Digital transformation

Competitive Edge
Competitive Edge 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Don't Let Your Systems Hold You Back

Bespoke Software Systems, Data Visualisation or Support and Integration, we’ve worked with some prestigious organisations. Why do they like us so much? Because we work tirelessly to make sure we deliver to their needs, on time and on budget.

Ask these, and many more, organisations how Software Solved helped them to gain a competitive edge. Talk to us about how we can help you build an advantage.

Aviva logo
The National Trust
HSF Health Plan
AXA Logo
Save the Children
RSA Logo
Electralink
The Salvation Army

Call us today on 01392 453344 or email us on hello@softwaresolved.com to book a free no obligation consultation with us for your next software or data project. Or even just to benchmark us against your current suppliers. Or fill in the form below, hit send and one of our helpful people will be in touch very shortly.

How Software Solved can help

Software Solved works with organisations of all shapes and sizes to build bespoke customer and employee-facing apps to transform service, boost efficiency and speed up decision-making.

IWD Logo
International Women’s Day – Women in IT
International Women’s Day – Women in IT 732 211 Simon Hollingworth

In celebration of International Women’s Day, at Software Solved we decided to ask some of our women what it was like to pursue a career in an industry very stereotyped as a male vocation. Our policy is one of always employ the best people for the job which is why we have exceptional staff both female and male. We felt, on this day, of all days, you’d want to hear from some of our excellent women how a career in IT is for everyone.

Bethan David – Project Manager

Bethan David Project Manager Software Solved1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I wasn’t sure but I knew I wanted to do something I really enjoyed and that I wanted to manage people! Is that odd? I hope not.

2. What made you choose IT as a career?

I enjoyed IT and Computing in school, so carried it onto my degree. It was always interesting and I knew there were job prospects, especially for women.

3. What challenges have you faced as a woman in IT?

Doing a degree in Computer Science and being one of only four girls on the course, I was surrounded by men. Most of them found it hard to even talk to or work with girls! Group work was difficult. Making friends on my course was hard. I certainly learnt to work things out on my own.

4. What do you love about your job?

Working with different clients on different projects and with different people at Software Solved. And I have to admit, I do enjoy getting to ‘boss’ the project team around! No two projects are the same and I love that. Learning from one, taking that into the next, new challenges and lessons to be learned.

5. What advice would you give girls/young women thinking about a career in IT?

Do it, and don’t be put off by the stereotypes that surround IT – like the type of people who do IT or that it’s mainly men. Things are changing fast!

6. To encourage more diversity, what would be the one thing you would change in the I.T. industry?

The stereotypes surrounding the IT industry. There’s a big stereotype that people working in IT are just weird, sat in a dark room coding and that is all they are interested in. Whereas that so isn’t the case! There are a range of different people with different interests and hobbies. There are loads of interesting people AND there are girls in IT!

Lindsay Lucas – Director of Operations

Lindsay Lucas Software Solved1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A vet, Formula 1 engineer or racing driver. My love of cars and animals has stayed with me and I studied engineering at bachelor and masters level. But it was exceptionally hard to gain employment in the engineering sector as a female engineer. It was a very different landscape back then and I was definitely in the minority.

2. What made you choose IT as a career?

I sort of fell into it. After many knock backs from the engineering roles I desperately wanted, I still needed to pay the bills, so I went temping. My first temping role was with a local internet provider for a week and they offered me a permanent job. I will be forever grateful to those who recognised me and promoted me through that company. I worked in customer service, sales, as an office manager, PA to 3 directors and then Technical Project Manager. As a grounding on how businesses really work, it was invaluable and I was lucky enough to work with some amazing mentors.

3. What challenges have you faced as a woman in IT?

Compared to the challenges within the engineering sector, any challenges in IT have been relatively insignificant. You do still occasionally meet the odd misogynist who would rather hear what your male colleague has to say, but that is very rare these days and they are a dying breed. On the whole, IT is a very progressive environment, certainly in software development and I have never heard any of our female developers or colleagues complaining about their male counterparts., it really is one big team working towards a common goal. We’re seeing more and more women at the top in the tech industry these days and I think that’s more about external stigmas being removed from women who want to pursue a career as well as have a family. There is so much support available and so much good quality childcare with business friendly hours, that it’s no longer such an issue.

4. What do you love about your job?

The variety. No one day is the same. I also have an amazing team that I enjoy working with and great clients too. Working within a software development environment you are at the forefront of changing technology, solving real life issues and I always enjoy seeing a project go live.

5. What advice would you give girls/young women thinking about a career in IT?

Do it! It’s a great career with so many opportunities open to you. You don’t have to be technical to get involved and find a really rewarding career within an industry that is not being left in the Dark Ages!

6. To encourage more diversity, what would be the one thing you would change in the I.T. industry?

The diversity is there now. But from my perspective, I don’t see the CVs coming through from so many women in deeply technical roles, which tells me that there aren’t enough women studying technical disciplines at university. This is why it is so important to support initiatives to make it more accessible to women. I’m proud that we have a really diverse team at Software Solved, with women in technical and non-technical roles and we definitely have an ethos of gender neutral recruitment. It has to be the right person for the role, nothing more complicated than that.

Josie Walledge – Lead Project Manager

Josie Walledge Software Solved1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?

From when I was very young, I wanted to be a doctor but life took me down a different path!

2. What made you choose IT as a career?

IT chose me! I loved messing around with my ZX81 and ZX Spectrum when I was younger (ok, that ages me) but never saw IT as being something you could do for a living. I discovered the power of the Internet while I was at University in the early ‘90s and then, while working at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, I found that technology was starting to transform the way we stored and shared information. This led me to doing a Masters degree in Information Science. After a brief interlude teaching librarians how to use digital resources, a chance encounter in a pub landed me a job with a global tech company, where I stayed for 20 years!

3. What challenges have you faced as a woman in IT?

For many years I was the only woman working in a team of men who were mostly a lot older than me. While I never faced the low-level sexual harassment that I know many women put up with in male-dominated workplaces, I did miss the company of other women and – more importantly – found that my career progression was severely limited after having children. My employer was of the view that, as I worked part time and largely from home, moving into a more senior role wasn’t an option for me. This led me to significantly undervalue my skills and experience, and I found it very difficult to find the confidence to go out into the job market again.

4. What do you love about your job?

After many years working in a large multinational where one can feel rather faceless, it is an absolute joy to be part of a small, dynamic and diverse team where each person is truly valued, supported and respected. As an IT Project Manager, no two days are ever the same and I love the constant challenge of solving problems in a collaborative environment. Even in a management role, there are always opportunities to learn about new technologies and to develop new ways of working as the industry evolves so rapidly. I also enjoy getting out to meet clients, helping them to deliver business change through technology.

5. What advice would you give girls/young women thinking about a career in IT?

Go for it! Don’t be put off by gender stereotyping but instead let yourself be driven by what you love and what you are good at. Also, don’t limit your imagination to the careers that are available in today’s job market. The pace of change, particularly in technology, is lightning fast so it’s better to focus on developing the skills and knowledge that really interest you and to keep your mind open to what the future might bring.

6. To encourage more diversity, what would be the one thing you would change in the I.T. industry?

For several years, I ran a Code Club for Year 5 and 6 children. To begin with, it was all boys but over time we worked to attract more girls and, by the time I left, we had as many girls as boys. (Guess what: the girls were every bit as good as the boys!) This demonstrates that the key to addressing the gender gap in Stem subjects, and IT in particular, is education. Schools and colleges need to do more to break down the conventional stereotypes, perhaps by bringing female role models in to inspire girls from an early age. The industry also needs to do more to raise awareness of opportunities for women in tech.

If you would like to know more about careers in the Software and IT industries, or even if you’d like to have amazing people like ours working on your next software project, contact us at hello@softwaresolved.com or call 01392 453344

 

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Contact
Contact 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Greater Access to Data and a Better User Experience

Operating hand in hand with you, we develop unique solutions, within pre-agreed budgets, delivered with speed and integrity and to award-winning standards of quality.

