SourceCloud was tasked with building, a complete bespoke HR system to replace the current system that the client had been using for several years. Based in Hinckley Leicestershire HR:4UK are passionate and committed to providing a comprehensive range of employment and HR services.
WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?
In 2017 the HR:4UK system was running on expired technologies and due to its evolution, had become hard to develop or even maintain. With many simple changes requiring development resource and taking excessive amounts of time.
WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES?
With over 1,000 clients and years of bespoke development, the solution and process to run it was complex. What would be deemed simple administrative functions often needed the intervention of a developer. With the client’s limited resource purely supporting the existing systems, there was little time for them to research new methods and technologies to develop a new solution.
SourceCloud was brought in to develop a new bespoke solution building from the ground up, supporting existing clients and adding features to make support easier and quicker.
The process started with several workshops allowing SourceCloud to gain a deeper understanding of the current solution, the issues it presented as well as features that worked well. These we developed into a set of wireframes once signed off converting them into stories allowing for the development of a new solution, using an Agile methodology.
The existing database had several technical issues in terms of design, a new schema was developed, along with a migration process for current clients. One of the biggest challenges were several hundred handbook websites for clients, all managed with static HTML and CSS templates, by there very nature these were labour intensive to maintain.
The existing solution managed contracts and clauses in a very cumbersome way, with unique index numbers having to be maintained manually to control the ordering of clauses.
WHAT WAS THE SOLUTION?
The new solution was developed in AWS, based on auto-scaled windows servers sitting on an RDS instance, running MSSQL. Providing both scalability and better resilience than the incumbent solution, due to the nature of AWS, the scripting technologies and DevOps pipeline approach, meant the client could deploy and tear down multiple development and test environments. SoundCloud’s Agile approach incorporating 2-week sprints, that delivers a ‘potentially shippable product’, gave the client constant visibility, showing realtime progress of the new product, allowing for changes to be discussed and made during the project life-cycle.
With weekly releases the migration process was implemented at an early stage, allowing current data to be migrated into test systems for testing and verification.
A bespoke handbook migration tool was developed for the migration, converting HTML/CSS sites into the database, allowing future modification to be made from the new admin portal, using a Content Management Solution Approach.
The core product required a GUI based contract and clause management module, using WYSIWYG interfaces for editing and accordion UI design, with drag n drop to create clauses and sub-clauses.
Due to the nature of the data, security is always a major concern and was central to the design with multiple features ensuring data is encrypted both at rest and in transit, making sure the solution complies with GDPR and data protection requirements.
WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME?
The new solution went live in May 2018, running on a more resilient and secure environment. Because of the improved design and resilience of the new solution, many of the previous support tasks no longer required development, Meaning a huge improvement in customer service. SourceCloud has continued to work with HR:4UK focusing on making the solution ever more support free. Since going live, SourceCloud has continued developing the solution adding major features including Absence Management and improved workflow management.
WHAT TECHNOLOGY DID WE USE?
SourceCloud kept the database on Microsoft SQL Server, reducing some of the complexity due to a high number of other changes.
Now hosted in AWS on Multi-Availability Zone RDS solution, the service is fully managed and if needed can failover within a few seconds. The stateless Windows Web Servers are hosted on EC2 instances and auto-scaled on-demand, reducing costs to an absolute minimum, particularly in quiet times like overnight and at weekends, simply allowing scaling when demand dictates.
AWS KMS was implemented to ensure data within the database is encrypted as well as the underlying disk volumes.