Exceptional bespoke software solutions.
Softwire is a privately owned software development company based in the UK. We are specialists in the delivery of software consultancy and bespoke, custom-built software solutions, working with some of the UK's leading brands.
Softwire focuses on providing an exceptional level of service to a manageable number of customers. Our commitment to customer satisfaction is second to none.
The BBC, David Lloyd Clubs, RSA, The Cabinet Office, Channel 5, Elexon, PRMA
- GOV.UK Platform as a Service (PaaS)
The UK Government-endorsed Simple Energy Advice service aims to give people tailored suggestions on how to increase the energy efficiency of their homes. The goal is to encourage individuals to make improvements that help the country meet its low-carbon targets. A successful Softwire alpha phase had identified the need to replace an existing call-centre-only service with a digitally-led self-service version. We had also shown what form the new service should take. The Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) selected Softwire to deliver the beta phase, which included building the service and producing all the necessary content. This was a high-profile, public-facing project. As well as being on the agenda of BEIS ministers, it was to be widely publicised during the first-ever Green Great Britain Week in 2018. It was therefore essential we delivered on-time and that the service was robust.
Continual user testing shaped a service that was both easy to use and engaging, while rigorous load testing ensured it would remain available under the expected usage volumes.
Extensive user testing
As we had during alpha, we ran weekly user testing sessions. These included facilitated lab testing in different UK regions, as well as remote sessions where target users were sent tasks to complete in their own time. This blend ensured we got as representative and realistic a view as possible from our wide target audience. We launched an early private beta that ramped up to 1,000 users, enabling us to gather detailed analytics data on how people were using the website. With much of the service based around a series of questions people fill in to get their tailored advice, the user testing and analytics enabled us to identify which questions were slowing people down. Our content designers spent time refining and re-testing these, to make it easier for people to get their tailored suggestions.
Engaging video content
Our user testing also identified a desire for video content in certain places, so we oversaw the creation of clips to complement the other content on the site and make the messaging more engaging.
Ease of maintenance
To keep up with ever-changing energy legislation, we designed the website to be easy to update. The majority of content is editable through a content management system (CMS), which BEIS’s own team can use.
Robust load testing
We needed to ensure this high-profile service would deliver under the anticipated user volumes, particularly with media interest expected to be high. We used various cloud platform features to enable scaling, designed-in other best practices to create a genuinely robust platform and load-tested the service to ensure it would perform.
Assisted digital support
Lastly, having identified the need for assisted digital support in the shape of a small contact centre, we built in the ability to transfer customers’ journeys from the website to the contact centre operator if required. We also provided BEIS with guidance on expected call volumes and the level of training the operators would need, so they could recruit and train an appropriate number of staff.
The new service sees user numbers double compared to its predecessor, with a significant proportion of site visitors completing the full journey to receive their tailored energy-saving advice.
Following the successful private beta, the public beta went live on-schedule ahead of Green Great Britain Week, meaning BEIS was able to close the legacy contact centre and replace it with the lower-cost alternative we specified. In its first few months, usage of the digitally-led service has shown an upward trend, with twice as many people now accessing it every month as were using the call-centre-only service. Moreover, the average time people spend on the site is more than sufficient for someone to answer the questions and review the suggestions. And with 25% of all site visitors completing the full questionnaire and receiving their tailored advice, the service is delivering an impressive conversion rate, thereby meeting its goal of ensuring an ever-greater number of people benefit from bespoke energy-saving advice.
Softwire is now providing ongoing support for the Simple Energy Advice service.
Softwire quickly turns around important enhancements to legacy codebase, to enable newspaper publisher to streamline printing.
The customer and requirement
Telegraph Media Group (TMG) is one of the largest providers of news in the UK. Its printed newspapers are an important part of its business.
To optimise the efficiency of its newspaper print-runs, TMG needed to enhance a key application that controls the printing presses. This would enable it to automate tasks its people were having to do manually. The potential savings involved meant TMG was keen for the project to be completed as soon as possible. The work demanded high-calibre software engineers, able to quickly get to grips with and make changes to a complex legacy codebase.
