Sleeps12 is a vacation rental booking agency, specializing in large luxury holiday houses and cottages in the United Kingdom. (Their properties sleep twelve, get it?)
Competition in vacation rentals is fierce. The team at Sleeps12 had built their business on software called Scrumpy, and relied on it to process payments and manage bookings.
However, they were growing increasingly frustrated with paying £1200 a month for an app that clearly wasn’t being maintained or improved.
Every time they notified Scrumpy’s team about a bug, improvement, or missing feature, they got the same answer: “We’ll put it on the list.”
The bugs never got fixed, and the new features never came.
Sleeps12 had already begun looking for a new provider when the relationship with Scrumpy’s owners took a surprising turn. Sales manager Oliver Yiend was on the leadership team at the time:
“The company then came to us and said, ‘We’re thinking of shutting it down. Would you be interested in taking it on?”
At first Oliver and the other decision-makers were cautious and hesitant:
“Well, we know nothing about this. We aren’t developers. We don’t do software. How can we figure out whether we could run it?”
However, after Scrumpy’s owners connected them with Foxsoft, the development agency they had considered hiring to work on the app, Sleeps12 began to more seriously consider acquiring the software.
The idea of owning the software had merit, but what would they really be dealing with?
Sleeps12 had used Scrumpy for a long time. They knew how frustrating it was to use, and after they hired Foxsoft for a WebFoundation audit, Foxsoft’s engineers confirmed that the app had issues in all four areas (Safety, Resilience, Adaptability, and Documentation):
- Scrumpy was a big, multi-layered app with complex functionality. It had a booking system, property management system, website builder, CRM, and content management system for property photos.
- It served various user types with different goals, needs, and access: booking agencies, property owners, guests, and even housekeepers.
- It was running on an out-of-date version of Rails.
- The technical debt was significant.
- The original developers had performed no routine maintenance.
- The software had no documentation whatsoever.
Foxsoft explained that the app could be viable, but unfortunately, it hadn’t been maintained for two or three years. They couldn’t assess the true severity of the situation without several more weeks of diagnostic work.
Sleeps12 had a decision to make.
They could acquire the Scrumpy platform and pay Foxsoft to rescue the app, with no guarantee that was even possible. The time, money, and resources could prove to be a massive waste.
Or, they could simply pass up the opportunity, and resume their frantic search for another software provider.
Sleeps12 decided to take a calculated risk.
They acquired the Scrumpy platform, and the original plan was for Foxsoft to spend the audit period in November and December 2021 learning the system and knocking off some quick wins.
Oliver recalls how the situation got worse before it got better:
“We knew it [the application] was rather big, and when Foxsoft did that initial audit, they found it to be larger than they were expecting.”
Scrumpy had an even bigger problem than years’ worth of technical debt.
The app used an old version of Stripe, and Stripe had already told developers they would be discontinuing support. If Foxsoft couldn’t get the update working in time, Scrumpy would effectively be dead in the water.
Guests wouldn’t be able to make payments, and Sleeps12 and the other agencies depending on payment processing would see their businesses crippled.
Without knowing what they were really up against, Foxsoft’s engineers needed to help Scrumpy (and Sleeps12) avoid a catastrophic problem.
The clock was ticking.
Sleeps12 had meanwhile switched to a different software to hedge their bets.
Just as they were discovering more and more issues with the new provider, they got the greenlight from Foxsoft.
- The updates and improvements Scrumpy needed were possible.
- Development wasn’t going to cost millions of pounds.
- The app (and SaaS business model) were viable.
From March 2022 onward, Foxsoft did what Sleeps12 had hoped was possible.
The investment began to pay off.
Scrumpy now uses the right version of Rails. For years, Scrumpy’s users, Sleeps12 included, had begged for new features, and the customer support team could finally share good news and timelines.
They can release new features and actually show customers progress on the backlog.
The app has become a viable business in its own right:
- Foxsoft dramatically reduced Scrumpy’s risks and security issues.
- The Scrumpy platform is now eliminating loads of manual work for the Sleeps12 team.
- Increased efficiency has made the company more profitable.
- The worst of the technical debt has been dealt with.
- Many of the long-term bugs have been squashed.
- The software has low turnover.
More recently, Foxsoft has helped Sleeps12 develop a clear roadmap for ongoing maintenance and new features.
The system is finally doing what Sleeps12 wanted it to do and have been asking it to do for the last three years. They now have software they control:
“We now have control of where this is going and it is doing what we need it to do. Another feature development makes our lives easier, which means that we’ve got more time to bring in more bookings and focus, therefore, on new properties for our Sleeps12 site.”
In less than 12 months, the app has gone from having 3 years’ worth of technical debt to being a secure, stable platform.
Sleeps12 has gone from what Oliver called a “position of weakness” where Scrumpy posed the biggest risk to “a position of strength.” Now that the app is stable, Oliver and Sleeps12’s other leaders are excited about the possibilities of the SaaS business:
“There’s this whole opportunity of Scrumpy as a platform. We have this new world that we can look to.”
At Foxsoft we’re proud of the work we’ve done to rescue Scrumpy, but we’re even more proud of what Oliver had to say about his experience working with us: