Executive summary Executive summary
Our client is one of the UK’s largest energy suppliers powering nearly 5 million homes. The company is also one of the leading providers of home energy and heating equipment, offering the installation and maintenance of smart meters, boilers, thermostats, and more. In its commitment to 100% carbon-free renewable energy, the company plants nearly 1 million trees across the UK annually.
The client wanted to improve their business efficiency and streamline cooperation with their affiliated company by developing a single platform that could be used for managing boiler insurance operations.
N-iX took the behavior-driven approach to platform development. We have also set up testing as a service to streamline software testing activities. Finally, we have established Infrastructure as a Code and built several PoCs to validate and optimize operations.
N-iX has helped the client streamline operations by developing a unified platform that could be used by both the client’s employees and their affiliated company. Moreover, we helped significantly reduce operational expenses and boost employee productivity by reducing the amount of manual work.
Success story in detail
Our client was using two separate back-office platforms to manage boiler insurance operations: one was utilized by their employees while another one was implemented for their affiliated company. The client needed to build a unified platform that would include all necessary features and could be used by both companies. This would allow them to improve the efficiency of the cooperation with their affiliated company and streamline operations for all employees. Additionally, the client would be able to enhance the accuracy, accessibility, and security of their data by combining and standardizing it in a single place.
N-iX team has set up a behavior-driven approach in which an application is documented and designed around the behavior a user expects to experience when interacting with it. We wrote user scenarios using a language-independent Gherkin style, where each step involves logic on the code level. As a result, we created executable and easy-to-read documentation that can be used by software developers, QA experts, and the client.
Our QA team has introduced testing as a service from scratch and implemented a combined solution for manual and automated testing with a shift to automation testing and a quick testing feedback loop.
Our DevOps engineers have established the Infrastructure as a Code approach. We create configuration files containing infrastructure specifications, making editing and distributing the configurations easier. To accelerate the time-to-market of new features, we built several PoCs: Kubernetes usage, DevOps artifacts, and dependency management.
N-iX has developed a new boiler insurance back-office platform from scratch using the microservices architecture. To align it with the existing technology stack, we have migrated the architecture from MS Azure to AWS. All data from the client’s and the affiliated company’s systems was also migrated to the new platform. The following microservices have been developed by our engineers:
- Modulus Check;
- Customer Cancellation;
- Payment Authorization;
- Message Broker;
- POL Authorization.
Each microservice adheres to the common clean architecture template which divides the solution into the following layers: business logic, application, and infrastructure. We have minimized the dependencies within the system to easily make changes without rewriting it. Code and infrastructure are deployed separately within each microservice.
N-iX QA engineers have implemented a combined solution for manual and automated testing that facilitated the management of test cases, test plans, and runs. This has significantly improved the speed and efficiency of all testing activities, and allowed our engineers to receive real-time reports about the testing progress. Automation testing has covered the following cases:
- Regression testing;
- Public website UI;
- Network portal;
- Emails sent to customers;
- API requests;
- Critical application end-to-end flows.
Additionally, N-iX has supported the client in developing a new website. While the client has created the UI/UX design, N-iX team has handled the development and analysis. We have established effective cooperation with the client, which allowed us to release the first working version of the website within just three months. We constantly introduce new features and improvements based on the feedback and provide maintenance and support. The website is visited by more than 100,000 users every month.
To streamline operations and provide a smooth user experience for both the client and their customers, our engineers have implemented multiple features, including:
- Web form and phone signup that enables users to apply for boiler insurance on the website.
- User eligibility check that helps users quickly receive the insurance contract, payment schedules, and charging instructions after they complete the signup process.
- Automated payment collection that significantly reduces the amount of manual work by collecting, processing, and sending payments to the payment provider.
- Renewal functionality that allows the client’s financial agents to communicate quickly with customers about the contract renewal.
- Reconciliation feature that can automatically compare bank statements and internal records to locate and clarify discrepancies.
Finally, we have assisted the client with maintaining the legacy system and transferring users to the new platform.
N-iX DevOps experts have set up CI/CD processes to accelerate the platform’s time-to-market, and built several technical PoCs, such as Kubernetes usage and dependency management. We have established Terraform scripts and built the infrastructure for basic services by making adjustments to Networking, Kubernetes, security checks, compliance, backups, monitoring, and logging up. Our DevOps team provided Terraform scripts to software developers so that they could deploy the infrastructure on their own. We have also automated the workflows with AWS by using Crossplane.
Additionally, our engineers have improved the system's availability and cluster efficiency by using the Karpenter cluster autoscaler, which can be scaled to up to 20 virtual machines in less than 2 minutes. Karpenter removes the need to keep additional capacity by determining the amount of resources servers require based on their load.
We have downscaled the non-prod environment by switching it off for the nighttime to effectively use resources. As a result, we were able to reduce infrastructure costs by up to 50%. Moreover, our engineers have switched to Bottlerocket spot instances, which lowered management overhead and minimized operational costs by up to 70%.
Finally, we have improved security by switching to integrations via AWS IAM roles instead of AWS IAM users. IAM roles allowed us to connect to AWS in a more secure way by requesting temporary login and password that would expire in several hours.
We have developed a new boiler insurance back-office platform from scratch based on the modern technology stack and the microservices architecture. To eliminate data discrepancies, we migrated data from the systems belonging to the client and affiliated companies into the new platform. We have also helped the client develop a new website with a smooth and intuitive user experience, and introduced various DevOps optimizations. As a result of our cooperation, the client was able to benefit in several significant ways:
- Lowered management overhead and minimized operational costs by up to 70%;
- Reduced infrastructure costs by up to 50%;
- Improved operational efficiency and streamlined cooperation with the client’s affiliated company by developing a new unified back-office platform;
- Increased customer satisfaction by developing a new website with multiple useful features and intuitive UI;
- Boosted employee productivity by automating payment collection and reducing the amount of required manual work;
- Accelerated the time-to-market by introducing automation tests and setting up the CI/CD pipeline;
- Significantly reduced operational costs and infrastructure expenses by integrating with Bottlerocket OS and Karpenter cluster autoscaler.