Our client is a major success story in the UK professional services industry. A provider of specialist HR and compliance services to small and midsize businesses, the firm started life in 1996 as a family business. By 2012, annual revenues had grown to £20m, and it was acquired by a private equity investor who saw significant future growth potential.
That growth would require significant investments in technology and innovation, to differentiate the company’s offering in a crowded market. In 2015, ValueLabs was appointed as the Group’s strategic technology partner, having presented a compelling roadmap for digital transformation. Our five-year journey with our client has seen it grow through acquisition, adding new and valuable services to its portfolio.
We’ve continuously supported and enabled that growth, taking a strategic approach to developing the Group’s core platforms and continually innovating new digital services to maximize both revenues and operational efficiency. Today, the Group is a high-growth business with 40,000 clients, a 92% client retention rate, and 350,000 individual users of its online services across the UK. It has attracted progressively larger private equity investors, most recently being acquired in August 2020. With new and exciting initiatives in plan, we’re currently building new digital services to prepare the Group for a new decade of growth.
Our client’s growth journey began in earnest in 2012, following its acquisition by a private equity investor. The investor saw that the path to growth required an overhaul of the Group’s web platform, which provides self-service tools and materials to help clients with employment law, and health and safety. Hosted on a legacy ASP model, the platform was not scalable to support growth.
As the technology partner managing the legacy platform, we were invited to recommend a roadmap for transformation. We conducted a full enterprise architecture assessment and proposed a new architecture and governance model in line with the client’s business objectives. In 2015, we were appointed the strategic technology partner to manage the digital transformation.
Since then we’ve been instrumental in developing the client’s core service delivery platform. Initially, that involved rebuilding the platform on a multi-tenant architecture in Microsoft Azure and migrating legacy data across. Since the platform has been up and running in the cloud, we’ve continually proposed and built new functionality to enhance revenue and improve efficiency – for
Throughout the transformation journey, we’ve continually innovated new technology-driven services to help the company differentiate its offering and achieve efficiencies – for example:
Our innovation approach not only supports our client’s objectives for growth, customer service, operational efficiency, and service differentiation but has also actively increased the market value of the business. Since we were appointed transformation partner in 2015, the Group has grown from c.7,500 customers to c.40,000, and been acquired by progressively larger private equity investors.
One of our first objectives as our client’s strategic technology partner was to modernize the Group’s core customer-facing web platform. The existing ASP platform was not scalable to meet the client’s growth objectives, the service offerings were not differentiated, and client documentation was cumbersome to manage.
The aim was to evolve the legacy platform into a scalable platform that would give each client a single portal to existing and new services, including HR management tools, employment law factsheets and templates, and health and safety assessments and checklists. The Group also wanted to speed up client onboarding, easily manage each client’s documentation, and track client journeys.
Our approach was to rebuild the platform as a highly scalable, multi-tenant, SaaS solution in Microsoft Azure, with an intuitive portal interface for clients that includes secure single sign-on. We migrated existing users onto the new platform and developed new modules for holidays, absence, elearning, health and safety risk assessments, and many more.
We’ve also integrated newly acquired companies, re-architecting their services to make them available to clients through the platform. Today, the platform supports 350,000 users at more than 20,000 clients, and is scalable to support significant future growth.
When COVID-19 hit, the Group experienced a 6x increase in inquiries from anxious clients, ranging from how to furlough employees to how to make their workplace COVID-safe. Having initially furloughed employees itself, the company was struggling to handle the volumes of inbound calls.
Fortunately, we had already been working with our client to prototype an intelligent chatbot for the core platform, and we were able to turn the proof of concept into a fully fledged working bot in just a couple of weeks. Built with Microsoft Bot Framework and trained using Microsoft Q&A Maker, the bot was able to provide answers to many basic questions, relieving pressure on the contact center.
Since implementation, we’ve expanded the bot’s knowledge base using ValueLabs DAN neural search to find answers in unstructured documents. Today, the bot can resolve over 65% of queries it receives without recourse to a human agent, and that number is increasing all the time as we continue to refine it. What’s more, the bot is available to all 300,000 users of our client’s HR and health and safety services – not just designated contacts at each client.
Thanks in part to ValueLabs’ swift deployment and ongoing maintenance of the bot, the client's Net Promoter Score had increased to +29 by December 2020, up from +19 in February 2020.
Our client is on an ambitious growth trajectory, so it keeps a watchful eye on sales performance. We were tasked with developing a solution to allow the Group to monitor the sales cycle in real time, providing insight into factors like progress against target, deal velocity, and stalled opportunities.
We re-designed the existing data layer to meet these requirements, and built highly visual and interactive reporting dashboards using Tableau to visualize the current status of sales KPIs. In addition to the dashboards, we designed and produced pixel-perfect reports for offline distribution to sales representatives.
Today, Group executives and sales managers are able to monitor the sales cycle in near-real time, with data accurate to within 15 minutes. Sales representatives, meanwhile, are empowered with up-to-date data, allowing them to focus on the right opportunities and take the right actions to meet their targets.
As our client has grown, the job of producing statutory and management reports across all of the Group companies has become more complex. We identified an opportunity to build a data warehouse to consolidate data from across the Group for easier analytics and reporting. With further growth on the horizon, the data warehouse needed to be highly scalable.
Our solution was to build a modern data warehouse on AWS cloud infrastructure using Snowflake as the data warehouse platform and Jitterbit to integrate data from multiple platforms. We developed an Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) flow from 10 different source systems, including Sage, Salesforce and the Group’s own service delivery platform.
The data warehouse offers a single source of clean, up-to-date data, with over 100 standard reports that we’ve built in Tableau, as well as self-service reporting and data visualization using Microsoft Power BI. Business users can rely on fast, accurate, and visually compelling reports, while sales teams have a single view of leads, resulting in a 25% uplift in lead volume and an increase in lead quality.
Every company acquired by the Group brings new customers – and new opportunities to cross-sell and upsell relevant services from different divisions of the business. To maximize those opportunities and realize technical efficiencies, we’re implementing Salesforce Sales Cloud for sales and marketing in all new Group companies not already using Salesforce.
Our work has involved defining a governance model, managing the data migrations, developing custom functionality required by individual Group companies, conducting end-to-end testing, and handling GDPR compliance. We now have a standard process to migrate new acquisitions quickly.
By integrating all of those implementations into one Salesforce org, we’ve provided the Group with a 360-degree view of each customer, allowing upsell and cross-sell opportunities to be quickly identified and easily managed. By automating lead generation processes in Salesforce, we’ve also enabled a 10% increase in productivity and supported a 10% uplift in overall Group revenue.
Throughout our five-year relationship, we’ve worked on a OneCompany model with our client, developing a deep understanding of the Group’s business objectives, aligning with their strategy, and adopting shared goals.
With a continuous focus on technology optimization and digital innovation, we’ve proposed architectural changes and new digital services that have helped the Group not only to consistently meet its growth targets, but also to weather the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
ValueLabs knows our business, our culture and our technology—and knows how to help us get the most from our investments. Over our five-year relationship we’ve truly come to think of them as an extension of our team.
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