Call us on 01392 453344 or email us on hello@softwaresolved.com to book a free no obligation consultation with us for your next software or data project. Or even just to benchmark us against your current suppliers. Or fill in the form below, hit send and one of our helpful people will be in touch very shortly.

We've successfully helped these, and many more, organisations gain a competitive edge. Talk to us about how we can help you build an advantage.

Save the Children
RSA Logo
Electralink
The Salvation Army
Aviva logo
The National Trust
HSF Health Plan
AXA Logo

How Software Solved can help

Software Solved works with organisations of all shapes and sizes to build bespoke customer and employee-facing apps to transform service, boost efficiency and speed up decision-making.

Get Ready for the Data Revolution
Get Ready for the Data Revolution 855 590 Simon Hollingworth

Real-time data transforms lives. It allows people to make decisions based on reality. And it allows organisations to be more effective and efficient in everything they do.

When it comes to some of the most vital services in society – social care, education, bin collections, looking after the vulnerable – we are still not realising the true potential of data. Although a new study carried out by Software Solved highlights this very fact, I do believe we are on the verge of a real-time data revolution across local government.

We surveyed 38 unitary, city, county and district councils across England and the findings are revealing. You can get your copy of the Local Government Data Revolution Report here https://www.softwaresolved.com/localgovdata

The survey, as covered by media including Local Gov News shows that 92% of councils say that it is important or very important to running improved, cost-effective, services, though just 19% admit that they are effective at using their data.

And in spite of disparate IT systems, departmental silos, lack of skills and tools being seen as barriers, 95% of local authorities have started or plan to invest in data visualisation in the next 12-18 months.

 

 

Change is happening, with 97% of local authorities recognising that improved data visualisation tools will be of value to their council, yet only 19% of councils feeling that they can easily access the data they hold today.

For many years the technology simply did not exist in a format that could readily be used by non-IT experts and internal barriers, such as departmental silos or the lack of skills and tools to make a real impact, were seen as too tough to tackle.

But data visualisation tools like Microsoft Power BI are now affordable, easy to use and incredibly powerful and you no longer need to be an expert in data and the outcome can be incredibly exciting – making real-time informed decisions becomes the new reality.

Working with the right partners there is now a way to harvest existing data, set up robust data warehousing and use simple data visualisation tools so that real-time data use becomes the norm rather than the exception.

The likes of Camden Council, Lancashire County Council, Leicestershire, Doncaster, South Hams and West Devon District Councils are shaping services, shifting resources, achieving savings to move towards a more democratic, informed, accurate and cost-effective way of running public services.

How GDPR Can Drive Your Digital Transformation Plans
How GDPR Can Drive Your Digital Transformation Plans 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

By now you know that GDPR is coming in less than 12 months, and with it the eye-watering fines for those organisations found to be in breach of it. If not, our blog ‘What is GDPR?’ should help.

Let’s start off by saying GDPR is non-negotiable. It will impact organisations of every shape and size as every organisation uses data to a lesser or greater extent. When organisations can embrace GDPR, and what’s required to ready themselves, rather than fear it, they can use GDPR to their advantage.

How does GDPR link to Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is the process of an organisation embracing new technology to make itself and its processes more efficient. It will not be news to any of you that plans and initiatives run far better when they have a goal or target in mind. Here’s the crux: use the upcoming GDPR regulation as an organisational objective, and tie your digital transformation directly to that.

If you’d like to know more, read our blog ‘What is a Digital Transformation?’

Let’s go into a bit more detail. There are several talking points in GDPR (we won’t go into them all here), one of which is data availability. I.e. a customer or user can request to see what data your organisation holds on them. All organisations have a duty to provide this. The thought of having to collate data about one individual that could potentially exist across four or five disparate systems is probably nightmare inducing. Here’s where Digital Transformation comes in. A robust digital strategy will include plans for system integration and getting a single-view of data. An organisation who has well integrated systems that communicate readily, and has eradicated data siloes is far better placed to deal with these requests – as a result of their Digital Transformation work.

