GTEC: Telefilm focuses on speed with cloud platform

This Crown corporation jettisoned its old-fashioned application-development framework for a software-service system. Now it’s collaborating and communicating faster than ever before.

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Not long ago, the IT team at Telefilm Canada needed months to create an app to meet users’ requirements. Now it takes just a few days.

What changed? Quite a lot, said Matt Drouin, a solution architect at the Crown corporation, which provides financial support to TV and movie production companies. The main changes were a switch to a cloud-based application development platform and using a more collaborative, user-inclusive approach.

In his presentation at GTEC, the government-focused technology conference in Ottawa earlier this month, Drouin described the cascading effects of those shifts.

What’s this hammer for again?

Good tools and good processes: those were the crucial ingredients supporting Telefilm’s digital transformation. As Drouin put it, the organization needed both to succeed — not only high-quality tools, but also the ability to use them to the best effect.

With respect to tools, Telefilm signed up for a cloud-based application platform as a service (aPaaS). Drouin explained that the aPaaS solution took care of a number of systems and processes that Telefilm used to manage on its own, such as technology security and reliability.

With a cloud service provider handling those aspects of the infrastructure, Telefilm could focus on other matters, such as how to craft the application to meets users’ needs and how to make it work across multiple platforms (read: mobile devices as well as traditional laptops and desktops). No longer burdened with IT maintenance tasks, Telefilm had the wherewithal to develop at a much quicker pace.

Telefilm needed to change its processes, too — the ‘how’ of the IT framework. Primarily, the organization moved away from the Waterfall system of application development to an iterative model. Waterfall is sequential, touching on all aspects from analysis, design, testing and implementation. It’s thorough but slow. And it kept Telefilm from providing users with the apps they needed in a timely manner.

Instead, Telefilm got iterating: taking users’ input and quickly creating demos of the apps for users to try, then taking feedback on the demos to sharpen the functionality, all in a matter of days. “You’re not live-coding, but almost,” Drouin said.

Better together

Drouin listed a number of goals for Telefilm: faster app development, better security, greater reliability and reduced costs. In his GTEC presentation, he didn’t detail the cost reductions or enhanced security measures that came with the organization’s digital transformation.

But it’s hard to imagine that Telefilm didn’t save money and improve the overall security of its infrastructure through this exercise. And there’s no doubt the undertaking has resulted in a faster and more user-focused approach to application development.

Developers and users work together much more closely than they used to. Everyone’s engaged in the process, reducing the risk of miscommunication between the people destined to use the app and those putting it all together. And the app that developers present as a finished product is much closer to what users actually need, which reduces the number of changes required later on.

Come next year’s GTEC conference, don’t be surprised to hear that other departments of the federal government are following suit.

Image: iStock

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