AGTA Says No to Third-Party Software and Goes Custom


You’ve been running a couple of contests yearly using old school, offline methods to calculate results. You know the process can be modified and optimized for tablets, but would it be best to modify an existing program or have a judging tool custom-programmed with all the features you want and none you don’t?

BlueChannel has had a relationship with American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) for years, so when they came to us with the question, we did our homework and reported back that we felt we could develop their tool from scratch, for less than boxed solutions, and ahead of schedule.

Thank y’all!!!! This is awesome!!  Coming from the person that’s had to do the calculations by hand, by remote, by rock, paper, scissors….I couldn’t have picked a better program!! Thanks again!
Kami Swinney - Operations Manager, American Gem Trade Association


The judging tool needed to be able to accept an Access initial import file of items to be judged. It needed to allow those products to be edited by administrators. Users would need to be set up and designated as administrators or judges. And, of course, the tool would need to calculate which items advanced through the rounds of judging based on logic outlined by AGTA. These feature requests and others were gathered over the phone and via email until BlueChannel had a clear picture of what we needed to do.

doing-our-thingOur job was to get the concepts broken down into deliverable components and to keep things simple – from the tool itself to the development method. First, we created a features list and discussed it with our programmer, Mick, so all questions were answered. Timelines were discussed and clearly outlined. And then Mick jammed.

Large blocks of time were built into his workload and we insulated him from interruptions so by the time we took our first glance, the tool was nearly complete and bug free. Gotta love that!

batting-it-back-forthAs with most of our projects, we delivered the tool to the client via iterative launches. After performing quality assurance on client-provided tablets (they shipped them to us for testing), we did a few quick fixes before Alpha Launch. We provided AGTA the opportunity to use the tool just as their judges will. That simulation revealed a few remaining tweaks we needed to make.

Building time for review and feedback is essential to a smooth project development and delivery. We account for this in timelines.


American Gem Trade Association


Service to the Jewelry Trade

BlueChannel Value

  • Teamwork
    Sheri and Kami at AGTA were able to clearly communicate the requirements of the build-out, how the logic worked, and all special over-ride features needed. We translated those into a task list and let Mick go to town. We all tested the tool and worked as a team to finalize it for use at the contests in late October 2014.
  • Guidance
    Knowing when to go custom and when to leverage 3rd party solutions is tough. We were able to help AGTA know the pros and cons of each method of development so they could make an informed decision.
  • Heroics
    On this project, we were afforded the opportunity to test using the tablets they’ll use during the contest. During QA we were able to “fix it before they find it” and deliver a more fully realized version of their tool. We also kept a running list of future development ideas to ensure they know we’re invested and eager to be a part of their future growth.

Nuts & Bolts

  • Custom programming
    • User management
    • 3-round contest rules/advancement logic
    • Custom overrides
    • Custom reporting
  • Built on Laravel PHP framework
  • Optimized for tablets

reflection-projectionThis project was a success because the Team AGTA communicated with Team BlueChannel so well. Their features wish list was fully understood by both sides and left little room for misinterpretation or project creep. Because this was a custom solution, the tool does only what it is supposed to and the user experience isn’t convoluted. It was a streamlined project developed within their budget and delivered early. Definitely a win-win.


(Thank you.)

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