Computing students apply their skills to help legal software leader Clio

BCIT Computing students gain practical work experience and provide innovative solutions to diverse clients as part of their Industry Sponsored Student Project.

This past term was the first time a Burnaby-based software company, Clio, took on a project team to help solve their tech challenge.

Clio was founded ten years ago by with a mission to “transform the practice of law, for good.” It’s now a leader in cloud-based law practice management software. Computer Systems Technology (CST) Diploma students Gloria Ngo, Alexis C. Mendiola, Charles Huang, Flemming (Li-Uei) Chow, and William Chan were tasked with creating a new code security parsing tool for Clio. The tool needed to help speed up development processes and free up developer time, automating a process that had previously been manual.

Client input ensured success

As a rapidly growing business based in the same community as BCIT, Clio saw the benefit of working with students who would soon be graduating and looking for jobs in the talent-hungry tech sector.

Matthew King, Clio’s Director of Engineering, feels the collaboration was very successful, and he credits the students’ “extreme learning attitude.”

“I was really impressed with how attentive and prepared the team was. They were consistently prepared for meetings, seeking to remove ambiguities in project requirements and how we wanted the tool to work,” Matthew explains. “Very often it was pointing the team to the resources or information and the team took care of the rest. When introducing new concepts to the team, the team quickly grasped the concept and implemented it.”

The students were grateful for early support from Clio. “We weren’t exactly sure how to move forward in the beginning,” explains Gloria. “But our client was gracious enough to guide us and point us in the right direction.”

Despite the challenges of a spring of upheaval under COVID-19, the students enjoyed their experience. “Even during this unique time where we are isolated and stuck at home, we were able to clearly communicate with the client and strategically organize our time,” says Gloria.

“Bringing a well scoped project with MVP requirements and additional stretch goals worked well,” explains Matthew. “So well, that we did two projects with BCIT ISSP. We were incredibly pleased with both teams.”

“We did two projects with BCIT ISSP. We were incredibly pleased with both teams.” – Matthew King, Director of Engineering, Clio

Tackling a challenging project with the right approach

“The biggest challenge was also the best part of working on this project with Clio,” according to Alexis. “We had to learn every technology we used from scratch, having little to no experience with the technologies requested by the client. It was frustrating at times, but then nothing was more satisfying than learning what we needed and then making our product work. Overcoming the challenges was part of the fun.”

“nothing was more satisfying than learning what we needed and then making our product work” Alexis Mendiola

“Something very unique about this project was that we got to work on the initial product/solution,” reports Gloria. “Most projects would already have some sort of former implementation that companies or clients would want to work off of.” She felt that being able to start from scratch made the project, while challenging, immensely enjoyable.

Instructor Maryam Khezrzadeh credits the group’s approach for the project success. “This group had a process in place. They sought to understand the problem before jumping to solutions – they knew the importance of asking questions,” she explains.

Gloria emphasizes the importance of planning, “With the limited amount of time we had, we had to be decisive on what features would and would not be possible to implement.”

Matthew agrees, “The team did a great job dividing up pieces of the project. This helped them understand what each member was accountable for and allowed them to bring the needed focus and attention to the areas where it mattered most.”

Final thoughts

“We are so impressed with what they accomplished, and they did it working entirely online!” concludes Maryam of the team’s project for Clio.

What would Matthew say to companies who are considering participating in ISSP? “Do it. I was really pleased with the motivation of the team and quality of their work.”

Learn more about submitting an ISSP project idea for the coming term:

Photo credit Gloria Ngo: Online team meeting

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