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Custom Web Application for Nonprofit Baby-Friendly USA

We are so pleased to announce the launch of the new website that we built for the nonprofit Baby-Friendly USA. Baby-Friendly USA is the accrediting body for the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in the United States. Baby Friendly is the national authority that helps hospitals and birth centers conform to international standards of infant care
that support optimal infant nutrition and mother/baby bonding, as well as achieve public health goals set by the U.S. Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services. They had hired Russo Project Management (RPM) to help them devise and execute a capacity building effort. Part of the need identified was for a technology upgrade to streamline the organization’s online technical assistance and accreditation process. They asked Greane Tree Technology to coordinate the upgrade. Baby-Friendly USA knew they needed a new website that would look more professional and be a better platform for training resources. They also knew they needed to improve their internal database to support more efficient data collection. Greane Tree Technology recommended a custom web application, built according to Agile principles. It wasn’t what Baby-Friendly USA or RPM had expected, but they were convinced that we understood their goals and would work with them to find the best solution. As RPM lead Mary Alice Russo said, “Greane Tree was the only company we interviewed that had the vision to give us what we really needed, rather than what we had initially envisioned. Other consultants were willing to provide the solution that we said we wanted, but Greane Tree helped us understand that we really needed much more functionality and helped us find a way to build it.”

The Ideal Agile Product Owner

Baby-Friendly USA’s executive director Trish MacEnroe had been through a custom software development project, and Mary Alice Russo had managed a website upgrade. Neither of them had seen the Agile methodology in action, but they quickly adapted to the shortened feedback cycles and constant communication that typify Agile. They made themselves available for daily standup meetings and weekly Sprint reviews, and they saw how the system was shaped by their input and how their own understanding of their requirements evolved with the system. In order to stay within their budget, they were disciplined about prioritizing the key features that would deliver value to them and to their constituents. Working prototypes were ready in time to demonstrate to key user groups, and the finished application was rolled out on schedule.

A Successful Partnership with the Development Team

The Greane Tree Technology development team chose Ruby on Rails, PostGreSQL, and the Comfortable Mexican Sofa CMS engine to create a custom web application. The application provides Baby-Friendly staff with an easy way to publish content to its website; permits facilities to complete forms online that had previously been burned to CDs and mailed back and forth; saves the data from the forms directly into a searchable database; and furnishes Baby-Friendly with both specific and aggregate information that will help it continuously improve its technical assistance offerings. Because it is standards-based, the application will be easy to maintain and add to, should the need or opportunity arise.

Greane Tree as Scrum Master

In addition to performing the software development, Greane Tree Technology helped Baby-Friendly to prioritize its requirements, track progress, and find outside experts in graphic design and computer security. We trained Baby-Friendly staff in the use of the database and the content management system, and we suggested modifications to the information architecture. Baby-Friendly USA and Russo Project Management were wonderful to work with and we were delighted to build a web application that communicates and facilitates Baby-Friendly USA’s important work.

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