What was the challenge?

L7 Enterprise Science Platform (ESP) is a massive application designed for scientists across many industries. It’s a swiss army knife that serves multiple purposes in the process of research and clinical development. From the beginning, the goal was to create a comprehensive platform that makes a wide variety of scientists’ work easier and faster, no matter what exactly they are working on.

In a project like this one, every feature has to be thoroughly consulted with target groups, which often means diving deep into their fields of work. Of course, such a task isn’t foreign to most developers, but it usually involves much more accessible topics than analytical pipeline development and managing laboratory processes. For me, a developer with scientific experience, and my teammates with a similar background in science, that comes incomparably easier.

Why is domain expertise so instrumental?

We joined the project when the wheels were already in motion. At first, it was two of us and one of the first tasks we were assigned to was creating a tool for managing lab inventory. We inherited it from other devs and immediately realized there were a few things to fix. And we wouldn’t be able to see it without our experience while working in laboratories.

See, a most basic lab container in life sciences is an assay plate. Usually it contains from 96, up to even 3456 cells. Previous devs, having no lab experience, couldn’t know that and did not design the tool to support such big containers. We immediately picked up on that and made necessary tweaks. Of course, that wasn’t some severe problem, and it didn’t require us working for hours on it, but things like this stack up. So, what about other examples?

  1. We know the industry-specific tools and solutions
    One of the tasks we had to complete involved creating a widget that calculates the characteristics of substances, and it required a cheminformatics library to do so. We worked with it before on a different project, so we knew it very well. With that knowledge, we could finish the job much faster than expected.

  2. Over 60% of our team consists of science graduates who are happy to share their academic experience
    The most recent example, I’ve just received a task to create a module for experiment design. Surprisingly enough, that’s a topic that I’ve written a paper on during my university years, so I immediately know how to proceed with it with very little preparation or research.

While working on software like L7 ESP, regular developers, no matter how skillful they are, need to constantly consult every detail with users, which in this case means scientists that work on very advanced projects. In our case, the process is much more efficient and, therefore, cheaper.

Speaking the language of science

Of course, it’s not only domain knowledge that fuels our partnership with L7. Another instrumental aspect is communication, which goes far beyond knowing advanced scientific vocabulary. As a team of science graduates, we have a much better understanding of what we’re working on, what is the purpose of each feature, and how exactly scientists will use it. Thanks to our academic experience and previous work on other life-science projects, such as Synthia by Merck, we’re able to consult each idea, ask the right questions, and deliver better results.

There’s a common scenario in which an end-user approaches the company with an inquiry about a current feature or even has an idea for a new one that will answer their needs more efficiently. In this case, given our scientific expertise, we don’t need to ask a series of basic questions but almost immediately start discussing solutions and figuring out the best way to move forward.

On the same note, I highly recommend reading an article by our CEO, Adrian Zamorski:

From software house to bioinformatics consulting company

Team extension that keeps on extending

When our team of two joined the project, our client already had about 30 developers working on it. Shortly after we managed to deal with our assigned tasks successfully, it was clear to our client that there needs to be more of us. So we’ve started recruiting, and slowly but surely, our team expanded to 9 developers.

Evolving together as partners

For both of our teams, the partnership is more than just working on the same project. Over the course of it, the project has expanded significantly. Due to the nature of the application, new users regularly approach our client with ideas for tweaks and even entire features. Exactly as intended, the L7 ESP has become a multi-purpose solution that helps numerous scientists across many different industries. And we’re proud to be a part of it.

As a result, the need for devs that understand science grew significantly. Each year we’ve been incorporating more and more people into the development team and we’ve been evolving as a company in a similar fashion.

WANTED: scientists that can code

Earlier this year, we participated in the American Chemical Society Conference in San Diego. During the event, we met numerous people from corporations, startups, and other teams that work or plan to work on cheminformatics and bioinformatics software. Many of them were surprised that teams like ours even exist.

One of the key reasons for it is that throughout the years, companies that developed life-science software were very protective of their projects and the entire company's know-how. And, of course, that’s perfectly understandable, but with the proper security measures, it’s an entirely viable option. And even despite a significant time zone difference. Thanks to projects like ours with L7, we’re showing that such a model is not only possible but can lead to long-lasting, fruitful relationships.

So, to the entire L7 team, we would like to thank you for your trust, and we’re excited to still contribute to your fascinating project. If you’re interested in their platform, you can read about it here.

And if you’re looking for a software development partner for a cheminformatics or bioinformatics project, you can arrange a call here.