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A Journey of Discovery With SCAD Software

SCAD Software invited IT journalist, writer and trainer, Robert Schifreen, to meet with their founder, Andy Fensham and International Managing Director Shaun Orpen, to explore the “SCAD Methodology”. It’s fair to say he was surprised by what he learned.

This is the story in his own words.

SCAD Software invited IT journalist, writer and trainer, Robert Schifreen, to meet with their founder, Andy Fensham and International Managing Director Shaun Orpen, to explore the “SCAD Methodology”. It’s fair to say he was surprised by what he learnt. This is his story in his own words.

Despite extensive IT experience and having read through the SCAD Software website and presentations, I still didn’t “get” what SCAD Software really did. Was I being sold a service or a physical product? Is it a framework or a methodology, or an outsourcing service? What has metadata got to do with it? Is it aimed at corporates or start-ups? Why would I want to reengineer a complex application which is working just fine, purely to reduce the number of lines of code?

There was clearly an “Aha! Moment” in there somewhere, but I couldn’t see it. Having spoken with Andy and Shaun, everything began to make sense. So, let me try and explain in my own words what SCAD Software is, and the main USP, and the sort of company that might want to consider using it.

SCAD Software: The USP

Over time, business applications become more and more critical to the ongoing success of a company. New features are continually added, as a result of product enhancements or regulatory changes.

While the underlying database might be robust, the methods through which customers and staff interact with it become ever more complicated. The applications also become harder to manage and maintain.

In the financial services industry for example, it is not uncommon for a key application to comprise hundreds of database tables, thousands of data entry screens and views, and a million lines of code. Crucially, making even a minor change to the system is time-consuming and prone to errors, often requiring weeks of development and testing. If a new field or column is added to the customer database, every part of the application which references that new field needs to be updated. This could be thousands of separate screens, views and reports.

Similarly, if a change in audit or compliance regulations means that employees below a certain level must not be given write privileges on a particular database field, this commonly requires thousands of changes to the core application across hundreds of separate files to ensure that the new directive is applied across every screen.

If the application is launched into a new territory in which a different language is spoken, all of those thousands of files that make up the screen and view definitions need to be duplicated, with just the textual content altered. Thus, instantly doubling the number of lines of code that now need to be maintained.

SCAD Software changes all this. They re-engineer your application to drastically reduce the amount of source code, typically by at least 40%. Then they host and fully manage it for you on your preferred cloud provider’s infrastructure. Your developers and DBAs are freed up to spend their time improving and innovating for your business and your customers, instead of being involved in unending code maintenance.

The Proprietary Metadata-Based Methodology

The key to SCAD’s re-engineering process and drastic source code reduction is their proprietary metadata-based methodology.

Metadata is added to the database alongside existing fields/columns. This defines how a field is to be displayed on a screen, who is permitted to see it, whether they can also edit it, and so on.

Remember those thousands of data entries and editing screens, comprising tens of thousands of lines of code?

They’re all redundant. Screens are now built dynamically on the fly, in a browser or a progressive web app, based on the information contained in the metadata.

You can even interact with the application via its built-in REST API, to provide interoperability with other new or legacy systems.

An endpoint for each screen is created automatically and consistently with no additional development work required, and these can be called from anywhere via any programming language. All major authentication methods are supported.

Making a minor change to the application, such as adding a new field to a customer record or changing the permission level required to edit it, requires nothing more than a change to the metadata that can be done in minutes.

All the screens will then incorporate the change automatically. No source code changes are required.

And because the application is fully managed by SCAD, you simply need to request the change via the correct channels and it will be implemented. Initially on your development or UAT environment. When you’re happy with it, sign it off and it goes live instantly. If there’s a problem you can roll back just as quickly.

When you launch your system in a new territory, create a new supplementary set of metadata that contains just the lines of text in the new language. These will override the text from the original version but everything else stays the same. No duplication of screen or view definitions is required.

Your new system is always fully documented, because the metadata IS the documentation.

  • No longer will there be anomalies between what your outdated documentation says should happen in theory and what actually occurs in practice.
  • No longer will missing system documentation be a problem, because you can simply look at the metadata to learn exactly how a particular feature will behave.
  • And by using a report generator you can extract that metadata and create documentation in any format that you like, which is guaranteed to be accurate. If the metadata specifies that only staff in Marketing can change a customer’s email preferences, the documentation will say that too, and the code is guaranteed to behave precisely that way every time, across every screen.

Proven In Practice

SCAD has extensive experience with customers in markets such as banking and finance, CRM, insurance, manufacturing and distribution. The SCAD method is also ideal for startups who are building an MVP. It’s incredibly quick to create a proof-of-concept application which can quickly and easily be revised in response to user testing and feedback. Just change the metadata, not the code.

Working with the team at SCAD to build new applications, or port existing ones, to the metadata methodology is incredibly quick. In one case study, a major financial institution built a system for managing and approving billions of dollars in loans. After a comprehensive exercise to capture requirements the system was built, tested, and rolled out to 1,000 branches, in just 3 months, saving an estimated $20m compared to doing things “the old way”.

Of course there’s more to a complex business system than the database and the screens. Behind it all is the business logic which governs the content of those screens and views. Whether the loan being applied for has been approved, for example. Or whether the order should be marked as having been fulfilled. Where the existing logic is implemented using modern best-practices such as stored procedures, the SCAD team will re-engineer it, incorporate all necessary metadata, and build the same functionality into the newly designed low-code system. Where the business logic is not so accessible, such as when it’s contained in conventional source code, SCAD will normally leave it in-situ and call it directly from the new metadata-based system in order to display the necessary screens and views. Over time, and once the new system is up and running, this legacy business logic can then be refactored and modernised and gradually brought into the new application.