Why GDPR should drive your Digital Transformation

GDPR is, quite naturally, a scary proposition for many, and for others, a boring tick-box exercise. It doesn’t have to be either. Instead try to think of it as an opportunity to get ahead of the game, and ahead of your competitors. The right blend of technology and improvements in business processes is critical to regulatory (GDPR) and Digital Transformation success.

Fully automated and transparent processes will help you improve data availability, integrity and security – all of which are central to being GDPR compliant. Using that objective (becoming GDPR compliant) as a catalyst to update old and clunky systems or processes will give your organisation the upper-hand over competitors at the same time as improving your user and customer experience – win-wins all round.

GDPR is definitely coming, and the punitive fines will definitely be eye-watering – but it doesn’t have to be scary. Think of it as a golden opportunity to kickstart those Digital Transformation plans that have taken a back burner.

If you’re ready to use GDPR as a catalyst for your Digital Transformation plans, talk to us today.

Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference
Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference

On Friday 12th May Software Solved will be exhibiting, and speaking, at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference at the America Square Conference Centre in London. The conference is an opportunity for people in the charity sector to see the ways in which technology can transform their fundraising efforts. We are extremely excited to sponsor this conference, and for our Managing Director Anthony Peake, to be speaking.

The importance of digital strategy & transformation

A robust digital strategy has the potential to transform the way the charity sector works – including the ways in which they raise funds. From working with our charity partners we know that tight budgets mean that any digital projects have to really be worth it. That’s exactly why we’re so excited about digital transformation. Done well, with a software partner who understands your organisation, the results can be dramatic.

Digital transformation is more than just technology

A thorough digital strategy will encompass all aspects of your organisation. From people and processes, through to data and, yes, technology. This transformation process should involve your users and your people at every stage of the process to make sure you are continually refining and redefining the final outcome. Not only will this make the final result more effective, but you’ll have excited and inspired your users too.

System integration is key

A lack of system integration can cause all sorts of problems, prime amongst them is that the quality of your data is inevitably compromised through repeated manual entry. Besides this, it also makes processes a lot more drawn out and unnecessarily complex for you and your users. Ultimately, a high level of system integration will help to eliminate inefficiency and duplication from your workflows.

Visualise the bigger data picture

With only one year left until GDPR the onus is on organisations, charities especially, to link up, clean up and look after their data better. This doesn’t mean locking it away so no one can see it and make use of it though. Gaining meaningful insights from your data is central to any digital strategy – after all, most charities rely on it for some form of fundraising at the very least. Effective data visualisation has the power give you the right information at the right time and in the right format.

We’ll be at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference this week talking to charities about their digital strategies. If you want more insights on digital transformation in the charity sector, come and see us, or even better, go to the seminar Anthony will be speaking at. It starts at 12:50pm – don’t be late!

If you won’t be at the conference but you’d still like to find out more about what digital transformation can do for you, talk to us today.

Alternatively, you can download our white paper on digital transformation in the charity sector here.

Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference
Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference

This Thursday the 27th of April Software Solved will be at the Engaging Digital Comms conference at the Museum of London. The conference is a chance for people in the charity and public sector to gain some new insights from the industry about the ways in which digital can transform their communications and wider strategies. We are delighted to be a sponsor of the event, helping charities and the public sector transform the way they work through digital transformation.

Digital strategy & transformation in the charity and public sector

We’re passionate about digital transformation, especially in the charity and public sector where tight budgets mean extracting maximum value from resources is key. A comprehensive digital strategy covers several areas – that’s why we call it transformation. We’ll take a look at these areas now.

System Integration

Many of the charities and public sector organisations we work with have a variety of different systems, built at different times and updated at different rates. This can lead to all sorts of issues, making processes far more complicated than they need to be – costing organisations valuable time and money. Getting your systems to talk, or system integration, makes processes simpler, smoother and more efficient. If your organisation has unwieldy spreadsheets used to transfer data from one system to another, system integration is ideal for you.

