API-Driven Architecture Streamlines Client Services for Dental Implant Clinics
Growth is a goal for almost all companies, but it usually generates issues that have to be solved along the way, as system design decisions made when a company is small can turn into constraints as it scales.
A practice management services firm which provides back office processes to specialty dental clinics had run into this exact problem. It had evolved an IT architecture based around Salesforce as a single “back end”, to which all of their other applications and cloud services—including Google Cloud apps, Contentful (a content management platform), and Duende (for identity management and authentication)—were integrated in a point-to-point approach.
As the company began to scale its client base, it realized that adding customer service representatives in a linear manner would quickly become costly (and compress its margins), and so it decided to streamline client services by offering its clinics a self-service mobile app that their customers could use to access their own information and schedule appointments. And since the firm recognized that more point-to-point integrations back to Salesforce would create costly complexity and reduce the organization’s flexibility even further, a new approach was necessary.
The firm asked Big Compass to bring its extensive experience with both Salesforce and MuleSoft to bear on the challenge, working in close collaboration with the client’s IT and business teams and with the front-end shop the client had hired to develop the mobile app.
With a lean team of two—and in only three and a half months—Big Compass designed and implemented a solution based on MuleSoft’s proven three-layered architecture. This approach splits integration logic into tiers: an “Experience” layer and a “System” layer that serve as the connection points for consumer apps and provider apps respectively, and a “Process” layer in the middle that hosts re-usable business logic and insulates the other systems from changes (like new fields) made elsewhere in the architecture.
Leveraging Big Compass’s MuleSoft Agility Accelerator—a MuleSoft Mastery Method-based program for rapid platform implementation and knowledge transfer—the team was able to swiftly set up MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform infrastructure and build an Experience API for the new mobile app, System APIs for Salesforce, Duende, and Contentful, and several Process APIs. Following best practices and in the context of the client’s need for ongoing flexibility, our team’s development approach ensured both that the Process and System APIs would be re-usable across a variety of business scenarios and use cases, and that the newly-installed API infrastructure would be robust enough to support heavy use beyond the scenarios defined in the project.
Since the client had no existing Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) development processes, the Big Compass team set these up, using GitHub Actions to automate the build, test, and deploy pipeline. Meanwhile, to make sure its team could continue to evolve the solution after delivery, the client sent developers for MuleSoft training, and the Big Compass team complemented this with hands-on familiarization sessions focused on the solution’s key components and architecture.
With the completion of the project, the practice management firm was able to roll out a robust and high-performing mobile app to its clients and their end users, an app which is already enhancing customer satisfaction and taking work load away from service reps who are now able to spend time handling more complicated customer issues.
Just as importantly, the firm is now running on a modern, API-driven architecture, which through its scalability and flexibility will support its aggressive plans for growth, enable the steady enhancement of the patient experience, and make it easier to implement the compliance solutions the firm requires to operate in its industry.