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World Vision

Unlocking potential: Helping World Vision to deliver data visualisations to customers worldwide

Client World Vision
Service areas Consulting & digital transformation

World Vision International (WVI) are involved in disaster relief and humanitarian aid around the world. A key challenge in this space is the 'last mile' where food, materials and provisions move from a warehouse to the final recipients.

WVI pioneered the use of technology in this last mile and developed LMMS, a technology platform now used by numerous WVI offices and other aid agencies.

What did we do?

LMMS customers increasingly need better visibility into their data to spot trends and govern their agencies' allocation of resources. We developed a strategy, architecture and technology suite to add data analysis and visualisation to their platform.

They knew they needed a new approach for their next era of product development but were unsure about how to go about it. Suru helped them critically assess their customers’ needs and product strategy, analysed the options available to them and guided them through the project.

The customer comes first, not the technology

It would be natural to tackle this project with traditional business intelligence (BI) tools — products like PowerBI, Tableau or Chartio — which is what WVI expected we'd recommend.

However, as with all our projects, Suru conducted a customer-oriented research and planning phase which challenged WVI's assumptions and highlighted the needs of the users, not the features of the technology.

This process uncovered two critical insights:


The level of customisation and integration required to make the user experience good enough — remember, agencies are paying for LMMS as a product — simply wasn't possible with traditional BI platforms.


An off the shelf BI platform wasn't going to provide the long-term modularity that WVI's plans for LMMS require.

Suru recommended an alternative approach using open source technologies, containerisation for robust deployments and a modular architecture. This gave WVI the flexibility to fine-tune how the system works for end users and created a best-in-class experience.

Design, meet data

WVI had some initial design ideas for what visualisations they thought would be useful to their customers. Suru critiqued and improved those designs by validating them against real customer data. In many places we developed better ways to visually communicate so the data told the right story and helped end users — mostly agency leadership — understand the complexity on the ground and glean insights from their data.

Suru also worked with WVI to approach these new data visualisation capabilities in an agile way, breaking up their long term vision into smaller pieces which could be independently released. This approach, along with Suru's modular system architecture, allowed WVI to release a few components early and then test demand and usage patterns before progressing to the other areas, guiding their investment.

Designing data visualisations
Designing project dashboards

Future-proof architecture for rapid iteration

With numerous on-premise instances of the LMMS product deployed in countries around the world, rapid iteration is a core challenge. Suru's proposed architecture involved cloud-deployed components tightly integrated into the LMMS experience to allow WVI to update to the platform in days rather than months, but to do that the application needed to be centralised.

WVI couldn't simply read data from the in-country instances — doing so would break data privacy laws, not to mention adding security and operational uptime risks — so Suru designed the system to have in-country components that strip PII and other information, pre-aggregate at a low level and then transfer entirely anonymous data to the central data visualisation system.

This gave WVI the best of both worlds:

90 seconds
Average time to deploy features to all customers

They could rapidly deploy updates to the platform without asking customers to make a change and never had to navigate the legal and ethical issues associated with personal data. Updates to the platform can now be deployed to 100% of WVI's customers in a matter of minutes rather than months.

Increasing velocity of future development

Suru's architecture also increased the velocity of future development. The system's various logical components are cleanly separated so they can be developed, swapped out and scaled up or down entirely independently from each other.

This flexibility brings real value to organisations such as World Vision who are needing to respond rapidly to the changing landscape of their delivery. Having technology that is inflexible in such a world increases the risk of not being able to deploy useful tools and hampers charities' effectiveness.

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