Digital Workspace.

Better, faster and more effective systems for your business

As software improves and new possibilities emerge, we start to see the world through clearer models. In the beginning we only had Microsoft Office on premise, but we have evolved into a new ecosphere of this digital workplace.

The digital workplace provides an organisation with services or capabilities across four main dimensions:

  • Communication and employee engagement

Communication between the employer, a place where anyone from the CEO’s office to the line of business and the employee to impart information (Links to Intranets and Yammer).

  • Collaboration

Providing the opportunity for employees to work together on projects or in teams, to share and solicit ideas. (Links to Teams, DRMS). 

  • Services – finding and sharing of information and knowledge

Business applications (process specific tools such as Microsoft 365 including SharePoint and the office tools, workflow as well as employee self-service).

  • Agile working — the ability to be productive any time and place

In a time when remote work is becoming the norm, employees need to be able to access their work, any place, any time on any device. 

Whether you need to optimise an existing IT infrastructure, or navigate the complexities of a hybrid physical and digital world, Exponant can help. With our services, you’ll have an agile, scalable, and more efficient way to address changing business demands. By employing solutions like cloud storage, office 365, Workflow Automation, imaging and data restoration and migration services, you can focus on your core business processes while accelerating your transition to a more digital workplace.

Modern Workplace

The Exponant Modern Workplace services include:

  • Customer Engagement solutions including Websites and Extranet Portals;
  • Employee engagement tools including Intranets and process management tools, for example approvals, leave or registration;
  • Enterprise Content Management including Documents and Records Management, Scanning, OCR and storage directly from Outlook into the DRMS;
  • Secure Digital signatures in compliance with the archive act;
  • Software customisation and development;
  • Change management, adoption and process optimisation
Exponant Workplace Solutions.
Websites

We develop websites according to the following principles which a great website should have including the following:

Functional
Our websites are designed to serve a purpose, usually to solve a problem, this may be as simple as proving information to online forms and applications, subscriptions or booking for an event.

Ease of use

A website should be easy to use and navigate. We draw up careful content architectures, site structures and data architectures to ensure that the website is easy to use. One of the most critical features of a website these days is the Search functionality because of the way we source information these days. We seldom navigate on a website any more unless we know exactly what we want, we merely enter a search term. Another aspect of making the site easy to use is the choice of language, sentence structure etc. to make it easy to consume the information we find.

Relevant Content

We spend time evaluating your business model, relevant legislation, your existing website and understanding who your target audience in order assist you with creating a suitable content architecture to suit your audience’s needs.

Modern
Exponant spends much time ensuring that we are up-to-date on the latest trends designs and technologies in order to to make sure your website is current.

Optimised for all browsers and devices

We develop your website to be optimised for different devices, browsers, data speed, search engines, and users.

Performance and Speed

We monitor the website’s performance and speed in order to optimise it for your purpose. We run technical diagnostics to establish the reason for any delays and will make recommendations for improvement. We also test uptime and can run an SLA service to monitor this for you 24/7.

Responsive

Access to the web on mobile phones has almost taken over browser-based access. Responsive design is a graphic user interface (GUI) design approach used to create content that adjusts smoothly to different screen sizes. Designers size elements so that their designs can automatically adapt to the browser space to ensure content consistency across devices. We can build and host your website in almost any application, but we will ensure that the software is responsive too. Exponant’s websites are designed to scale to any device, from mobile to PC.

Scalable
Our websites scale to a number of potential visitors. Not only the website’s user interface databases, APIs, and services.

Secure
We make sure that your website follows industry standards and guidelines. For example, if you have user registration feature, you want to make sure that user passwords are encrypted and not displayed in plain text. We also ensure that the website is secure and uses SSL encryption and a CAPTCHA feature to ensure that the user is not a bot.

Accessibility

People with visual impairments are accommodated by using AltText on the images, visibility tools, to test the experience of a person who is colour blind and where it is available in the software enabling the “Read out loud” function.

Monitor and Manage

Exponant can also monitor the usage, behavioural patterns, demographics and adoption of the system using Google analytics and other software health checks. They can assist the business with acquisition programmes to drive people to the website.

