuse components within other applications.
Finally, this setup is hosted on itsme®'s Azure DevOps environment, giving their infrastructure team full control. Automated workflows and CI/CD pipelines ensure that new versions of the portal can be quickly and automatically deployed to production. This way, we can respond even more rapidly to changes and improvements.
The business portal rapidly gained traction and fundamentally transformed the way the Customer Care Team interacts with customers, providing them with autonomy and efficiency. We can now focus on the relationship, rather than on the process.
During the phased roll-out, our main focus is to guide the first customers through the onboarding process and incorporate their feedback into the product backlog and future roadmap. This allows us to continuously expand the portal over the coming years with useful and valuable features, in close collaboration with itsme®. The initial feedback has been positive so far.