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Hunker down, it was time for consolidation

Jennifer Bird • Dec 20, 2023 • 3 min read


Tech development is not all about the creation of a whizzy app which often people seem to think can take a few weeks and can be done with little funding. It is also about making the tech stronger and more maintainable. Signalise has ambitious plans. We need the ability to scale and handle larger amounts of data and users and this is where we are at now.

This is the stuff it feels harder to openly talk about. Who is going to want to find out about fixing a bug or adding some NHS location data to a web app? But it’s important stuff to the people using the tech. Who wants to talk about maintenance… yawn!

Gray and black laptop computer on surface

Recent work:

Following the start of several new NHS contracts in April, we got busy adding data and tweaking our booking platform. We’ve had great feedback from NHS trusts, co-op staff and users, which allows us to keep developing and improving what we do.

Then we migrated to a new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system (back office records and manual parts). We have now been working with a different, more interesting and stable base on which to develop and integrate the platform. Now, it is all about better automations, integrations between our apps and creating more functionality for all users.

New feature development and bug fixes:

Often an introduction of new features can lead to the breaking of others. After some new feature work, we’ve had to do a few bug fixes to get the code right before making new features live.

Some of these features can only be seen by co-op staff or NHS users. We’ve been working on auto-populating more fields, adding more fields to get better data for staff and automating more processes. Anything that can help to speed up delivery!

Maintenance:

We are also looking at what we need to maintain to ensure everything we are doing is up to date and adding time for this in our plans. We’re aware of tech debt and the need to invest time and funds to maintain our tech. Also not very interesting but absolutely necessary.

Reducing dependencies:

We have been dependent on a few external apps that have not served us well. We are planning to reduce use of these apps and use alternate solutions. Our options are: build solutions ourselves, access for free via open source solutions or make the decision to just stop using. And a huge learning point has been that it is interesting how some apps feel very necessary in the early days but have become less important as our co-op has grown.

The next phases of work:

We have been working towards shutting down the old website with new content for the booking platform, which will become the main website and new features for the Deaf community and regular customers. We’ve also been working on our video service and our data app. Our tech estate has grown and we are now entering our next phase of tech where we can revisit the booking platform and get our apps working together more.

The next phase will be more exciting and progressive. And, it is going to be far easier to write about!