CASE STUDY
FSG
VERTICALS
Proptech
SERVICES
Product Strategy
Product Management
Product Development

When Opportunity Knocks,
Answer with the Right Development Team

FSG won a dream client — but that meant evolving to meet their next-level facilities management needs, fast. To push its bar-setting remote systems management platform forward, FSG needed a custom software development partner to operate in parallel, deliver impeccable quality, and make everyone proud.

Client

Texas-based Facilities Solutions Group (FSG) is an industry leader in providing smart equipment and management for commercial facilities — think HVAC to lighting, refrigeration to security — with 10,000+ facilities under management. National brands like Apple, Circle K, Walgreens, and Home Depot trust FSG to make managing these critical systems as easy and efficient as possible.

As the leading remote facility management solution provider for Fortune 1000 companies, FSG needed a team that met our rigorous standards for design, documentation, and process reliability to take over certain components of our roadmap, then define, develop, and integrate them into our tech stack — all while maintaining the level of quality we expect from our internal engineers.

Justin McCullough, Chief Product Officer, FSG

Challenge

FSG won the opportunity to serve Apple’s systems management needs at a 500,000 square foot facility. But to meet the new contract’s requirements, FSG needed to speed ahead with the digital twin functionality on their platform roadmap. FSG needed to let facility administrators:

  • Visualize where each system, sensor, or piece of equipment physically exists in the facility
  • Manage all systems from a centralized location including real-time issue or outage identification
  • Guide personnel to the precise equipment in need of maintenance and verify service completion

FSG’s in-house development team was already swamped. But FSG knew that digital twin features would not only secure the opportunity with Apple — they would be invaluable in serving clients like Walgreens, Home Depot, Circle K, and more into the future.

To launch new functionality in time to satisfy Apple, FSG needed more hands. Though FSG is extremely selective, the third party development partner they had onboard delivered nothing but delays and budget overruns. FSG was left with a dwindling budget and a rapidly approaching deadline. That’s when FSG asked Altus Nova to step in.

Discovery

With just three months to launch critical features for Apple, Altus Nova’s meticulous yet efficient process paved the way to success within the remaining time and the remaining budget.

First, we probed deeply into FSG’s IoT capabilities, control system platform, and Apple’s requirements. At the same time, we looked for ways to productize new features for use in serving other FSG clients. What we found was an extreme need for scalability and performance across:

  • Tens of thousands of facilities operated by FSG clients
  • Hundreds to thousands of IoT-enabled devices per location
  • Billions of IoT data points broadcast every hour

Added to this, we needed to consider dozens of device types, differing standards, and the need for easy mobile access to detailed schematics, data, and logs across a variety of update, repair, and replace schedules.

With all the details uncovered, we quickly mapped critical permissions and limitations for distinct roles from administrators to verifiers and service providers. Finally, we prioritized must-haves vs nice-to-haves to define an MVP that would satisfy the Apple contract.

Having gained alignment around a plan that would put critical functionality in place by the deadline, our fast-follow strategy would let us build upon solid MVP foundations to fully realize FSG’s bar-setting new features.

Solution

Altus Nova proposed a digital twin solution that integrated FSG’s IoT infrastructure with facility blueprints to empower everyone from facility administrators down to repair personnel.

All facility floor plans could be dynamically uploaded by facility administrators, with easy navigation to any facility from a map-based interface. Each aspect of equipment to be managed could be loaded from FSG’s asset management system to make finding any system, sensor, or device as easy as following a map.

As well, rich data feeds from these smart systems were dynamically connected to show operational characteristics and status right on the floor plan.

Carefully defined access rights would allow only authorized personnel to access any given facility or system within the facility. And while each piece of equipment entailed different operational attributes, we ensured that dynamic, meta-driven data would be presented to users in a consistently usable way.

Process

The key to moving quickly is to deeply understand the pieces and parts available to create integrated solutions. Altus Nova’s deep dive into FSG’s infrastructure allowed us to understand the technology, the Google Cloud Platform environment, and the rigorous coding and design standards FSG’s internal team used.

We employed a component-oriented approach to isolate new features we developed from existing platform capabilities, including seamlessly bridging Angular-based technologies with React-based technologies.

Altus Nova seamlessly integrated our team into the FSGT team’s daily stand-ups to provide real-time updates. Rapidly establishing and then refining new floorplan features allowed us to prioritize efforts with time-efficient feedback from the FSG team.

Documenting all requirements, UI/UX design elements, technical designs, and code would allow the FSG team to easily take the solution in-house upon delivery.

Method

The key to success for FSG lay not only in technical excellence but in quality communications and time management. The Altus Nova team quickly built relationships with FSG’s in-house developers by providing transparency and effectively protecting FSG developers’ time.

We took care to create an extremely usable and secure solution to empower facility administrators working across multiple, complex facilities. Deeply engaging with administrator needs, we prioritized features like drag-and-drop mapping and the ability to save and reuse management jobs.

At the same time, we created digital twin floorplan features using responsive design deployed as a Progressive Web Application (PWA). The PWA works on mobile devices, allowing service personnel in the field to locate assets on a variety of devices from mobile phones to tablets.

Experience

Facility administrators are humans who need usability just as badly as any other user. The solution Altus Nova developed allowed facility administrators to easily upload blueprints for each floor of a facility, then simply drag and drop building assets to the appropriate locations for each floor.

Not only could administrators manage thousands of devices in a single mass update, each “job” can be defined, stored, scheduled, and re-used as needed.

Administrators can check the status of any system at any time, and share enhanced floor plans with technicians to facilitate efficient repair.

Repair technicians can instantly verify that they’ve found the right equipment by scanning a QR code on the machine. No more wasted repair visits where a technician couldn’t even find the device to be fixed.

Performance

Altus Nova’s impeccable quality and rigorous focus on documentation allowed FSG’s in-house development team to take over the care and feeding of new digital twin features without lag-time.

FSG was not only able to secure the opportunity with Apple, but was also able to provide platform upgrades to their roster of enterprise clients. The centralized management and visualization capabilities Altus Nova developed have made FSG’s facility management platform more competitive.

Today, FSG can show prospective clients how easy it is to manage routine updates, identify outages immediately, efficiently guide on-site personnel, and verify that service has been performed.

With Altus Nova’s help, we were able to efficiently launch two new critical enterprise software modules on our roadmap. More importantly, when the solutions were transitioned to our engineers, the hand-off was seamless.

Justin McCullough, Chief Product Officer, FSG

Design

Technologies

Design
  • Figma
  • Adobe XD
Front End
  • PWA built on Angular and React (custom Angular / React bridge created by AltusNova)
  • Material Design
  • MapBox
  • Nx Monorepo
  • NgRx
  • Component Store
  • OnPush / react hooks
  • Angular Material / Material UI
  • Tailwind (alternative)
  • Eslint with custom rules (Airbnb + nx + Angular + React + prettier)
  • Commitlint
  • Stylelint
  • RxJS
  • Lodash
  • TypeScript, unit and e2e testing using cypress and jest, husky, SSR and service workers
Back End
  • RESTful microservices centric GCP solution using .NET core
  • Kafka
  • Elastic Search
  • GCP Cloud Data Fusion, dataflow & dataproc
  • PostgreSQL
  • BigQuery
Integrations
  • Buggy
  • Niagara
  • Ecobee, and BAS devices plus existing FSG “Chariot” framework
Deployment, Monitoring + Alerting, Live Ops

FSG operations

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