In Summary

The team at SCAD make it easy for large, complex legacy systems to be transformed into modern, agile applications with a vastly reduced codebase, allowing expensive resources such as on-premises servers as well as DBAs and developers to be freed up. In addition, when systems need to be rewritten in a new programming language, such as to take advantage of new best practices or to migrate away from free open-source languages that have become proprietary and expensive, SCAD can get the job done quickly.

About Robert Schifreen

Robert Schifreen is a writer, trainer and commentator on IT and software security. Until recently he was engaged in the IT department at the University of Brighton, latterly as a SharePoint farm administrator, where he architected, built and maintained a system with 5,000 daily users across 14 servers. He is author of the book “Defeating the Hacker – A Non-Technical Guide To IT Security” and was editor of the UK magazine for software developers, .EXE Magazine, and Software Management magazine for software managers.

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Dawie Martins

Head of Client Success and Product Management

With an illustrious career spanning three decades, Dawie Martins has cultivated expertise in diverse technology-related businesses across various sectors, including Retail, Hospitality, and Consultancy. His journey, which has taken him from a developer's role to Product Management, uniquely positions Dawie to lead the charge in Customer Success and Product Management services for our clients. 

In his role as Head of Customer Success, Dawie operates at the intersection of commerce and technology. His mission is to ensure the seamless translation of commercial imperatives into highly effective software applications that not only meet but exceed the outcomes specified by our clients. 

For clients engaging SCAD Software to build applications destined for the market, Dawie and his team offer Fractional Product Management Services. They become invaluable partners in crafting and maintaining a product roadmap, assuming the mantle of the product champion within the client organization. This collaborative approach ensures that our clients' visions are realized efficiently and effectively. 

Dawie's wealth of experience and his dedication to driving success for our clients make him an indispensable part of SCAD Software's commitment to delivering excellence in every project we undertake. 

Shawn De Wet

Chief Technology Officer

Shawn De Wet brings to SCAD Software over two decades of unparalleled expertise in software systems delivery. His career exemplifies a relentless pursuit of problem-solving excellence and a commitment to end-user satisfaction, achieved through meticulous system architecture and design. Proficient in core enterprise ERP systems, Shaun's recent achievements stand as a testament to his prowess, including the conception and successful launch of two cutting-edge SaaS products on the robust Azure platform. 

While Shawn's professional accolades are impressive, his vitality extends beyond the confines of the office. An ardent lover of the outdoors, as evidenced by his passion for mountain biking, Shawn's dynamic and adventurous spirit infuses our technological endeavors with a fresh perspective and boundless energy. 

At SCAD Software, Shawn leads the charge in Operational Delivery of Client solutions. He heads the development team and works closely with our valued clients to ensure they realize their desired outcomes from our technology solutions. His commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction is a driving force behind our success. 

Andy Fensham

Founder, Chief Architect

Andy Fensham's journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to reshape the software development landscape. With a background in global banking software consultancy, he founded SCAD Software in 1998 with a visionary goal – to address the mounting technical debt that was becoming a liability for businesses worldwide. 

Andy's unique blend of technical expertise and business acumen empowers our clients with pragmatic, robust software solutions that yield tangible results. Recognizing the risks posed by outdated software, he pioneered an innovative approach to custom software development, consistently delivering large-scale projects at an astonishing pace – 75% faster than traditional methods. 

Andy's dedication not only safeguards our clients' future but also cements SCAD Software's position as an industry trailblazer. He continues to lead our innovation roadmap, constantly seeking new ways to enhance our offerings with more examples of how we can turn “minutes to seconds”. 

Shaun Orpen

Group CEO

With an impressive career spanning over three decades in the Technology and Telecoms sectors, Shaun Orpen brings a wealth of experience to his role as Group CEO. His journey began with the groundbreaking entry of Microsoft Excel into the UK market, a stepping stone that eventually led him to play pivotal roles on the UK Executive Board during Microsoft's meteoric rise from £10 million to £1 billion in revenue. 

During his tenure at Orange, Shaun spearheaded the division responsible for catering to Small and Medium Businesses in the UK. Since then, he has continued to shape the success of a number of small and global technology enterprises, leveraging his strategic acumen and commercial leadership. 

Shaun's unwavering commitment to the convergence of technology and business is evident in his track record of elevating every organization he's been a part of. As the driving force behind SCAD Software's commercial endeavors, Shaun is leading our expansion across the UK, Europe, and the USA. 

His steadfast ethical stance, mirrored by his partner Andy Fensham, forms the bedrock of SCAD Software's principles, defining our approach to client interactions and business dealings. 

Stephen Moore

Chairman

Stephen Moore's illustrious career speaks volumes about his leadership capabilities. With a rich background spanning diverse industries such as Retail, Events, Technology, Telecoms, and Media, he has consistently demonstrated his ability to craft and execute growth, differentiation, and exit strategies in highly competitive markets. 

As the visionary Founder/CEO of multiple successful ventures, Stephen has guided five companies from their inception to remarkable exits and IPOs, including the noteworthy £117 million listing of Expocentric Plc on Techmark 2000. His track record extends beyond entrepreneurship; he has played a pivotal role in over 40 companies as a Non-Executive Director, Chairman, Consultant, and Advisor, raising more than £85 million in private and public markets. 

What sets Stephen apart is his global perspective, cultivated through extensive work in the UAE, US, Singapore, Hong Kong, and EMEA. This international experience enriches SCAD Software's strategic direction, making him an invaluable asset in our mission to navigate the complex landscape of digital transformation and empower our clients to achieve enduring success.