Data visualisation

We know from working with our clients that their data is central to the way they work, especially when it comes to things like fundraising and engaging stakeholders. Most organisations have no shortage of data, but getting a handle on it and being able to use it effectively can be a problem. Centralising, and effectively visualising data can lead to more accurate and more efficient decisions.

Mobile and remote working

Part of an effective digital strategy is engaging your users. Whether this is to drive fundraising, raise awareness, or allow your staff to work better will be down to how your organisation works. The link between them is that all of them can be achieved through the use of mobile apps and remote working. Giving your users, stakeholders or staff access to their systems, in a way that is intuitive and easy to use, no matter where they are in the world will immediately make them more productive and increase their engagement.

User journeys

Transforming user journeys is all about making websites, portals and systems intuitive and easy to use. It’s critical to make sure that information is easy to find i.e. it’s where people think it should be. User experience (UX) is a buzzword in the industry right now, and so it should be. But improving user journeys doesn’t necessarily mean a complete system overhaul, a few clever tweaks here and there can make all the difference.

Everybody would like to work more efficiently, with better tools, and digital transformation facilitates this. If you’re at the Engaging Digital Comms conference this week, come and see us to talk about your digital strategy.

If not, but you’d still like to know more about what digital transformation can do for you, talk to us today.

Why the public sector needs to wake up to the issue of legacy technology
Why the public sector needs to wake up to the issue of legacy technology 150 150 Kindy Mann

The public sector is one of the few remaining where the old mantra of a ‘job for life’ still persists. This however has seen the issue of legacy systems become more predominant in the past couple of years.

A legacy system is one that is not considered ‘internet ready’ or no longer meets the requirements of a business. The problems of legacy systems are rooted in the skill gaps that arise when those who implement the original code come to the end of their career and take their expertise with them.

Additionally, in today’s environment where we live and breathe technology, finding replacements for this expertise is becoming increasingly difficult. Developers want to be at the cutting edge of technology and understandably, don’t want to look back and learn archaic code and the systems can fall into disarray.

The risks of unmanaged legacy systems in the public sector

Maintenance and updates to legacy systems should not slip to the bottom of the to do list. There are multiple options available to help bring your systems up to scratch, including decommission, re-writes and integration.

Re-writing a system can be seen as a daunting and unachievable solution to the public sector due to tight budgets and skill shortages. It also carriers the risk that if your in-house expert has left, you can never be 100{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} sure that every aspect of the system has been covered by the new solution. This can lead to:

  • Performance issues
  • Irrelevant functionality
  • Poor user experience
  • Security risks
  • Loss of data

‘Window dressing’ systems is not enough

In the new age of digital, customers expect intuitive systems as the norm. Despite the strains of legacy systems on in-house teams, some public sector bodies have started responding to customer expectations by making websites and customer portals intuitive and easy to use.

However, this only solves half the problem, Digital Transformation is a journey and one that takes a universal look at all your IT systems and processes. There’s no doubt that while customer experience (CX) is high on the agenda, without resolving the back-end technology these portals link to, something will give eventually. Simply updating the customer-facing end of a system and not addressing underlying issues opens organisations up to the risk of poor system integration and data management, which can lead to inefficiency and higher costs.

Talk to us to discover how we can help your organisation overcome the issues of legacy systems.

Top tips to develop your digital transformation strategy
Top tips to develop your digital transformation strategy 150 150 Graham Douglas

In our recent report looking at charities and digital technology, we discovered that whilst charities recognise the need and potential of adopting technology, it remains underused across the sector as a whole. In our experience, it is clear that there are several barriers that all companies face including skills gaps, limited budgets and finding the expertise they need to get their digital transformation plans in place.

A digital strategy can help your business eradicate inefficiencies and update requirements within your IT systems and business processes. As a result, a robust digital strategy can create a more efficient, flexible organisation that is able to offer a better service to their customers. Here are some top tips you can utilise right now to start grasping the potential of your technology.

