ESP Group: Putting best practices in place

ESP Group is an end-to-end provider of smart ticketing solutions, made up of three organisations – Journeycall, Systex and Viaqqio – each responsible for a different aspect of the group’s services.

The Group’s clients include leading organisations such as Transport for London, The Scottish Government, and the Association of Train Operating Companies.

Equal Experts was engaged to assist at Systex, in Hull, where software developers are concerned with the nuts and bolts of issuing and fulfilling smartcards, and allowing users to manage them.

The company’s suite of internal software and support applications had grown organically over the last 20 years – without clear foresight over how the overall system might need to scale in future. Now ESP had a range of exciting opportunities ahead of it; to make the most of them, it needed more mature development practices in place.

How we helped

On beginning our engagement with ESP, the initial challenge was to demonstrate more modern ways of working. By collaborating side-by-side with members of the existing tech team, we were able to demonstrate best practices on a daily basis, while working together on ESP’s core software suite. With the suite being used by a variety of ESP customers, we were able to make improvements that delivered immediate value to the business.

We soon found that the tech stack ESP had chosen for its software had not been assembled with sufficient focus on the value it could provide to the business. We reappraised the situation, starting from the ground up with modern, effective engineering practices. Together, we implemented Test Driven Development, automated acceptance testing, pair / mob programming, and established the Scrum framework in daily use – providing a clear, well-understood structure for iterative software delivery.

By demonstrating these development practices in action on a daily basis, our consultants were able to mentor the team until they were comfortable delivering software on a regular basis.

Ensuring lasting change

It wasn’t enough to demonstrate best practices – we needed to be sure ESP would benefit in the longer term. So in addition to working with the tech team on day-to-day delivery, we worked with the business to identify key metrics for reporting – and its measurement of success. Equal Experts was also responsible for identifying and training key members of staff to own the transformation – setting the stage for enduring organisational transformation.

We did this by working closely with the Board to define technical strategy and recruitment plans, and by introducing mentoring and coaching structures to support the continual development of new capabilities. We also provided consulting on strategic technical issues. By helping to introduce technical representation at board level, we were able to leave the engagement with confidence, knowing that technical quality is now prized by senior management.

“Working in partnership with Equal Experts has allowed us to re-align our technology processes, and has also supported us in changing our culture to one of rapid delivery towards a shared goal. Equal Experts has helped us create sound development principles, which will further support ESP’s vision of supporting the passenger on every step of their journey.” – Theresa Wishart, COO, ESP Group

This engagement showed what Equal Experts is all about: our consultants got straight to work to deliver immediate value, while working onsite alongside people at every step of the value chain. The result? ESP Group is now well placed to benefit from the regular delivery of fully-tested, high quality code.