Centralized Dashboard Application with Real-Time Data & Rich Visualizations

Executive Summary

Noodle Partners is an industry leading Online Program Manager (OPM) that helps schools build world-class online and hybrid programs, saving universities tens of thousands of dollars per student. They provide universities with improved control and less risk at a lower cost. They also work collaboratively with universities to assist in transforming campus-based programs into their online experience. Noodle Partners prides themselves on their cost, flexibility, and transparency – providing an integrated OPM solution that works for everyone.

No central data warehouse exists at many universities to provide information required by teachers, administrators, sales representatives, and executives. Noodle Partners set out to create a minimum viable product (MVP) for their new platform, partnering with JBS under a hybrid workforce model. Following agile software development practices and a cloud-first approach, using AWS as the cloud provider, the team successfully completed the MVP on schedule. As a direct result of the team’s success, Noodle Partners continued working with JBS and moved forward with refining their MVP into a fully realized analytics platform.

Challenges

Noodle Partners strives to re-invent online education and has been extremely effective at competing with other OPMs by identifying deficiencies of traditional methodologies. They distinguish themselves from their competition by aligning with customer interests and by hiring experts in the field who have worked for OPMs, universities, and in education. This wealth of experience allows them to understand many of the challenges that universities face.

One pressing challenge in the education sector is a lack of availability and accessibility of marketing and learning data. For most universities, there is not a standalone platform where different users can access the data that they need. Each system within a university’s ecosystem contains only some of the data that any individual employee requires. An employee of the university commonly needs to access multiple systems in order to perform their duties.

How JBS helped

Noodle Partners envisioned a solution to this data challenge – a central dashboard where all teachers, administrators, sales representatives, and executives could go to access all the real-time data they need, anytime. Existing learning analytics and marketing data for online courses could be collected and made available in a single, streamlined application. This data would allow universities to identify ways to trim their budget and enable them to identify patterns in engagement data to pursue better student outcomes and increased student engagement.

Noodle Partners decided to invest in developing a minimum viable product (MVP). This served as a production quality proof-of-concept, allowing business users and stakeholders to make decisions about the viability of the new platform. The development requirements of the MVP were ambitious – requiring more resources than were available at the time. Noodle Partners chose to partner with JBS and work collaboratively in a hybrid-team model. This hybrid development team worked together to deliver a front-end and back-end product that aligned with Noodle Partners long-term plan of a true data warehouse.

One of the key factors that allowed JBS to work with such high efficiency and velocity was the decision to use as many AWS managed services as possible for the MVP implementation. The web application portion was hosted as an Elastic Beanstalk application which automatically handled any necessary scaling, performance, and fault-tolerance related issues. AWS DynamoDB and RDS services were used to handle the many different data needs that the application had. Another key piece was the use of AWS Data Pipeline; the fully managed ETL service allowed JBS to easily create data ingestion pipelines and ETL processes to collect and consolidate all the data to populate the various dashboards that were created. Finally, AWS CloudFormation was used to automate the creation and management of the various hosting environments used throughout the project (development, testing, QA, production, etc.). All these services are fully managed, allowing the team to focus on the core business logic instead of operational tasks and activities.

Results

Noodle Partners and JBS teams collaborated successfully to deliver a working MVP within the allotted three-month timeframe. The hybrid team followed an agile software development and cloud-first methodology, delivering results quickly and reducing the feedback loop between business and development resources. By delivering early and often, the team was always on-track and aligned with expectations. The hybrid-team model utilized by Noodle Partners and JBS was so seamless and successful that Noodle Partners continues to work with JBS to this day.

As a result of the hybrid team’s efforts, Noodle Partners had successfully developed a new dashboard application with rich visualizations. This new product simplified the communication and accessibility of complex data. It streamlined and automated data acquisition from disparate sources and made future scaling much less time intensive. JBS was able to provide high-quality, experienced talent that meshed seamlessly in a hybrid-team structure and provided Noodle Partners with the bandwidth required to achieve their goals.