Case Study: PNA Innovations

Custom Software, CRM, Laboratory Management, and Business Intelligence

Problem Domain

Custom Software • CRM • Laboratory Process Tracking • Biotechnology • Productivity Tracking • Work Flow Analytics • Document Management

Technologies Used

Django/Python • MySQL • Django Rest Framework • Backbone.js • Google Charts • Zurb Foundation • Wkhtmltopdf • Ubuntu Server

Excel Spreadsheet PNA - Old Process

Managing a  Biotech Startup

When PNA Innovations first came to us, they described their process for managing orders, laboratory procedures, and documents using a combination of Dropbox, Excel Spreadsheets, and Podio. It was quite an ingenious setup. However, the process was prone to error, there were insufficient accountability controls, and the limits of Podio and Excel were quickly being realized as the dataset grew.

Therefore, PNA Innovations hired us to build a new, database-driven, web app to uniquely address their problem domain.

The Process

We spent several weeks learning about the specific problems our client needed to address. When working with a startup company, the exact solution is not always clear and can change every time a business "pivot" is made. Therefore, we started by building the application in easy-to-modify chunks–testing and rolling out new features as they became available. 

The Solution

Custom CRM - PNAFirst we developed an application to track the custom sequences (the product) our client produces. We became familiar enough with the science to perform required calculations and display the results in an access-controlled website. Next we worked with the client to import and verify old data. This process helped to identify cases of human error, which allowed us to correct the dataset.

We then built a custom CRM and order tracking system. The CRM captures all the data necessary for PNA's operations (e.g. contact information, billing and shipping addresses, discounts, tax status, etc.). This information is linked to every order placed with PNA Innovations. The order tracking system doubles as a laboratory process management system. It has built-in tools to track the status of the laboratory procedures, and it records all the changes with date and time stamps for analyzing later.

The excess product from a laboratory run is recorded in the inventory tracking system. The inventory application reduces waste by automatically alerting chemists when an order placed has matching product in inventory. It also records location and quality control data, which is associated with any orders that make use of the inventoried product.

Business Intelligence and Analytics - PNAAnalytics and Business Intelligence

Few things are more important to a startup or small business than actionable data. That's why our client asked us to provide them with information related to order queue volume, chemist productivity, and project completion. We made modifications to the laboratory tracking system so that data concerning all of these metrics is automatically recorded. No additional effort required. Then we used Google Charts and custom algorithms to display the data gathered in a meaningful way.