How our technical teams are expanding and evolving in response to Bud’s growth.
Responding to the evolution of our product
Following a period of intense growth – we’ve taken on over 20 new staff since October – we thought it was high time we talked a bit about what goes on behind the scenes. We particularly want to discuss how our key technology specialists continuously enhance Bud to make it the market-leading training management platform that it is. After all, it’s the quality of the people and teams that make such a difference to what we’re able to offer. Here we’ll look at two of our key tech areas, Product Design and Product Development, along with some of the experts we’ve brought in to look after them.
What is product design?
Product Design is the team who understand our current customers and the wider market in detail. They learn the ins and outs of what customers want, or need, to achieve and the issues or barriers that might stop them. They then find solutions that will improve Bud’s capacity to meet the needs of training providers and improve positive outcomes for learners. Our Product Design team also keeps abreast of government policies, legislation and compliance changes that may impact the way our product needs to work.
Who’s on the team?
Rupert Leamon is our Product Manager. His role has recently grown in response to our move to provide training management solutions beyond our apprenticeship offering. Along with his team, Rupert takes an overall view of the direction the product is taking, keeping an eye on the bigger picture and ensuring everything we design into our platform takes us down the right road.
“We’re the bridge between our Product Development teams and our clients,” says Rupert “translating what our clients want into actionable solutions to ensure the new features we develop meet our clients needs.
The Bud tech team is split into individual sprint teams consisting of Product Design, Development and Quality,” says Rupert. “We all work very closely to ensure we are building the right functionality to the highest standard. We start each day with a ‘Standup’ where the team discusses what we are working on and helps each other to solve any challenges we may have encountered.”
Rupert Leamon, Product Manager at Bud commented:
“The industry is rapidly changing and it’s really good being a part of that change. I get to spend a lot of time unpicking the complex challenges that our clients and the wider industry face and developing solutions to meet those challenges. No two days are the same.”
As well as our software designers we have recruited specialists to help with areas of the design that, while time consuming, are vital to get right. Funding & Compliance is one such area, with Matt Wood taking on this responsibility.
Matt’s role is to make sure the Bud product is fully up to speed in terms of compliance. It’s essential that the training providers who use the system can be confident it is up to date and accurate, especially as Bud automatically calculates and completes funding documentation based on learner enrolment and progress.
The ESFA guidelines are constantly changing and Bud could not risk getting left behind. That’s why we felt it necessary to put someone in place to keep us in check.
“Training providers may vary in size and specialisms,” says Matt, “but one thing they all have in common is that they must comply with the rules & regulations set out by the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
The funding rules are updated annually in August but also continually throughout the year,” says Matt. “By having a dedicated resource in funding & compliance, Bud is able to meet the demands of an ever-changing industry.”
Reflecting on his background, Matt says, “I have worked in the sector for many years in a variety of roles ranging from administration, to IQA, to head of compliance. Having worked for an ITP, I understand that timely and successful ILR returns are vital to the cashflow and survival of a business.”
Matt Wood, Funding and Compliance Manager at Bud said:
“My industry experience compliments the technical skills of the Product team to ensure that we are creating a system that is intuitive, flexible, and ESFA-compliant. My knowledge and experience of the industry helps to ensure that our processes are secure and robust. It’s really exciting to now be using my knowledge to influence technology.”
What does the product development team do?
The technology specialists in our Product Development team are where it all comes to life. They take the design ideas from the Product Design team and work to build and code the platform to turn them into reality. They then test everything to ensure it’s working as expected compared to anticipated results.
Once they’re happy everything is as it should be, the team will arrange for the new code to be implemented into the live system for the benefit of our training providers and learners.
Who is on the team?
Jason Bunting, our Head of Development, is responsible for this team, ensuring they adhere to best practice development standards and collaborate cross-team to achieve great results.
Speaking of the development team’s main objectives, Jason says “Among other tasks, they deliver software which works on any device and browser while continually keeping abreast of emerging technologies and determining how they might support future platform development.
From the earliest concept stages the development team is involved in exploring the art of the possible with the design team. And because Bud is a relatively new platform we have been able to take advantage of the substantial advantages brought by the latest technology. Only a few years ago terms such as ‘the cloud’ were rarely used outside of technological discussions and is now a staple term used in everyday society.
Bud is not a decade old platform built on legacy technology being ported to the cloud,” says Jason. “Bud was built and architected from inception as a cloud native application and is well positioned to leverage all of its advantages in a rapidly evolving technical landscape.”
Jason tells of how the development team secure quality across Bud’s systems. “We ensure that our code base aligns with best practice development and Bud’s architectural principles,” he says. “It needs to have sufficient consideration for security, scale, resilience, design consistency and accessibility while providing a natural environment for knowledge sharing within the team.
Once deployed the system is subject to a vast array of automated and manual exploratory testing before being considered ready for a future production deployment. This includes vulnerability scans, performance tests and cross browser/device testing.”
One of the areas Bud has really started to focus upon, both now and for the future, is business intelligence and our data warehouse. It’s a key part of the Bud offering and promises to remain at the core of many of the enhancements we make going forward. That’s why we’ve recruited specialists to make sure we’re on the right track.
Alex Obornik is our new BI Developer. He’s responsible for making the vast amounts of data we collate in our data warehouse useful, readable and actionable. He runs the part of the system that creates the dashboards our customers love, which provide an at-a-glance view of progress and insights for tutors and training providers alike.
“Data and cutting edge tools peak my interest at Bud,” said Alex “from the advanced Bud platform to the intriguing domain of Apprenticeships. There is never a shortage of hungry data mouths to feed, all the while providing consistent challenges that are well supported by the internal Bud culture and staff.”
Alex Obornik, BI Developer at Bud commented:
“BI and analytics is critical to supporting day to day processes and key decisions in our clients’ businesses. We also add extra value by providing a smooth experience to cater for a range of users and appetites using industry recognised methods and delivering this through well-known Microsoft technologies (such as Azure and PowerBI).”
Speaking of how his role is likely to evolve, Alex says: “In the short term of 1 to 2 years I suspect my role will be much of the same but with a more advanced domain landscape and subsequent requirements/features/data to support. However a mature data warehouse with some years of end to end apprenticeships will create interesting opportunities in all sorts of avenues, achievers, safeguarding and general anomalies/outliers.”