Search Engine Optimisation

At Exponant, we provide white hat SEO. This refers to any practice that improves your search rankings on a search engine results page while maintaining the integrity of your website and staying within the search engines’ terms of service.

We use two primary mechanisms for this:

  • Technical – the settings are optimised, keywords in the correct place, there is a site map for the bots to find and index and many more features.
  • Content – we can assist you in content creation and the development of SEO strategies and content calendars in order to keep the site fresh and the Search Engine bots coming back for more.
Intranets

At Exponant, we understand that internal systems, document management and communication needs differ vastly between companies. Rather than take a “one size fits all” approach we prefer to analyse and lay the groundwork before we begin implementation of a SharePoint Intranet.

We also believe that an optimised Intranet forms the strategic backbone for an organisation, increasing productivity, motivating staff and ensuring that they are committed to delivering on the organisation’s vision and goals.

Exponant can also monitor adoption of the system and provide insight into increase the use of the Intranet.

Extranets

An extranet allows access to partners, vendors and suppliers or an authorised set of customers – to information which is not in the public domain.

We develop two kinds on Extranets:

  • Traditional

These extranets allow named users toto parts of the Intranet or an internal application which the organisation wishes them to see. Care must be taken with security including Acceptable Use Policies, Firewalls, onboarding and off boarding and the prevention of data downloading, copying or emailing out of the system etc. to make sure there are no security breaches and risks of exposure

  • Portal

The Portal is less risky option as it is created on a ringfenced Team site. The users must still be registered, but only the information they have permission to see will be placed there. The disadvantage here is that care must be taken with version control and duplication in the DRMS.

Enterprise Content Management

SharePoint is an intuitive solution with increased enterprise content management functionality. It has same familiar look and feel of Microsoft Office, making it user-friendly, with no need to master a complete, new platform of operation and navigation.
Exponant is experienced in developing robust, intuitive ECM solutions that reduce risk and increase productivity. 

Methodologies for Development and Configuration

In order to ensure that we achieve consistent results, we follow a specific methodology which we have developed over many years. We also have the flexibility to adapt to a client’s methodology where specified.

SDLC

Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a process used by the software industry to design, develop and test high quality solutions. An SDLC is a framework defining tasks performed at each step in the software development process.

The SDLC that Exponant follows is a process for planning, creating, testing, and deploying an information system.  There are six stages in this cycle: requirement analysis, design, development and testing, implementation, documentation, and evaluation. Each of these steps is carefully thought through and we take care to learn from all new developments and practices.

Dev, QA and Production Servers

Optimally we prefer to use the three-server environment.

Development

The development environment (dev) is the environment in which changes to software are configured or developed. This differs from the target environment in various ways – the developer’s environment will include development tools like a compiler, integrated development environment, different or additional versions of libraries and support software, etc., which are not present in a user’s environment.

The is an environment in which options and changes are worked on and tried out

Testing

 

The purpose of the test environment is to allow human testers to exercise the new and changed system. After the developer accepts the configurations through unit testing in the development environment, the items are moved to the test environment. This usually constitutes one of the steps in the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) 

Pre-Production

This is an environment for testing prior to publishing. It may also connect to other production services and data, such as databases.

The primary use of a pre-production environment is to test all the installation/configuration/migration scripts and procedures before they’re published. This ensures all major and minor upgrades to production are completed reliably, without errors, and in the minimum of time.

Another important use of pre-production is performance testing, particularly load testing, as this is often sensitive to the environment.

Pre-production is also used by some organisations to preview new features to select customers or to validate integrations with live versions of external dependencies.

Production

The production environment is also known as live, as it is the environment that users directly interact with. This is the most sensitive step

Deploying a new release generally requires a restart and thus requires either an interruption in service or redundancy – either restarting instances slowly behind a load balancer, or starting up new servers ahead of time and then simply redirecting traffic to the new servers. This is why we normally deploy to production in off peak hours.

Agile vs Waterfall approach

When we are planning a project a lot of thought goes into the approach.

Agile is an incremental and iterative approach; Waterfall is a linear and sequential approach. Agile separates a project into sprints; Waterfall divides a project into phases. Agile helps complete many small projects; Waterfall helps complete one single project.

