Case Study – West Midlands Collaborative Commerce Marketplace
What They Do:
The WMCCM website is an EU funded project which aims to help West Midlands manufacturing companies in a variety of ways. It gives them access to new business opportunities via electronic tenders coming into the system – which can be delivered directly to companies’ inboxes; it assits them with finding the right partners to undertake this new work by competence profiling companies detailed on the site – ascertaining their core skills; it provides a secure online project space to sustain these new relationships and undertake and manage the logistics of the work and, finally, it promotes their profile and details actively on the internet.
The website had been up and running for 18 months but needed fine tuning. There was an overwhelming demand for its services and improvements were needed to maintain reliability. WMCCM bosses also wanted to respond to feedback developing the site to be as effective as possible for its users.
What We Did:
- Reliabilty - The influx of interest in the site caused it to be quite slow and unreliable, the system often timing out before pages could be retrieved. We upgraded the hardware and de-bugged the system to ensure improved performance and reliability.
- Navigation - Feedback from users stated they were finding some sections of the website difficult to find. We changed the page layout to make sections more accessible. We also added extra links between pages, tying relevant information together.
- Search Optimisation – The general online trend now is to use search facilities such as ‘Google’ to find the information they want. A bug in the WMCCM websites code was preventing searches from bringing up information from the site, so we amended that. We also modified the site to wnsure as much relevant information as possible would be displayed through searches.
- Database - Because the amount of companies enrolling with the site quickly exceeded expectations, the capacity of the datbase wasn’t equipped to hold the information. We expanded the database capacity beyond its current use to fulfil present and future requirements.
Work will be ongoing, but the website will remain functional throughout the update process.
- ACUTEC continue to provide IT support for all of WMCCM’s applications.
- Systems are continually updated to stay in line with changing working practices and legislation.
- Systems are added to or adapted as required by WMCCM to further tailor the system to their needs and make it more user friendly.
“We knew this was a complex project that would need fine tuning, and brought ACUTEC on board 12 months ago to maximise its effectiveness.
“We had experienced a few teething problems after going live. The influx of interest had caused it to be quite slow and sometimes unreliable – the system timing out before the pages could be retrieved.
“We also listened to feedback from users once the site was being accessed regularly and ACUTEC have made changes in response to their comments.
“They have altered the layout to make it much easier to navigate, swapped the server to increase reliability and de-bugged the system, making it quicker and simpler to use.
“The changes have had a huge impact on the sites usability and we have since seen a dramatic growth in its use.
“We are really proud of the results from the site so far. In the last twelve months alone we have secured more than £3 million of business for the West Midlands manufactures both national and international. “WMCCM will continue to evolve as we find new ways to help business with issues such as turnover, costs, quality and marketing and ACUTEC’s advice and ongoing support is proving vital throughout this process.
“We will continue to work with them to provide a first-class service to the local engineering and manufacturing community.”
Alexios Gegios, Project Manager at WMCCM