Back in February of 2016, we were introduced to Lead4Change by Patrick Foster of USA Today. At the time, they were in a crisis: They had spent a significant amount of time and resources building a contest management system for their leadership program, but it was failing at crunch time. Teachers were unable to submit their entries, entries that were submitted were missing data, and more. Their current developers were struggling to fix the problems and growing less responsive.
They needed us to review their system and try to patch the immediate and most pernicious bugs. We contracted for 10 hours to audit the existing system. What we found was not pretty: messy code, security vulnerabilities, and a system so unstructured that solving simple bugs was inordinately difficult. We soberly reported that the current system was not worth salvaging.
A NEW SYSTEM
In May 2016 we started building their new system. We leveraged their existing designs, while building a completely new theme and backend system to manage their contest entries. We strove to make their new system modular and robust so that small data issues would not cause big problems system wide. This meant consolidating how customer data was stored, developing flexible systems for handling data and data states, as well as building flexibility for future changes.