Having assessed the requirements, we identified that this needed a single software engineer to work closely with the customer’s product owner. Our engineer was supported by colleagues in Softwire who provided light-touch customer relationship management and technical oversight.Within two weeks of TMG approaching us, we started work, and delivered the enhancements after a further 20 days.
After this point, our engineer worked with TMG’s testing team, providing support and delivering bug fixes on an ad hoc basis. The customer has since signed off the work, and at the time of writing is in the process of final implementation with its printing press partner.
- Microsoft Azure
Zurich UK required strategic data engineering support to enable it to establish a best-in-class Data Architecture and Analytics function.
Zurich is one of the largest insurance companies in the world, providing a range of products to individuals, businesses and the public sector.
In 2017, the firm set up a dedicated Data Architecture and Analytics (DAA) function. Its remit is to bring together consistent and accurate data from across the organisation’s many source systems and present this to the business in ways that aid reporting and front-line operations.
Softwire was brought in as a strategic data engineering partner to accelerate the establishment of the DAA function. The aims were twofold: deliver a variety of strategic technical projects, and help the firm grow and upskill its in-house data engineering capability to a point where it was self-sufficient.
Softwire delivered a number of important data engineering projects, which included helping Zurich recruit the right in-house team, as well as implementing ways of working designed to help the Data Architecture and Analytics function respond effectively to business requirements.
Zurich established a strategic, firm-wide data warehouse, which brought together information from a large number of source systems. For the benefits of this consolidated view to be felt across the business, they needed an easy way to get this data in front of the right people at the right time.
Building a self-sufficient team
In parallel, we supported our client to build their in-house team from 3 FTE to more than 35. Will Davis, Data Development Lead at Zurich, explains:
“Softwire helped us understand the level of skills and technical background we required to create a best-in-class data engineering capability. Their team also established and upskilled us in the best ways of working, and the broader technologies we required to run and maintain our large estate of data solutions and code. Central among this was getting us a lot closer to DevOps-style continuous deployment of our code. This is particularly challenging to achieve in the data engineering space, given the number of moving parts.”
Zurich now has a self-sufficient data engineering function, equipped with tools and processes that are enabling it to deliver tangible value to the business.
A fully capable in-house data engineering function, skilled in best practices around continuous deployment and integration and equipped with easily maintainable, best-in-class tooling to deliver insights to the business in a responsive way.
Faster customer service
The benefits are already being felt. Their first-line contact centre is using our web portal to route customer enquiries significantly more quickly. Where this could previously take up to 30 minutes per enquiry, the new tooling has reduced this to as little as a few minutes.
Optimisation work is continual, as the team produce and upgrade the data warehouse infrastructure to support wider operational use.
“Best-in-class specialist partner”
Davis concludes by reflecting on the impact Softwire has had: “To help us establish the Data Architecture and Analytics function, we wanted to work with – and learn from – best-in-class specialist partners. This is why we chose Softwire.
What’s stood out about Softwire is the way they have genuinely bought into helping us improve our team and ways of working. It was obvious that alongside their work to deliver the various data engineering projects, they were committed to helping us achieve self-sufficiency.
“This meant when we took over full responsibility, the transition was completely seamless, and we can now confidently deliver ever-increasing value to the business.”
As David Lloyd’s business success and expansion continued, we embarked together on an ambitious digital transformation programme.
- Knockout framework
- Zend framwork
David Lloyd Clubs is Europe’s premier health, racquets and fitness provider, with more than 100 clubs, 570,000 members and an 8,600-strong workforce. It runs more than 13,000 exercise classes every week and operates 1,400 tennis, squash and badminton courts.
With club and customer numbers growing fast, David Lloyd wanted to enhance the members’ experience, improve its understanding of how people were using the facilities, and reduce costs. This required an ambitious digital transformation programme that would touch every aspect of its business, creating a whole new suite of digital capabilities and significantly upgrading many of its existing systems.
An award-winning start
We first got involved when David Lloyd brought us in to complete its new online court and exercise-class booking system. This was such a success that it then asked us to deliver the next phase: the mobile booking apps. These too, were enormously popular with members: 85% of class bookings are now done via the apps. The app also won gold in the Leisure category at the UK [app] design awards.
