Asciano is the region’s largest combined rail and cargo ports operator, with an annual turnover of $4 billion. The Asciano group of companies handle millions of tonnes of agricultural and resource commodities, retail goods, manufacturing products, construction and other materials from multiple ports and railways Australia-wide.
Asciano is the region’s largest combined rail and cargo ports operator, bringing together Pacific National’s rail operations and Patrick’s ports, stevedoring and logistics businesses.
Asciano’s frontline workforce, who comprise approximately 60 per cent of the company’s total number of employees, were not optimally connected to the organisation’s communication channels or to their colleagues. These employees do not typically have a company email account, receive the e-mailed newsletters, or have access to Asciano’s intranet. Whilst some business locations such as ports have kiosks (a terminal available for employees to access their payroll information, such as payslips and leave), these offer very limited access to information. Many of the employees work in shifts or are remotely operating trains, making it complex and slow to distribute briefings and engage all employees with the company on a regular basis.
At the same time, Asciano was investing in an enhanced customer centric culture that required a highly connected and motivated workforce, with communication recognised as the key enabler. As a result, it was critical to develop a real-time, two-way communication platform, to enable employees to stay connected and feel included as part of the Asciano community.
Kloud demonstrated that they understood what we needed, which was much more than what we asked for. We asked for an app builder, Kloud offered us a partnership. We were looking for experience, Kloud challenged us and supported us. Kloud stepped in when Asciano needed to bring in integration and mobile expertise. Kloud has shown flexibility when we were building our first agile practice, because Kloud readily adopted Asciano’s and other vendor’s employees into the sprint team and accepted a very big ‘definition of done’. Kloud’s approach to partner with us and their focus on helping us to succeed is unique and that’s why I know that we made the right decision to partner with Kloud. - Eveliene Ward, Product Manager, Asciano
In response to the business situation, Kloud proposed myConnect, a secure mobile computing platform for Asciano’s employees.
myConnect is a secure, hybrid, and highly-available cloud-based web application, built on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. myConnect includes content and tools, delivering a personalised experience that presents top corporate news and personalised content for the user. The solution puts the Asciano employees at the centre of the experience, providing access to:
- Pay slips and payable time summaries
- Leave balances and the ability to apply for leave
- Rosters for on site team members in desktop and mobile formats
- Latest news on the company
- A hybrid app and a responsive web design for desktop, tablet, and mobile browsers
- Single sign-on authentication with Asciano’s on-premises identity management system- anytime, anywhere and from any device.
Kloud user experience (UX) consultants were engaged early in the project lifecycle and worked alongside the product owner, business stakeholders and end users to develop user stories and the product backlog. The UX team developed responsive designs that were quickly prototyped and taken out to a number of business locations to allow workers to check the usability and provide feedback.
With a new focus on agile delivery, an experienced scrum master was engaged to prepare and execute the first release cycle consisting of six two-week sprints. Using the Visual Studio Online (VSO) application lifecycle management platform, the scrum master worked closely with the product owner to groom, estimate and prioritise the product backlog, plan and execute the sprints as well as providing essential visibility of the newly adopted methodology to business stakeholders through the reporting features of VSO.
The myConnect solution was built on the Microsoft Azure platform and was composed using a suite of platform services including Azure Active Directory, Azure Web Apps, Azure SQL Database, Azure Redis Cache, Azure Notification Hub and Azure Application Insights. Integration services were provided using MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform, which provides API Management and hosting services on CloudHub).
At its core, myConnect is an ASP.NET MVC web application hosted within an Azure Web App service, scalable to meet peak and future demands. Application data is stored in an Azure SQL database with backup and failover functionality. As the web application scales, session state is distributed across the nodes using a highly available Azure Redis Cache service.
As a result of myConnect, Asciano employees can share their feedback and ideas, and view at a glance their rosters, payslips, leave balances and apply for leave, delivering the first step to Asciano’s vision where all employees can connect with the company and with each other.
MyConnect allows employees to perform some important functions like access to payslips, check leave balances, apply for leave, view shift rosters, access personal information and receive updates about the company and communicate with the business. All these functions can be accessed from employees’ tablets or smart phones, PCs at home or office desktops. The ease of access combined with a sleek and effective user interface has been very well received and has helped employees engage with Asciano more effectively and efficiently anywhere, at any time.