Run an audit of your IT systems

We would always suggest before you make any changes to your technology, that you take a look at the tools you are currently using. By running an audit, you are able to see:

  • Bottlenecks and manual processes within current system
  • Recommendations on how the system can be enhanced and made more efficient
  • Incorrect uses of the system
  • Security gaps
  • Future stability and performance of the system

A user journey audit

In a recent blog, we looked at how user expectations have changed, and the importance user experience plays in any digital transformation project. In order to get the maximum value from your systems you need to make sure you are keeping both your customers and staff happy.

Some requirements gathering on your user personas and user journeys is a good place to start with this. Some of the questions you need to ask include: Can they do what the need to, and quickly? Is information available across different devices? Are your websites and portals responsive and mobile ready?

Perform a data audit

The big question you need to ask yourself is can you make sense of your data? You can answer this question by following a quick three step process:

1 – Find out where your data is being stored.

2 – Who is using it and what are they using it for.

3 – Can your data be easily transferred between systems.

At the end of this process you will be able to establish if your data needs to be centralised or integrated to make access to your data easier. And whether dashboards and reports are needed to make access to analyse and produce insights. Ultimately, getting data in the right place, in the right format for analysis, is key.

By following these three key audits, you will discover how healthy your IT systems are and where improvements might be needed to ensure you are getting the best returns and your users are getting the best experience.

To discover more about the benefits of digital transformation and how it could help your business, get in touch today.

How UX design drives digital transformation
How UX design drives digital transformation 150 150 Kindy Mann

We recently looked at what digital transformation is and how in today’s growing competitive market, consumers demand speed and simplicity in all aspects of technology. However, technology is only one part of digital transformation, user experience is what should be at the heart of your decisions, and it is this that will be the catalyst to a successful digital transformation project.

The importance of user experience

A good user experience (UX) is critical to the success and survival of any brand, after all, if your systems don’t look great and function seamlessly, your customers and staff aren’t going to want to use them. A bad UX can lead to inconsistencies and damage your reputation if users are unable to perform tasks easily and quickly. Longer term, poor UX results in rising costs within your working practices as well as see customers look to your competitors.

A great user experience (UX) needs to focus on making it easier for staff to work and customers to do business with you. In order to achieve a good UX, you need to ensure you are meeting user expectations.

These expectations cover a multitude of channels and user touchpoints for example:

  • Gathering information on your website / making a purchase
  • Submitting an enquiry
  • Using a business application
  • Accessing a customer portal
  • Updating records

These examples show that digital transformation is about so much more that just ‘digitalising’ your systems. Advances in cloud, mobile and data solutions present huge opportunities for businesses to -‘re-innovate’ systems and processes to reflect the way users engage with their business, which is where ‘or ‘design-first’ comes into the equation.

What is a ‘Design-first approach?

‘Design First’ is a shift in focus across your organisation, requiring every department to make the user experience the best it can be. This shift is not just about making everything ‘digital’, it also involves consideration of user journeys, devices they use, emotions and how users feel. It is a human centred approach to innovation, which puts people at the heart of your end-to-end business activity.

A successful adoption of a design-led strategy will lead to companies functioning in an agile, collaborative and empathetic way. This focus on the user and their objectives ultimately makes processes more efficient and reduces costs. Going through a logical approach to digital transformation based on UX will help identify areas where you can consolidate data, integrate systems, enhance websites and streamline processes.

A successful digital transformation

It is key that prior to rolling out any changes, you identify the needs of users. These needs can be defined through user workshops and rapid prototyping, which allows you to test the functionality of a system and provide an opportunity to get users engaged from the outset.

A successful digital transformation project needs to be focussed across your entire organisation, and is a universal view of all your working practices. Making sure UX is your top priority doesn’t have to be done at once. Consider taking a piecemeal approach to transformation. By taking parts of your business, one bit at a time, and addressing UX as you go, you can ensure that you are managing change within budget and on time.

For further guidance on digital transformation strategy or UX workshops talk to us today.