Our customer had through acquisition acquired several back-office processing systems which whilst they all worked relatively well as individual solutions as a whole, were inefficient and outdated in terms of the user experience. The data models, each operated under, we're all different resulting in extensive work in consolidating the various data into effective analysis reporting, which consequently would result in an inability for the business to make quick and meaningful business decisions. The solutions also were built on legacy technology which did not take advantage of modern-day cloud services.
After an evaluation and discovery phase, our team unearthed that the customer only used a percentage of the functionality of the individual systems and there were many separate processes being carried out by teams to fulfil the final task requirements. A project was initiated that would build a bespoke solution built on AWS (Amazon Web Services) components, architecturally adopting a Microservices approach so as business services and processes were decoupled and could be scaled and developed further in isolation to other services. XPS adopted agile methods when advancing the digital transformation of the customer.
The project entailed a multi-year transformation addressing several paradigm shifts simultaneously, including agile software development, DevOps and design thinking. XPS designed a project structure for each stream of works and used modern infrastructure and cloud tools (Confluence) to develop a feedback-focused environment that enabled us to swiftly respond to any new requirements.
The project initially started with small steps to introduce new ways of working as well as new decoupled technology solutions that resulted in further buy-in of the internal stakeholders and end-users.
The ecosystem focused architecture based on microservices was stringently tested via a couple of lower-risk internal projects, after successful adoption our team scaled up to increase the productivity of the other workstreams.
A shift towards design thinking was supported by several catalysts:
- Process simplification – reducing the complexity and duplication of tasks, which allowed greater automation of simpler processes.
- A shift of focus away from a project to creating an efficient and highly usable solution.
- Using speed as a strategic advantage, e.g. implemented requirements promptly into the solution through continuous delivery.
- Questioned existing rules and processes and to learn from mistakes and feedback.
Elements of our strategy included:
- Use of free and open-source software.
- Cloud-based operation that enabled DevOps implementation.
- Microservices based architecture creating elasticity and extended reach via APIs.
- Best practice security standards (DevSecOps).
The project whilst having initial challenges specifically in adopting new ways of working, by demonstrating early quick wins and taking small steps and scaling up the internal stakeholders soon became fully absorbed in the end goals and objectives.
Key outcomes included:
- Increased focus on core business goals and people skills.
- 25% reduction in server and data-centre costs.
- 80% increase in efficiency of releasing data (APIs).
- Increase speed to market for new products and services.
- A new robust, modern, and reliable infrastructure for ever-expanding requirements.
- Decrease in costs to allow for investment in growth areas.
- Empowered employees with innovative technology and processes.