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Action for Children has begun delivering applications as part of a digital transformation programme powered by the Mendix application platform-as-a-service (PaaS) development environment.
The programme set out to modernise inefficient administrative tasks in the charity with centrally managed IT systems.
According to Daniel Roberts, business systems development manager at Action for Children, many of the processes run by the charity are unique, meaning there are no off-the-shelf applications available.
“We had manual processes that were paper-based, Microsoft Access databases running on people’s C: drive and Excel spreadsheets,” said Roberts.
Given that a lot of the charity’s data was stored locally, Action for Children did not have enough knowledge of what people were trying to do.
The charity’s first goal was to centralise the back office in Watford, which supported 300 children centres. In the past six-to-eight months, the charity used Mendix to build a heath and safety application. This information was previously collected in Word documents. “We transposed the Word files onto a single repository and put it online,” said Roberts.
Alongside the safety application, Roberts said the charity ran a property system, which did not meet its needs. Action for Children operates 600 properties across the country and had to make sure all of the legal and insurance data was captured and available in one place for 800 users.
Roberts currently manages a team responsible for Mendix projects, and the charity operates a formal request procedure for additional applications. “We have a proper request process with a dedicated inbox and a page on our Intranet.”
Following a request, Roberts’ team then has a conversation with the people making the request and spends time understanding the children centres. With every project, he said the team runs a three-week agile sprint cycle.
“We operate in an environment where change is frequent. Mendix allows us to build flexible, agile applications that we can easily adapt to better meet user requirements, changing needs and process innovation,” said Roberts.