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Case study

Internal tech due diligence of a food delivery platform

As a part of internal tech due diligence, Unicornly assessed a SaaS food delivery platform. The goal of this process was to understand what was causing issues with the development of new features and to map limitations caused by the multitude of vendors.

Background

Unicornly performed tech due diligence for a French food delivery platform. The company was keen on performing an internal audit of their SaaS platform, which was based on various third-party services and systems from many separate vendors.

This multitude of vendors caused significant problems: not only maintenance of the SaaS platform, but also adding new features to develop the solution. Since Unicornly had already been working with one of the company’s shareholders for 5 years, we were recommended to perform the audit.

Assessment

The goal of the tech due diligence was to understand what was causing problems with the development and maintenance of the platform and to suggest the next steps that should be taken to deliver new features quickly. Bearing in mind the fact that the company had serious development plans for the food delivery platform, they wanted to get rid of obstacles first. Different parts of the system had been delivered by separate vendors, which made its maintenance complicated and time consuming, not to mention that adding new features was almost impossible as third parties were not willing or able to cooperate.

The assessment took Unicornly 2 weeks and was performed remotely. The team consisted of a senior consultant and a tech lead. The work started with a general kick-off workshop focused on discovering the goals of the audit and understanding the basic business context. 

After the workshop, the team started identifying all the components of the SaaS platform and the vendors that delivered them. In order to do this, we performed a series of Q&A sessions with the CEO and the product owner; we also scheduled a walkthrough of the software, code and infrastructure. On top of that, we also assessed the technology stack and the platform’s UI/UX.

Base on the information gathered, we created a detailed architecture chart of the system that precisely explained how the system worked and the components of which it consisted. Subsequently, we approached all the vendors and interviewed them.The main issue identified during the assessment was that the company didn’t have control over the source code of the SaaS platform, because most of it was hosted by external vendors. This made the client dependent on and locked in with vendors, which is always high risk. The second problem was related to the lack of implementation of automated CI/CD processes. Every software update was performed manually, which took a lot of time and was vulnerable to human error. We also noticed that the system was not backed up automatically, had a messy structure, and displayed no clear, consistent logic.

Results

As a result, Unicornly provided the company with a tech due diligence report including the initial findings of the assessment and explanations of their impact on delivery speed and costs, as well as software quality and security. We also suggested action steps that would form the basis of the tech team’s work over the coming months. We also provided an architecture draft that would be helpful to anyone working on the project as it described the relations and dependencies between the platform’s various modules.

On top of that, Unicornly helped to regain access to the platform’s IP by retrieving the source code from vendors and migrating it into one central Git repository that is managed by the client. This was especially challenging since the vendors weren’t very responsive or eager to cooperate. It took special effort to put together the proper versions, build the platform from the new repository, and thoroughly test it before going live. We also implemented automated CI/CD processes that significantly reduced the time required to maintain the codebase and develop new features.

Thanks to the assessment and the direct steps that were subsequently taken, the client regained control over the source code and became independent of the vendors, thus breaking the frustrating vendor lock. We also substantially reduced the time required to fix bugs and add new features to the platform, which are now finally possible to implement. However, the overall development velocity still leaves much to be desired due to a large amount of technical debt.

Unicornly acted as a technical due diligence vendor on a transaction that supported our growth strategy. The team was extremely professional and flagged important issues. I would certainly recommend them to any company that is considering buying a tech-enabled business.

Michael Thain
Tech Director at ZX Ventures

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Unicornly acted as a technical due diligence vendor on a transaction that supported our growth strategy. The team was extremely professional and flagged important issues. I would certainly recommend them to any company that is considering buying a tech-enabled business.

Michael Thain
Tech Director at ZX Ventures

I am impressed with the quality of your work performed by Unicornly. I will for sure to get back to them if I need tech due diligence in the future.

Xavier Marchese
CEO at Dood

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