Inspired Customer Experiences with Pioneer at the Pinnacle: Mark Perry

The Mendix Pioneers Program is a global community of innovative industry leaders blazing an inventive trail forward in enterprise software development. Pioneers engage with other Platform experts, attend special events, and influence the Mendix product roadmap through workshops and meetings with Mendix executives and R&D.

Every month, we name one Pioneer at the Pinnacle to acknowledge their visionary accomplishments with the Mendix Platform.

This month’s Mendix Pioneer at the Pinnacle winner is Mark Perry from Knowsley Council. Mark is the IT Exploration Manager at the Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Keeping it simple to start

When Mark first started working for the Knowsley Council, he and a few colleagues were interested in building software but kept running into a few problems that made it difficult to make significant headway. Not only was there a disconnect between business and IT that made getting requirements an issue, but code was scattered around with different stuff on different platforms.

This was not the most ideal environment to try and create solutions in, which spurred the Knowsley Council to try and find a solution, which eventually led them to Mendix.

“What drew Knowsley Council to Mendix were the business integrations, the agile platform, the storyboards, and the fact that it was all sort of baked into one platform, which made it really attractive.“

After signing up with Mendix, Mark and his colleagues began tackling the need for Knowsley Council to offer up more services online for overall council efficiency and cost savings. They started small with a few web forms to help automate things like simple transactions that people would otherwise have to phone in or drop by a customer contact center to take care of. Over time they grew those web forms into one of their most successful apps – their channel shift portal.

Read more about Knowsley Council’s success with Mendix in this special, customer story.

Mark and his team’s development of their online services app was key in demonstrating that the low-code approach, combined with Mendix best practices, was a high-value pathway for Knowsley Council to streamline customer services while providing a better customer experience, without the need for a large the budget. This in turn opened the door for Knowsley Council to green-light further investment into development that could innovate other areas of the organization.

Each time, no matter the app, they were able to talk to the business side of the council, find out their challenges, and figure out how they could use Mendix to solve them.

“Essentially we look at what solutions exist out there in the marketplace and then think about how we can use Mendix to make our own, better version.”

Building the team

When embarking on a transformative way to work, including building new teams, you need someone with the vision to think radically different. In this case, that vision was provided by the Head of IT at Knowsley Council, Andy Garden, who could see the long-term benefits of using low-code to develop the types of applications they were needing.

For Mark Perry, being able to build what is needed, when it’s needed wasn’t the only thing that got him excited about Mendix. The ease with which he could take a project he’d been working on and hand it off to a team member to complete, really stood out. Expanding the team with new members was similarly painless. They were able to get new members working on current products right away for real-world experience, giving them the space to learn as a developer, while focusing on understanding the theories and best practices of software engineering without having to learn a specific, complex language.

There are ten team members now, including Mark, and all of them have some degree of experience in Mendix from beginners up to the expert level, providing a full spectrum of skills and experience.

“The success of low–code within Knowsley has been a team effort with contributions from infrastructure, cyber security, procurement, customer services, and many more!”

Knowsley Council Team Members:
Phil Morley, Lead Software Developer
Nicky Taylor, Principal IT Officer
Paul Reed, Principal IT Officer
Christina McGarry, Principal IT Officer
Sharon Manning, Senior IT Officer
Lee Collins, Senior IT Officer
Phil Fowler, Senior IT Officer
Adam Doyle, Senior IT Officer
Joel Woods, IT Developer

Going forward with mobile

In the next few weeks, Mark and his team will have the chance to push into production a long-awaited project: Two native mobile applications.

This is the first time the team is tackling native mobile application builds, which is exciting for everyone. Not only is it a complex project that will provide a user experience that is new, but the chance to build in a different sort of design space and mindset compared to what is required for building web applications has also been compelling.

With the native mobile apps, they’re looking to expand more into offline functionality. For example, one app will be mounted on vehicles collecting waste and refuse. This will create an additional mode for paperless transactions so they are ultimately using less paper and spending less money, making things much more efficient.

Mark was quick to point out that developing highly useful apps like this “stems from being able to work directly with managers and operatives and meet their specific requirements to provide customization that would be really expensive to get elsewhere.”

We wish Mark and his team the best as they launch their native mobile apps – we’re thrilled to see how it works out for them!

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