Expanding our role with a full web replatforming and rebrand
Attention then turned to David Lloyd’s website. As part of its growth strategy, the business had a major prime-time television advertising campaign scheduled during the X Factor. This would encourage millions of viewers to visit the site.
In preparation, David Lloyd wanted to refresh the branding and bolster the site’s foundations, to ensure it continued to perform well under the unprecedented loads it was about to experience.
As we had built the booking system and mobile apps to successfully handle large peaks of traffic, we were asked to rebuild the websites for David Lloyd’s UK and European brands. This involved a major technology replatforming, as well as a new user interface, which we worked on with David Lloyd’s design agency. Rigorous testing gave David Lloyd the confidence the new sites would perform when the advertising campaign aired, which they duly did.
Digital transformation partner
Having delivered three flagship projects for David Lloyd, we were now firmly established as its go-to digital transformation partner. And we kicked on from there, working strategically with its both in-house digital team and management to help shape the right portfolio of digital capabilities to support its growing business.
We delivered new, integrated applications to replace paper- or spreadsheet-based processes. We built the tools to enable David Lloyd to personalise its customer experiences and help people get the most out of their memberships. We transformed many of the systems used by David Lloyd’s employees. And as the business grew, our analytics forecasts helped it plan ahead to ensure its digital infrastructure would continue to deliver the premium experiences associated with the David Lloyd brand. With the loads on some systems growing by as much as 50% year-on-year, future-proofing in this way is essential.
Better customer experiences and other benefits
David Lloyd’s digital transformation is already bearing fruit. First and foremost, it’s enabling better customer experiences whenever a member interacts with David Lloyd. The new website, booking system and mobile apps provide the convenience of self-service, and also mean reception staff spend much less time handling booking requests. Consequently, they’re able to focus more on providing excellent customer service. Meanwhile, the personalisation capabilities are enabling David Lloyd to provide a more tailored experience to every member, thereby increasing loyalty. The integrated, business-wide digital capabilities have also provided a step-change in David Lloyd’s understanding of how people are using its services. The reports it now has access to are enabling it to further refine its offerings to best suit the evolving needs of its members.
And there are also the many cost savings and security enhancements achieved by replacing paper-based systems and spreadsheets with automated, digital capabilities.
Collect and prepare the data required to train a pioneering healthcare artificial intelligence algorithm
Moorfields Eye Hospital, the leading provider of eye health services in the UK and a world-class centre of excellence for ophthalmic research, was working with DeepMind on a pioneering artificial intelligence (AI) research project. The aim was to develop an algorithm capable of accurately spotting signs of conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in de-personalised eye scans. AMD is the most common cause of blindness in the UK.
Reviewing eye scans to assess whether a patient has a particular condition currently requires time and input from highly skilled clinicians. With large numbers of referrals, this can take time. If a computer was able to accurately spot those in need of quick treatment, it would free up clinicians to see more patients, and enable them to prioritise patients effectively. Being treated more quickly could save someone’s sight.
To train the AI algorithm, Moorfields Eye Hospital asked Softwire to help it bring together and prepare the necessary data from a number of sources. It also asked us to create a new in-house research support tool. DeepMind provided Moorfields with funding for the research, part of which covered Softwire’s work.
We aggregated and transformed the required data to train the AI algorithm, and built Moorfields Eye Hospital a transformational research support system
Firstly, we worked with Moorfields’ information governance teams to ensure all necessary data was de-identified in line with local and national guidelines. We then brought this together and transformed it into the correct format, ready for the development of AI algorithms.
Second, we created the in-house system to search the newly aggregated data, to support Moorfields Eye Hospital’s wider eye condition research work. The new tool enables researchers to search the enormous volume of data and quickly find relevant information, a process that was previously manual and highly labour-intensive.
DeepMind created an AI system that could interpret eye scans as accurately as world-leading expert doctors. This has the potential to transform eye care for the millions of people affected by preventable or curable sight loss worldwide.
We quickly provided the data required to train the AI algorithm, enabling Moorfields Eye Hospital and DeepMind to produce their research paper in the planned timescales. Pearse Keane, NIHR Clinician Scientist and Honorary Consultant Ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, underlines the importance of Softwire to this process: “ Having Softwire involved, working with our in-house information governance department, gave us a lot of security and trust in how robust the system was in this regard.”
