Want a web solution that's a little different? We quite like a challenge.
Khoosys have been able to help a number of clients with unique online solutions to fit their businesses.
“Honest John” is renouned for his weekly motoring advice in The Telegraph, but around ten years ago Khoo Systems Ltd were asked to create a website which reflected Honest John's impartial view of motoring matters.
The brief was to develop a website that had simple CMS in some sections, a framework that linked the site together, a forum that would grow a community and a site that would enable targetted advertising to be introduced.
With today's internet knowledge the brief would have seemed simple, but in those days the website that Khoo Systems created was pretty revolutionary and performed so well that the unique visitor eventually ran into the tens of thousands each day.
Khoosys worked with a graphic designer to create the Honest John website in two phases. In the first phase, we gave Honest John and his editors the ability to update a car-by-car guide, news and road test sections using a secure administration area of the site.
In those days HJ was not web savvy enough to create the standard of pages required in a commercial site. Therefore we developed a simple CMS where HJ could edit content and upload the graphics of his choice, many of which were taken on his own digital camera.
With the requirement of a discussion forum for site users we decided to use an open-source forum software. This solution worked well for just over the first year of the site. However, when visitor numbers rose to 20,00 visits per day.
The second phase of the development added functionality to the Honest John website. We increased the number of areas where HJ could publish information himself and enhanced the searching capability on the site to allow the user to find information quickly from any page by simply keying in words or phrases.
A Khoosys Forum
The discussion forum, although very popular, was becoming in danger of turning some useful contributors away from the site by the unhelpful remarks by a few individuals despite warnings from the site moderator. More control was needed over what was being posted and how this could be moderated.
We decided rather than tinkering with the original forum software, to rewrite it in a manner which would serve Honest John’s needs better. We were able to complete this new software within one month from start to finish.
A focus group of the new moderators was established to preview the software. From their feed back helpful changes and enhancements to the programming was made prior to the launch. The advice proved to be invaluable in ironing out most of the problems and ensured that the new forum’s launch was a smooth transition from old to new - something greeted in the main with enthusiasm by site users. We were able to continue making adjustments to the site in response to further feedback after launch, without loss of continuity or any ‘down time’ which would have harmed our client’s reputation.
Accurate Visitor Numbers
In order to realise the full potential of this site, the publishers asked us for accurate site usage statistics. They knew they could attract more sponsors for their site if they had detailed information on how many people visited the site, and whether the visits counted were the same people revisiting the site or new visitors. (i.e. accurate site subscription numbers). What they asked for was more detailed data than we regularly provided for all our hosted sites in our web server detailed logs and analysis.
Honest John also wanted to know how useful links from the site were as this would determine the effectiveness of the site for advertising or sponsoring business.
Khoo Systems were able to put in place a cookie-based logging system which is now able to determine very accurate usage numbers in real time. We also developed a site link logger to determine link usage.
Summary of Benefits
- Talked to client at every stage
- Refined and enhanced the site as it was developed
- Translated goals into realities
- Met the needs of the customer
Due to the popularity of this site, Honest John were able to derive revenue from the site through advertising, sponsorship and directory membership.
Faced with the responsibility of finding jobs for their skilled workforce due to organisational changes, Rolls-Royce, through Winchester Consulting turned to a Khoosys solution to make their people available to related industries.
Rolls-Royce are a world-class manufacturer of aircraft engines. Due to corporate restructuring, they needed to find jobs for many of their skilled workforce from their sites throughout the UK. They set up resource centres at various sites to manage participants undergoing change and used the services of Winchester Consulting to facilitate in the process.
Khoosys had already used desktop application software to assist in managing outplacement and redeployment at London Underground. Winchester Consulting were aware of this and approached us with the view to redesigning this software for use at Rolls-Royce. "CTrack" was created after a process of collaboration with Human Resources staff at Rolls-Royce.
CTrack enabled Rolls-Royce to track the movement and job search process of participants through each of their job centres.
It improved the efficiency of the whole process of redeployment of participants and provided quick access to management statistical information about this process.
Jobs from Jobline 500 able to be matched with participants on the system in an automated way which saves labour and time to Rolls-Royce HR staff.
We suggested that some of internet technologies could be used to help firms like Rolls-Royce improve the job-finding possibilities of their personnel. CWeb was the result. It was a password-protected site giving HR personnel the ability to upload participant details anonymously along with CVs. They could search for suitable vacancies from participating engineering businesses. Similarly it gave these businesses their own log in, where they can offer up vacancies along with files of detailed information about the vacancy.
The main benefit was allowing job-seekers to have a quick way to find vacancies in similar industries.
Citizen's Advice Bureau
The Citizens Advice Bureau are a well known charitable organisation whose services are available in most towns to provide helpful free advice to members of the public on any areas of concern, such as debt and financial problems, divorce and family matters, pregnancy advice, legal aid issues, housing and benefit problems. They are a team of highly-dedicated personnel, mainly volunteers, who give of themselves in an extraordinary way to help the local community. Much of their funding is from their own efforts at local fund raising, and despite their tight budgets, they need to present a professional and reassuring image to the public they serve which matches the quality of the advice they give.
A relationship grows
Khoosys came into a relationship with a local bureau by helping them quickly sort out troublesome issues with their computer network which had previously cost them a lot valuable time and money with other local computer support companies. We were able to utilise for them our working knowledge of networks gained from our main business in technology of internet solutions. Although we do not focus on this expertise, we were willing to provide it to this particular organisation as we knew that by doing so we could save them a lot of their hard won funding and let them concentrate on delivering advice.
Enabling Better Advice
One issue that was raised by Bureau staff was a problem in searching for the right information to give during counselling. Much of the information that is given is provided by the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureau (NACAB). They issue monthly updates on CD-ROM of information in the form of web pages indexed by category. However, as information regarding some areas could fall under several categories, the problem for staff, especially some of the newly-trained or part-timers, was of finding that information quickly. Knowing that there was no further information on a particular topic would also be helpful as they would not waste time looking for it - and more time saved would allow them to serve more customers.
Khoosys offered a very simple and low-cost solution which they adopted: to put a search engine on their information system and serve this from an intranet server on their network. All the software on the server was free of licensing cost and had already proved to be reliable on our other internet sites we had developed.
This low-cost approach was very important to them as they have to make their funds go as far as possible.
We were able in a few days to implement this search and give them a quick facility to search on any words in their information system. This is a facility which NACAB is still working on delivering to the CABs throughout the country in their next release of the information system. This local bureau has clearly been able to make the most of their investment in computer technology to deliver a first-rate advice service.
Going forward - integrated client management system
We are currently continuing our relationship with the CAB by developing an intranet application to do CASE manangement. The system allows integration of most procedures currently being employed:
- client details will be entered only once and quickly retrievable
- case management - including supervisor and specialist checking procedures. The ability to write notes between case workers and supervisors on any particular case.
- conflict of interest checks
- key date management
- outgoing correspondence will be easier to find by being attached to a client’s record. It will be possible to find this by a number of key fields and should save bureau staff considerable time. The standards enforced by the software should ensure consistency in data storage which means that less “working practice” rules need be remembered by the staff. This is especially important as most staff are part-time.
- bureau case statistics for return to central office will be compile by the system automatically - saving time. Also data will be available to the management to see how much of a service has been provided to certain areas of the community. This will assist in raising funds from these areas enabling the bureau to continue to branch out into the community.
- internal checking and training procedures will be put in place in the software to assist in the on-going task of recruiting and training up new staff and ensuring quality of service.