JR Ridinger, the founder of Market America | SHOP.COM, held a strong belief that everyday people should be able to own their own businesses. This vision has been significantly advanced through the development of proprietary technology, such as the unique web application named that is internally referred to as “Blueprint.” This homegrown solution hasn’t just been a cornerstone for company operations, but its development has also led to substantial cost savings. These savings have been passed down to the company’s distributors, known as UnFranchise Owners.
Thomas Collins, the Director of Release Management, and Dana Robinson, the Release and Applications Operations Manager, recently provided in-depth insights into this tool’s value and impact.
Collins was introduced to Blueprint during his interview process at Market America when this web application was simply known as the “code review tool.” Over his tenure, Collins has witnessed the continuous evolution of Blueprint as it adapted to meet the organization’s ever-changing needs. He fondly remarks, “Blueprint has developed and evolved so much, it’s hard to keep track. It’s now used not only for code review but also for change management, release management, incident management and even more.”
Dana Robinson paints a clear picture of the wide-ranging utility of Blueprint within the company, calling it a “mission critical application.” He goes on to elaborate, “Developers use it every day to build their scripts for their projects, they use it for testing. Project Managers and Business Analysts use it to help them manage projects. We manage all of our content on all of our sites through Blueprint – all our teams use it.”
Blueprint’s adaptability has allowed Market America to incorporate features from other software without incurring additional costs. This has resulted in streamlined processes, such as incident management, change management, and release management, as well as the aggregation of key performance indicators (KPIs) for monthly reviews.
The financial value of Blueprint, as described by Robinson, is considerable. “Our proprietary application, Blueprint, saves anywhere from the upper hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars over its lifetime due to increased operational efficiencies for our development teams as well as our code deployment group. The software licensing fees for a tool that is comparable would be several hundred thousand dollars a year.”
Beyond monetary savings, Blueprint also provides practical benefits to both the internal team and unfranchised owners. It serves as a risk management tool, facilitating the smooth operation of their websites. The goal is to maintain an uptime of 99.999% across all websites, a feat to which Blueprint contributes significantly.
Robinson brings to light the unmatched versatility and adaptability of Blueprint, further highlighting the substantial annual savings for Market America. But the real value of this proprietary web application becomes evident when compared with market alternatives. Robinson shares an interesting observation: “More often than not, when someone presents us with a problem, we have managed to tailor Blueprint to solve it. Despite continually exploring new technology, we have yet to find any software on the market that can fully replicate all that Blueprint offers. Keep in mind, comparable software starts at around $250,000. As it stands, this is an expense Market America has managed to avoid.”
Overall, Blueprint is a perfect embodiment of JR Ridinger’s vision of empowering individuals to own their businesses. It demonstrates Market America’s unique and innovative approach to tackling business challenges and stands as a testament to the company’s ability to develop advanced, fit-for-purpose tools that continue to drive its success.