Creative England understands the needs of SMEs, particularly those in the creative sector and how difficult it is to access finance from traditional sources that take businesses to the next stage. Valuable cash injections make business growth plans a reality and so they offer grants and loans to creative, digital businesses at competitive rates. This helps to fuel the fastest growing sector in the UK economy by financing business expansion and new products, leading to the creation of new high-quality jobs and Intellectual Property.
With ambitious plans for growth and increasing sources of funds, it was clear Creative England had outgrown existing software and non-digital methods of managing grants, loans, applications and awards. A new digital platform was required to cohesively amalgamate existing disparate data, and scale rapidly along with the business plans and forecasts.
Core requirements included:
- Full management of multi-tiered and spread fund sources
- Full management of application forms
- A web portal for applicant registration and account details
- Full management of applicants
- Full management of applications made
- Ability to run and create bespoke reports instantly
Discovery was a key part of the software development cycle where extensive resource was required from both teams to understand the existing business pains, each team’s and individual’s pains. Learning terminology and deciphering actual requirements from stated requirements was a key task to ensure all teams spoke and understood a common language. This discovery not only formed the strategic technical architecture, but also bonded teams together ensuring the organisation worked as one, together for a common goal.
Formal documentation including data flow diagrams, enhanced entity relationship diagrams and functional specifications were produced and shared with Creative England. Technology used included a tradition LAMP stack optimised by introducing NGINX, High Availability MySQL Percona Cluster, content delivery network, load balancing and application caching. For scalability and flexibility, a cloud environment was opted for.
The Finished Piece
A complete bespoke form builder was created as the project’s core tool for building application forms specific to Creative England’s needs. The management of funds required a tool to manage funds between multi-tiered sources ensuring full visibility of fund sources and spread. Public facing application forms required a public facing web portal to be created allowing individuals to register with Creative England, learn about funds available and apply. The application process was required to handle numerous stages including a screening questionnaire, expression of interest forms and also the final application form. All data through the system required to be reported where requirements for ad-hoc reports was quite normal. For this reason, an advanced reporting tool was created to offer an almost database administration approach to retrieving, grouping and visualising data.