Our talented consultants specialise in solving difficult technical and business problems.
Take a look at the case studies below for some examples of our consultancy work, or give us a call to find out how we can help you.
Serco is a FTSE 100 international diversified services company working on large public sector contracts in the UK and beyond. Softwire were commissioned by the Welfare to Work division of Serco to provide technical consultancy for their tender for a major contract in support of the Department of Work and Pensions’ Flexible New Deal initiative.
Softwire worked closely with Serco to produce a specification for a bespoke, web-based case management system. This would be used by Serco and their subcontractors to drive delivery of the services provided under the contract. There were many stakeholders and end users of the system, for example, managers in the government department, case workers in the organisations delivering the service and members of the public using the services. Each of these users had very different requirements and Softwire analysed these requirements in detail with Serco and the stakeholders and ensured that the specified functionality met them in full.
One of the key requirements of the system was to ensure both quality of service and that certain key contractual targets were met. Softwire mapped the key processes and workflows in consultation with Serco. We then identified how these could be translated into software that was both flexible and allowed users to exercise discretion, whilst simultaneously guaranteeing quality and enforcing contractual requirements.
The specification won praise from both the stakeholders and the development team building the system.
Telegraph Media GroupMore
Softwire designed and delivered an integrated planning, commissioning and payment system for Telegraph Media Group, significantly reducing the amount of manual work required by their staff. Our consultants and developers spent much of the project on-site with Telegraph users and stakeholders, resulting in a user-centric, easy-to-use system and a seamless transition.
Telegraph Media Group is one of the UK’s leading providers of printed and digital news content. At the point when they consulted Softwire, they were using disparate and incomplete systems for planning, commissioning and payment, resulting in a significant amount of manual work and making it difficult to extract vital reporting data.
Softwire worked closely with Telegraph Media staff during the consultancy phase to learn about existing system use and processes. We discussed options for revising these processes and the corresponding technical requirements with the Telegraph Media Group CTO and Technical Architect and agreed an architectural approach.
We then refined this architectural approach into a comprehensive technical specification for the final system. Based on this document, Telegraph Media Group engaged Softwire to develop the required system.
The development phase was conducted in an Agile manner, using a Scrum methodology. Softwire ran regular sessions with the end users, at which the latest release was demo-ed to the users, and users’ suggested corrections and enhancements collected. Softwire then liaised with the Telegraph Media Group Product Owner to decide development priorities, incorporating user feedback. This methodology allowed Softwire and Telegraph Media Group to adapt the software to meet emerging requirements and allow end user input into functional decisions.
The planning, commissioning and payment system was architected as a web application with a central web service accessed via the Windows WCF API. Technologies used included C# .NET 4.0, MVC 2, SQL Server 2008, Microsoft Entity Framework, Migrator.net and Microsoft Silverlight.
The web application was integrated with Telegraph Media Group’s existing publishing systems, via a web services interface. The system was tested via continuous unit testing and end of sprint system testing.
The end result was a well-featured, robust, flexible and extensible product, produced on time and within budget. Telegraph Media Group have now engaged Softwire for a second phase to extend the original system.
Companies House commissioned a technical review from Softwire to make certain that their new architectural design was able to meet ongoing business needs.
Companies House (CH) is the body responsible for registration of UK companies and filing of required company details. In 2013, CH engaged Softwire’s consultants to provide a second opinion on a planned architectural upgrade for CH’s company search and filing systems.
The systems provide a public-facing interface for searching company records and for filing documents for all UK companies. As part of a planned upgrade CH wanted to unify their existing systems and move them to a more modern, scalable architecture, better able to support their future needs.
Softwire supplied one of our senior technical consultants to review, assess and validate CH’s proposed architecture and make recommendations for improvement. Our consultant went on site at Companies House in Cardiff to interview key stakeholders and subsequently produced a detailed report on the architecture and technologies proposed.
We’re pleased to say that our report proved that CH’s architecture and technology choices were sound, and that we were able to provide useful advice on the best way of implementing those choices – both technically and managerially. We wish Companies House every success with their ambitious redevelopment and look forward to working with them again in future.
Metaswitch - Metaswitch NetworksMore
Metaswitch Networks commissioned Softwire to commence a large software development programme consisting of multiple telecoms systems required to work at scale and with extremely high uptimes. As well as management of our development teams, we have taken on increasingly significant management roles within the programme, overseeing a diverse team of up to fifty people spread across multiple locations and organisations, including Metaswitch itself.
As well as a number of management challenges, there were also significant architectural challenges to meet in the systems being delivered, for example: very high uptime requirements (99.999%), seamlessly rolling out the systems to many millions of users with no service disruption and sub-second downtime, dealing with message flows and call volumes in the millions per day, horizontal scalability to support subscriber and usage growth and deployment to multiple data centres.
We designed and built the system with Scala (and Akka), with Cassandra as a distributed data layer (on the cloud).
We chose to use Scala and Akka due to Akka’s actor-based architecture being particularly suitable for message flow. Cassandra was a natural choice for dealing with large data volumes distributed across multiple data centres in a cost-effective manner. The system was designed from the ground up to scale to handle billions of messages per day.
Working at this scale requires a well-conceived test strategy – a one in a million bug will happen many times a day. We made very extensive use of automated testing / QA both at the unit and functional levels, and supplemented this with manual testing. We also invested significant effort in test and development infrastructure, running a simulated data centre with tens of virtual servers.
We assigned a team member in a full-time “dev-ops” role to manage this infrastructure which paid dividends in terms of developer productivity.
Softwire successfully delivered the project to Metaswitch and several components are already live with the end client. We have effectively managed the challenges created by the development programme, notably successfully coordinating the activities of a wide range of teams from a variety of company cultures and rolling out management best practice throughout the programme.
We have also efficiently structured the programme to allow multiple distinct work streams, managed Metaswitch’s overseas client to effectively extract requirements and identify key risks and ramp up from a standing start to a large team in a time efficient manner.
The reuse of technologies from a past Metaswitch project and integration with Metaswitch’s existing voicemail product provides a cost-effective solution with new high-performance cloud native functionality.
Metaswitch are very pleased with the results of the project, and Softwire’s ability to deliver both on time and on budget.