Apprenticeship Frameworks Online

100% tailor-made online collaborative application – delivered beyond the client brief, yet on time and on budget

Clients: Dept. of Business, Innovation and Skills; Alliance of Sector Skills Councils

The brief

Our client was looking for a unified, searchable website to collate all apprenticeship ‘frameworks’ for England and Wales. (These ‘frameworks’ are complex course descriptions; one for every type of apprenticeship in the UK, covering hundreds of different careers for hundreds of thousands of apprentices).

The proposed site would bring together the many disparate organisations involved in developing and ‘issuing’ frameworks (a sort of legally-defined publication process) – along with tailor-made workflow to support this collaboration.

There was an additional requirement to make the framework development process open to as many organisations as possible, including private companies and corporations.

All of the brief – and then some…

The project tender, and subsequent client project management, were handled by the Central Office of Information.

Our tender-winning proposal was to deliver all of the above requirement with an emphasis on ease-of-use.

In addition, we proposed that the entire framework development process be delivered (and supported) online via our bespoke ‘Framework creator’. Among many other benefits, it would mean that frameworks would follow a consistent format and be fully searchable. Add to that all the benefits of an online system, such as built-in workflow, in context help, sharing of ideas and work, in-line error checking, etc. In brief, our proposal was a step change beyond the original brief.

And we committed to delivering all of this within the original budget and to the same deadline. In part we were able to do this by using RAD (Rapid Application Development) techniques, and by leveraging existing BV tools such as the Indigo web platform (which includes Magenta CMS).

Changing legal landscape

During the detailed UX / IA (interactive design) phase, we worked with our clients and end-users to prototype the workflow, and model the interactive layout of these new-style apprenticeship frameworks. This was detailed, user-led interaction design at its best, with an emphasis on supporting our end-users throughout.

During the IA phase, it became apparent that these frameworks needed to allow a high degree of flexibility – e.g. to cover different requirements for England and Wales, multiple skills levels, a variable number of different jobs (or ‘pathways’) per framework, etc.

With a great deal of thought, client focus and experimental prototyping, we were able to design an online application which provided all the required flexibility, along with important consistency in layout, searchability, etc.

All still delivered on time, within budget

To meet our client’s deadlines, we added three of our highly-skilled software engineers to the core development team, and allocated additional QA staff and resource.

The AFO site launched on the day of our client’s deadline, and to our agreed budget.

A working success

To date, hundreds of frameworks (for hundreds of thousands of apprentices) have been developed and issued using the AFO site. This is ongoing.

You can see / download these frameworks by searching the ‘Framework library’ on the public-facing AFO site. (Though the ingenious collaborative workflow and bespoke ‘framework creator’ are only available to logged-in users).

Supporting the client and site users

Binary Vision have continued to support the site with client training sessions, and site updates / maintenance delivered via a support package.

A satisfied client

“It is a huge responsibility and a daunting prospect being part of a team commissioning a new website. Binary Vision held our hand all the way through and they continually went the extra mile to accommodate our changing needs as the project progressed. The training and follow up support is second to none - nothing was too much trouble and their communication skills and sense of humour, coupled with their unique ability to explain very technical terms and concepts in a clear way, created confidence in all stakeholders. The result – a well designed and efficient website which the customers enjoy using”. Linda How (Director, Learn to Change and Project Manager, AFO)