SaaS-based VMS Solution ensures student safety across 15,000 K-12 schools in the US

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The VMS application that Trigent built was convenient and information-rich. The team was organized and dedicated throughout the project.

About the client

The organization pioneered the digital student safety movement in 2012 and continues to innovate by offering end-to-end student safety and mobile device management solutions for K-12. The organization’s cloud-based SaaS products work to improve student safety, wellness, and engagement by providing a holistic and unified platform engaging teachers, students, and parents. Headquartered in California, the organization’s cutting-edge technologies, combined with 24/7 support from trained safety experts, cater to more than 15,000 schools across the US.

Business need

According to studies, 80% of educational institutions use manual systems and processes to regulate visitor access to school facilities. The error-prone manual approach compromises the safety and security of the students. The organization recognized the need to empower the school administration with technology and tools that are reliable and assure safety.

With the aim of creating safe learning environments for students, they set out to develop a technology-based solution to assure student security. The solution needed to integrate with other systems, such as the School Management Software (SMS) and external third-party databases, for effective and efficient operations.

Business challenge

The organization opted for a ground-up approach to re-imagine the entire visitor check-in process adopted by schools. With student and staff safety at the center and as a front line of defense, the solution needed to:

  • Manage visitor access privileges of students
  • Identify & authenticate visitor sign-in
  • Leverage facial recognition and digital verification visitors
  • Limit visitor access to authorized areas of the school facilities
  • Provide alerts on suspicious visitors to parents & admin

For the concept to come to fruition, data structures needed to be standardized, and APIs needed to be implemented to share data between several components. Moreover, special focus had to be given in designing the user experience while integrating the various product flows in a single application. The organization sought a team of experts to help them with specific domain knowledge and technical know-how to develop, deploy and integrate the new solution with minimum disruption to their ongoing business initiatives.

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Trigent solution

The organization decided to develop a Visitor Management System (VMS) application from scratch and take a leadership position in the industry. The solution warranted the use of technical and product management competencies such as Market Study & Research, Business Analysis, DevOps, Application Development, Quality Engineering, scalable Cloud infrastructure, and ongoing Operations. This was the primary reason for the organization to select Trigent as its partner.

Trigent’s Product Engineering Framework

The organization partnered with Trigent to leverage its technical expertise, understanding of the Education domain, and pool of skilled resources. The flexible team structure for the project enabled the client to develop a best-in-class VMS application for students & school admins alike. As the project progressed, Trigent’s unique engagement model enabled the organization to scale up critical resources when required and ramp down upon completion in the following stages:

  • Discovery

    .Trigent initiated an intense 2-week requirement-gathering effort. The discovery phase included discussions with key stakeholders within the business and also the end-user community. Surveys and rigorous interviews with the end users helped document the business flow. Extensive market research of competing products in the market and their features were conducted that helped the organization identify existing gaps and design a solution that would address the current lacuna and also new features which the end users demanded. The discovery phase was led by a Product Manager from Trigent along with the CEO of the organization to ensure a well-rounded assessment of the business requirements.

  • Design

    .With the insights gathered from the discovery phase, Trigent designed and developed an MVP of the VMS application within just 5 months. The solution architect designed the application using microservices, containerized, and cloud-native architecture for scale and reliability.

    A secure and scalable API framework was defined to allow easy integration with third-party applications, to ensure rapid onboarding of new schools with minimal effort.

  • Product Development

    .Leveraging Trigent’s capabilities in Product engineering, the team developed a ground-up VMS application. The Application development team worked with the in-house Engineers in developing an end-to-end bespoke solution that was automated, well-integrated, and seamless. The product development was a highly agile and iterative process. Several prototypes were built for feedback and generating product user stories that provided the organization with an idea of the custom solution. Prior to further enhancements, the product was ready for the release.

    The robust application streamlined, automated, and simplified the entire visitor-check-in process by providing a connected digital experience in the following areas:

    • Background screenings
    • Student pick-up
    • Silent alerts (for suspicious entries)
    • Guest badges
    • Health screenings, others

    For ease of configuration and scalability, the application was built on cloud-native architecture on Microsoft Azure.

    The software architecture was built on the PHP framework, and tools such as HTML5 and CSS4 were leveraged as the UI Layer. The team also built a database leveraging MySQL wherein all the data captured with regard to adult check-ins through background screenings, facial recognition, and driver's license scan, to name a few, were stored.

    Additionally, the team integrated several disparate systems, such as background checks and facial recognition, to improve efficiency, transparency, and security. The seamless integration ensured continuous scalability and performance as well as increased agility and reliability, thereby reducing uncertainty and risk.

    To attain the most out of their digital efforts, a DevOps framework/environment was created. Trigent’s QE resources were aligned with the development sprints for shift left testing to ensure bugs were trapped early, and performance roadblocks were pre-emptively handled.

  • Deployment

    .The team adhered to several industry benchmarks such as OWASP and CIS (Center for Internet Security) for security standards.

    Conscious technical decisions were made early on to ensure that the application was built to scale on Azure as IaaS. With loosely coupled Azure components at play, deployment was seamless. As the load increased on the system, automation enabled the DevOps teams to monitor a self-scalable autonomous deployment.

    Trigent team was able to actively monitor application & service usage on Azure and proactively take steps to ensure the infrastructure spending was under control and met with the business demands.

  • Monitor and Manage

    .Given its importance, the application is constantly monitored and tested to prevent bugs and downtime. Unit, smoke, and compatibility testing are performed to analyze defect leakage and test case pass percentage, among others. APIs are also constantly tested, leveraging Postman. Static code analysis & periodic Pen Tests are used to ensure the application was free of any vulnerabilities.

  • Client benefits

    The cutting-edge VMS application not only provided a risk-free learning environment for students in more than 15,000 schools across the US but also enabled them to:

    • Eliminate manual processes and improve digital efficiency at schools
    • Attain a fully customizable workflow
    • Establish a WOW first impression for visitors
    • Reduced cost
    • Stay compliant and handle its visitor’s data effectively
    • Analyze & flag several million nefarious activities over a few months of deployment
  • Technology Stack
    Technology stack:
    php azure ng-bootstrap angular html5 css3 postman