Tightly Integrating with a Client to Create a High-Quality, Web Front-End

Vermont Mutual

 

Vermont Mutual is one of the oldest mutual property and casualty insurers in the United States. The company is known for its security, reliability, and excellent customer service for end-users and insurance brokers alike.

 

Vermont Landscape

The Challenge

Vermont Mutual needed to rebuild its property and casualty insurance quote application system. The company wanted to switch from an off-the-shelf to a customized full-stack solution, which would afford them more control and offer a better user experience for their insurance brokers.

Vermont Mutual already had the needed back-end tech in place, but it needed to create a front-end that would streamline its work and offer the quality of experience that insurance brokers had come to expect from competitors.

The Vermont Mutual team knew it wanted to use Javascript for its front-end but was unsure of which framework to use. The team sought a development firm that could partner with its internal software team to assist in both selecting the right framework and developing the Javascript front-end for the new quote system.

In addition to Javascript expertise, Vermont Mutual sought a partner with strong capabilities in agile development and collaboration, since the new front-end would need to integrate with existing Vermont Mutual web services, transactional databases, and other third-party services built by the company's web service and database developers.

People Working on Insurance
New England Neighborhood

The Solution

Vermont Mutual  partnered with Gnar to build its front-end system. When the project commenced, the company was unsure which JavaScript framework to use, and the team was leaning toward building in Angular.

Through our discovery process, we evaluated and presented the three most popular JavaScript front-end frameworks: React, Vue, and Angular. We compared the frameworks in terms of complexity or ease to learn, as well as popularity using data such as number of job postings, downloads, and developers’ opinions.

While we noted that all three options could technically handle the requirements, we ultimately recommended using React. Building in React meant a faster implementation, a stronger development network, and an easier ability to recruit and retain developers.

To build the app, our team has collaborated closely with Vermont Mutual’s engineers and serves as the lead React engineering team.

Vermont Capitol Building

Integrating with The Vermont Mutual Team

We worked closely with Vermont Mutual to ensure our engineer would integrate as seamlessly and effectively as possible with the rest of the engineering team. The company assigned a designated product manager as the main point of contact for our engineer, which made onboarding much easier. This product manager had intimate knowledge of the existing team’s processes and personalities, and he was a strong advocate for change across the organization. His guidance helped get our engineer up-to-speed, and his openness to innovation allowed him to enlist our engineer to help reform the company’s development process in a more agile direction as Vermont Mutual adopted a new technology. 

Before our engineer began work, Vermont Mutual did an excellent job defining his role within the team and giving him clear marching orders once work commenced. The Vermont Mutual engineering team had spent time designing the new experience and creating detailed user flows and screen designs for the new applications. That prep work gave our engineer the blueprint he needed to hit the ground running from day one. 

It was important to us to ensure that we were meeting expectations over the duration of the project, and for that reason we worked with Vermont Mutual to implement regular feedback sessions right away. Our engineer and Vermont Mutual’s project manager had weekly one-on-one meetings, and our Head of Client Service had monthly meetings to track progress and receive and provide feedback. 

The result was a collaboration that felt like a true partnership, and which had positive benefits that extended beyond the creation of the app’s front-end. In addition to bringing the React technical experience the company needed, we also brought agile process experience they could leverage across other projects. Vermont Mutual understood the advantage of working with an experienced team that has a broad outside perspective from working with multiple companies, industries, and technologies. When working with The Gnar, clients like Vermont Mutual benefit not only from the engineer working on their specific project, but also from the learnings of our entire collaborative and communicative engineering team, which collectively tackles dozens of projects at any given time. Our breadth of experience and strong relationship with Vermont Mutual has allowed us to provide additional consultation on the company’s strategic technical decisions.

"They never fail to deliver. They’ve provided a high-caliber resource, and I’m really happy with how we work together…they’ve been able to integrate with our team. We don’t view them as a third-party at all."

 

-James Wong | CEO Technology Project Manager, Vermont Mutual

New England Home

The Results

As a result of our partnership, Vermont Mutual will be able to offer insurance agents a user-friendly, web-based insurance quote application. In addition, our close collaboration with the company has helped the team internally implement an agile software development process. We’ve been able to re-engineer Vermont Mutual’s dev process to be more adaptive and efficient across the organization. That not only allows the company to generate higher-quality results more quickly for this particular project –it also positions them to continue to succeed in their software development goals, even once our contract has completed.

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