JobCentre Online was the Government recruitment platform for jobseekers in Northern Ireland to find work. Employers Online NI, a separate website, was specifically for employers to register their business and post their vacancies, which would then appear on JobCentre Online. Both sites had been hosted for 23 years on the Client Management System (CMS). This system was due for termination in March 2022. As such, it was agreed that a replacement would be developed to ensure services continued, and more importantly improved.
A Business Case was approved in January 2020 with the preferred option of progressing the project with the Digital Transformation Service and their providers.
The project team held a scoping workshop with key stakeholders prior to the engagement of DTS (Digital Transformation Service) and were in a position to handover the outline scope once providers appointed. This early engagement saved time for the project team and the developers as it presented a framework for discussion and development. This included the development of integrating the two websites into one to create a one stop shop for both employers and jobseekers.
This project provided an opportunity to improve an aging system and future proof the departmental recruitment platform by creating a modern, efficient, and user-friendly system.
Some of the key benefits are:
- better control over website content, as well as improving the customer experience without incurring additional costs each time
- support and maintenance savings
- automation of the registration process that allows for 24/7 registration for employers on the site
- improved automation of the allocation, application and checking processes
- improved management information
- real-time tracking of the number of applications submitted for each vacancy
- Google Analytics, enabling better analysis of data in relation to the recruitment needs across the province
- major improvements to on-screen vacancy layout, providing an informative and easy to read template.
Working with DTS enabled the development of excellent working relationships. The project team were able to benefit from other DTS projects and incorporate elements to our system. The developers were extremely flexible and at each update meeting were open to suggestions or enhancements and incorporated the developing ideas from the team.
The project progressed throughout within its timeframe and within budget. All project stages were delivered on time, tested, and progressed. The system went live on the agreed target date of April 2022. We had two weeks of excellent handover where bugs were identified and remedied and done so extremely quicky without impacting the service. Following this, a work package was agreed to implement any enhancements previously identified but delayed to ensure the system was fully operational by the target date.
Since go live, the department has advertised over 40,000 positions, registered thousands of employers and jobseekers and seen significant web traffic to the site with over 7 million views. 35% of all new employer registrations have used the newly developed automated method, highlighting the benefits of the significantly streamlined system.
Lessons Learned & Future Plans
The main takeaways from our development process is the importance of a well-defined and regularly reviewed scoping document, which DTS & Stiona made a priority. Developing good working relationships with those involved also enabled for fast flowing, productive meetings. The trust and understanding created on both sides led to open and wide ranging conversations about how to proceed on a number of issues. Flexibility from the project team, DTS & Stiona was also critical in the delivery of the project on time and within budget. The ability of all parties to be reactive and change the original plans as issues arose meant there was very little slippage within the timescales.
All of the benefits proposed by working with DTS were realised with many existing products being implemented within the newly developed system. The cost associated with this option was significantly lower than those associated with an open tender.
Whilst we have only been live since April 2022, we are starting to explore how to continue to develop and improve. As this project was progressed through DTS, this is an option now open to us. As new technology is developed by DTS which can potentially be utilised by our system and we gain a better understanding of the recruitment environment through our improved MI, we hope to further enhance and develop the system so that we can be the main port of call for employers and jobseekers throughout Northern Ireland.