The advantages to Waterfall in measured cost containment, but in modern configuration environments like Microsoft 365 Agile tends to work better as the user embarks on a journey of discovery as they see what the system can do and this allows a far more collaborative approach with the client, so they get the best solution possible..

Team Structures

At Exponant we consider the structure of our team very carefully. Whether on sight at the client or working remotely the following teams are usually gathered, depending on the project.

  • Account Manager

The Account Manager is a senior Executive Team member on Exponant’s side and has sight of the overall project. Where necessary this Executive can play any of the other roles in the team. The Exponant Executives are highly engaged on all client projects.

  • Project Manager

This is particularly on large, complex fixed price projects as it is this person’s job to set out the ground rules for the project’s success. The project manager agrees with the client on a project management methodology, develops a project initiation document, sets up the Project Steering Committee and is primarily entrusted with ensuring that the project plan is executed on time, within the budget and to the requisite quality.

The Project Manager also manages timesheets and checks and follows up on the invoicing and other financial aspects.

  • Team Lead and Subject Matter Expert

This may be the same person or it could be two people depending on the specialisation, but for these purposes we shall treat them as a single entity. This person is responsible for designing the methodology that will be used, to get to the best possible results. This person is often also a senior business analyst and will take the time to research the client and the sector within which it functions to determine trends and opportunities.

It is this person’s job to negotiate with the project manager to ensure that enough time and resources have been allocated to the tasks at hand. This person is generally responsible for the management and guidance of the team and ensuring that they understand what is happening as well as the documentation of the Functional Specification or Strategy.

They are also responsible for taking a holistic view of the project within the client’s business context and also forming a constructive collaborative relationship with the Line of business customer who is the owner as well as the Executive Management and Enterprise Architecture team. In many cases skills transfer (Link to Skills Transfer) takes place between the team lead and the customer.

In some instances, the Team Lead may also take on the role of Change Management (Link to Change manager) and Training.

The Subject Matter Expert is someone who has specialised in the solution and understands all facets from the latest trends, methodologies and legislative impact.

This team reports to the Team Lead.

Technical Lead and the software specialist master

The Technical Lead is a senior developer and is responsible for developing the technical solution based on the Functional Requirements. He may also be a 3rd party software specialist or he will have one on his team. This person is responsible for liaising with the client’s technical team, usually the IT team as well as with the business teams to make recommendations for improvement where the software enables it.

The Technical Team Lead is responsible for being up to date with the latest technologies and trends and ensuring that the technical resources that report to him are productive and exercising care.

This Team Lead is also responsible for the development of the Interns. The role of technical, policy and methodology skills transfer to the client as well as technical training also fall within this role. Over and above that, the change agents (interns) must be taught the softer skills of engaging with the clients.

Administrator

The administrator liaises on “housekeeping” issues such as access, parking, getting on to the network etc. with the client, manages admin and sets up meetings, keeps attendance registers etc.

Interns 

The Interns are basically junior developers who are refining their trained skills in the real-world environment. They are salaried members of the team. It is there job to “walk the floors” with the clients, as change agents, to assist and encourage business uses when they encounter a technical difficulty. The also man the Service Desk in and SLA contract.

Data Architecture and standards

Exponant takes its Data Architecture very seriously as we have found in our experience that the system is significantly optimised by having consistent standards in terms of deliverables, reporting and scalability.

We have developed our own proprietary conventions for our data architecture which is learned by every developer and rigorously deployed throughout the project.

Documentation

At Exponant, we have strict documentation riles. A case file for deliverables is set up for each client either on our DRMS or in the Teams site for that client.

Prior to the project starting we establish the client’s preference as to whether they would prefer to use their own format, or we should use the Exponant format.

We also agree with the clients what the criteria for success are and build them into the structure and create templates for consistency.

All specifications, Functional, System and Technical Specifications are meticulously documented and records of all meetings and decisions are kept as well as important emails.

About Exponant.

We are an integrated ICT solutions provider that uses leading technologies to deliver sustainable value to corporate and public sector organisations.

Contact Exponant.

Building 32, Oxford Office Park, 3 Bauhinia Drive, Highveld
Centurion
Gauteng
0157
+27 12 663 0100
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