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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 is causing issues with new features development and to map limitations caused by vendor multitude.

Background

Unicornly performed a Tech Due Diligence for a French food delivery platform. The company was keen on performing an internal audit of their SaaS platform, that was based on different third party services and systems coming from many separate vendors.

This vendor multitude caused significant troubles not only with maintenance of the SaaS platform, but also with adding new features to develop the solution. Since Unicornly was working with one of the company shareholders for 5 years already, we were recommended to perform the audit.

Assessment

The goal of the Tech Due Diligence was to understand what is causing problems with platform development and maintenance and to suggest next steps needed to deliver new features fast. Bearing in mind the fact that the company had serious development plans for the food delivery platform, they wanted to get rid of obstacles on the way first. Different parts of the system were delivered by separate vendors, what made its maintenance complicated and time consuming. Not to mention that adding new features was almost impossible, with third parties not willing or being 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 goals of the audit and understanding basic business context. 

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

Basing on the information gathered, we created a detailed architecture chart of the system, that was explaining how the system works precisely and what components it consists of. Afterwards, we approached all the vendors and interviewed them.

The main issue identified during the assessment was that the company didn’t have control over of the source code of the SaaS platform, as most of it was hosted by external vendors. This made the client dependent on vendors and locked with them, what is always a high risk. The second problem was related to the lack of implementation of automated CI/CD processes. Every software update was performed manually, what 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 no clear, consistent logic.

Results

As a result, Unicornly provided the company with a Tech Due Diligence report including initial findings of the assessment and explaining their impact on delivery speed and costs, as well as software quality and security. We also presented a suggestion of action steps, forming the base of work and the backlog for the tech team over the coming months. We also provided an architecture draft that is helpful to anyone working on the project, helping to understand relations and dependencies between different modules of the platform.

On top of that, Unicornly helped to regain access to platform’s IP by retrieving the source code from vendors and migrating it into one central Git repository, that is managed by the client. That was especially challenging, since the vendors weren’t very responsive, nor eager to cooperate. It took special effort to put together proper versions, build the platform from new repository and thoroughly test the it before going live. We also implemented an automated CI/CD processes that significantly reduced time necessary to maintain the codebase and develop new features.

Thanks to the assessment and direct steps took afterwards, the client regained control over the source code and became independent from vendors, seizing 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 supporting 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 supporting 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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