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Omnicom Finds Its Answer To Increasing Developer Efficiency

This is a letter written by Marshall Scipio, Omnicom Technical Manager, to Omnicom Group's Executive Management.

Application Development of the Management Representation Letter Survey
Written by Marshall Scipio, Technical Manager


This case story is about a specific problem that was solved by using a unique solution set, focused around a product called Accelerator. The purpose of communicating this experience is to promote the use of this solution set to increase software development efficiency at Omnicom.

Problem definition

Omnicom needed to upgrade the application for our Management Compliance Survey. The old system was limited, difficult to change/maintain the user data and the business logic. We had identified that we wanted to build a new application and that we needed a serious development effort to allow for the flexibility required to manage the changing requirements for this application. The problem was that time & cost constraints hindered the ability of Omnicom to address the application. We had the additional problem of not having a trusted external software vendor that had a sufficiently successful track record of delivery on time, in budget and to requirements.

Surround Technologies and the Accelerator product performed at the highest levels on this project. The Surround team was excellent to work with, and the Accelerator product brings the latest Microsoft technologies into a practical usable set of frameworks for the .NET developer.

Solution Initiation

I attended Microsoft TechEd in June of 2011 and became interested in a product called Accelerator from Surround Technologies. I was intrigued by the promise of Rapid Application Development, with the added benefits of advanced architecture, and highly functional User Interface (UI).

The Accelerator product, which consists of a set of productivity frameworks, supports the newest Microsoft .NET technologies including but not limited to WCF, WPF, Silverlight, and MVVM. Accelerator generates n-tiered applications that are able to support multiple databases such as SQL Server, DB2, and Oracle.

We engaged Surround Technologies in July to produce and deliver a solution in a few weeks, that we had previously anticipated would take months. The solution would require speed & agility from both the product and the company.

Fast Tracked Solution Development

In the first week Surround defined the problem, designed a database schema, and storyboarded the solution. In the second week they produced the core system infrastructure and Intranet data entry in WPF. In the third week they produced the Internet survey in Silverlight. In the 4th week we performed QA and deployed.

The solution consists of 14 files, 10 WPF forms for internal administration, a Survey user interface, and systems for scheduling, reporting, logging, and emailing. Other salient features:

  • Single Sign On
  • System sends out tasks to CEOs, CFOs and Controllers based on their roles in the system
  • When user logs in the system gives them the appropriate representation letters and the appropriate Hyperion codes.
  • System can have representation letters that cover multiple Hyperion codes, or allow user to submit representation letters for various Hyperion codes.
  • Reminder emails sent to CEOs, CFOs and Controllers when they have not submitted one time 3 days before the rep letters are due, or when they have not submitted and they are late.
  • User can easily obtain a PDF copy of their representation letters from the previous quarters.
  • Role Based, multiple roles, multiple roles per users, multiple roles per agency, roles per each Hyperion code but not all are mandatory.
  • Can handle deadlines that are configurable each quarter (deadlines change every quarter).
  • Notification to Administrators when someone replies with a no response.
  • Multilingual capability.
  • Validations / Logic / questions required / if no, explanation required /Admin Functions / User Profile / Demographic Attributes / Templates Profile / Deadlines / Periods / targeted messaging by role
  • E-Mail Alerts / Summary E-Mails
  • Audit & logging features

Issue Resolution

As impressive as the development was, it is important to note that unpredictable things happened, as happen in any development project, and that the tools and company reacted to all challenges in an agile and efficient manner.

An example is that Omnicom has a standard of SQL Server 2005, and Accelerator only supported SQL Server 2008 and above. But because Accelerator has distinctly separate layers, Surround was able to assign a separate resource to retrofit the Data Access Layer to 2005.

Additionally, the scheduling and emailing systems took extra dimensions than were anticipated. To Surround’s credit they not only adjusted to the complexity, they built new functionality into their product to support it (at no cost to Omnicom).


Surround Technologies and the Accelerator product performed at the highest levels on this project. The Surround team was excellent to work with, and the Accelerator product brings the latest Microsoft technologies into a practical usable set of frameworks for the .NET developer.

I propose we set forward a plan to incorporate the Accelerator tool into our future projects as soon as possible. I have reason to believe that we will experience the same positive results in any future product that we experienced on this one. I believe the technology and the process are critical to Omnicom’s future.

Screen Shots

Step 1: Define Role (Management Representation Letter Survey)Step 1: Define Role
Step 2: Select Language (Management Representation Letter Survey)Step 2: Select Language
Step 3: Questionnaire (Management Representation Letter Survey)Step 3: Questionnaire
Step 3: Questionnaire Page 2 (Management Representation Letter Survey)Step 3: Questionnaire Page 2
Step 4: Review and Confirm (Management Representation Letter Survey)Step 4: Review and Confirm
Step 5: Digital Signature (Management Representation Letter Survey)Step 5: Digital Signature
Step 6: Submit Confirmation (Management Representation Letter Survey)Step 6: Submit Confirmation
Site and Survey Administration SystemSite and Survey Administration System

Project Info

  • Client: Omnicom Group. Omnicom is an inter-connected global network of leading marketing communications companies
  • Industry: Marketing and Technology
  • Product Used: The Accelerator
  • Professional Services Used: Custom Software Development Services, User Experience Services, and Accelerator and .NET Training
  • Technologies Used:
    • Administration System Front End: Native Windows Desktop Application written in .NET and WPF
    • Web Application: Silverlight Web Browser plug-in application written in .NET
    • Web Services: WCF services from a Windows Server
    • Backend System: SQL Server running on Windows Server.

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