The results, published online in Nature Medicine (and covered on the BBC and in most national newspapers including the front page of the London Evening Standard), show that the DeepMind AI system can quickly interpret eye scans from routine clinical practice with unprecedented accuracy. It can correctly recommend how patients should be referred for treatment for over 50 sight-threatening eye diseases – as accurately as world-leading expert doctors.
Meanwhile, the research support system we built means Moorfields’ researchers are now able to base their work on much larger sample sizes than was previously feasible.
Keane explains the impact this has already had: “We can now really take advantage of the fact that Moorfields is the largest eye hospital in Europe by using all our data. Previously, we would do studies of around 100 patients, and gathering the data could take up to six months. Now, we can gather data on 10,000 or even 100,000 patients in minutes, meaning the insights we get are much more powerful. We’ve had it for a few months and it’s already making a difference: we hope to have at least 10 abstracts to submit to a high-profile conference within the next two months, based on the work from Softwire.”
He concludes: “I would love to work with Softwire again in the future. I feel that if the NHS had access to this type of expertise, at scale, on a regular basis, it would have huge benefits for the UK and the world.”
For more details about this project, you can read DeepMind’s blog post.
We created a bespoke CMS to run the BBC's event microsites, including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds festivals and the BBC Proms.
The BBC wanted a powerful CMS that would simplify the process of covering live music performances, Non-technicians had to be able to set up the coverage and update it at any time even during the festivals. The system needed to provide a rich user experience whilst supporting usage spikes of over 100 requests per second, The CMS needed to be flexible enough to integrate with several internal and external systems. The system was required to deliver information in many formats including blogs, audio and profiles of performers and a large amount of audio and video content including live multiscreen.
Throughout the entire project, we worked with the full range of people involved in all of the many disparate complex media systems. We wanted to ensure that all information feeds were integrated seamlessly. We ran multi-site daily stand-up meetings and sprint planning sessions.
To handle the large number of visitors the system used multiple levels of caching. This allowed the CMS to cope with the conflicting requirements of a very high traffic system that also needed to respond within seconds to changes made by editorial staff in the field.
Our solution dramatically reduced costs so that the BBC not only saved money but was also able to build more event sites.
We reduced development time from several weeks of technical input down to a single afternoon requiring no technical knowledge. On the day, updates can be as live as the music. We freed-up resources to allow the BBC to do what they really love doing producing great festival coverage.
Our software debuted flawlessly at the BBC;s biggest ever free ticketed live music event, Radio 1's Hackney Weekend.
.NET Software Dev for Pharmaceutical Consulting Company
"They were agile and responsive in managing the project."
A pharmaceutical consulting company seeks Softwire's expertise in software development. Using .NET Framework, the tasks involve analyzing, designing, coding, and testing.
"They were agile and responsive in managing the project."
Feb 7, 2022
The client submitted this review online.
Please describe your company and your position there.
Pharmaceutical consulting. Chief Digital and Information Officer
For what projects/services did your company hire Softwire, and what were your goals?
.NET Software development Quality software Delivered on time Reflective of the organisational product requirements
How did you select this vendor and what were the deciding factors?
Relevant experience Quality of employees Responses to RFP request
Describe the scope of work in detail, including the project steps, key deliverables, and technologies used.
Agile requirement processes Analysis, design, coding and testing. Iterative fashion
How many people from the vendor's team worked with you, and what were their positions?
5-10 software engineers, PM, QA and a scrum master
Can you share any measurable outcomes of the project or general feedback about the deliverables?
Good quality deliverables Delivered slightly over time and budget Enduring quality of software
Describe their project management style, including communication tools and timeliness.
They were agile and responsive in managing the project.
What did you find most impressive or unique about this company?
Skills and experience of resources Ability to understand the client requirements when measured against other software development companies
Are there any areas for improvement or something they could have done differently?
Tighter management of timescales between the client and vendor
Softwire completed the task slightly over time and budget. Despite this, they still ensured the quality of the software. Their technical skills and experiences were impressive. Their quick responses and ability to understand the client's requirements made them stand out from competitors.