Workopolis searches for Web site help

Job search Web site Workopolis is able to work more efficiently and bring new features into production more quickly following the implementation of a Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT)-based platform led by solution provider imason.

A Toronto-based Microsoft partner, imason was chosen by Workopolis for a comprehensive review of its IT infrastructure, which led to a move to the Microsoft .Net platform and the implementation of Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server.

Workopolis president Patrick Sullivan says they tapped imason to help them meet several challenges. He explains the job site was launched in 1999 with technology that was wonderful at the time, but some nine years later the infrastructure was reaching its limits, and with monthly visits reaching four million the servers were hitting capacity.

“It was a good time to upgrade our infrastructure and move to .Net,” said Sullivan. “We tried to do that ourselves but it didn’t work out too well, so imason were the folks we turned to to help us. They had real expertise in .Net.”

It was felt .Net would be a better long-term platform for the Workopolis infrastructure, says Sullivan, because of it continual improvement, strong developer tools, and good collaborative capabilities.

The role of imason has been to implement the technology, provide advice and expertise where needed, and get imason’s own IT staff and users trained-up so going forward they can manage and build-out the infrastructure themselves.

“It was a rocky road for us initially,” said Sullivan. “For our developers it was really new territory and it took us awhile to get started, probably because our developers tried to adapt .Net into something it wasn’t, something like our previous system, instead of using its benefits.”

Training was important, says Sullivan, and imason played an important role in bringing the Workopolis staff up to speed and bringing in resources from Microsoft to help the staff learn how to best utilize the features of the new software.

“I think our developers were enthusiastic about moving forward, they just didn’t have the expertise,” said Sullivan. “Our error was probably not having those experts in-house when we launched initially.”

Scott Howlett, principal and co-founder of imason, says they worked with the Workopolis team to identify needed skill sets and fill the gaps as needed, as well as help them recruit candidates to fill permanent roles as needed.

The imason team began working with Workopolis a last spring to develop a one-year technology roadmap for the company, looking at the team, their processes and their technology platform to develop the plan they’re executing on now.

“They have a fabulous team and a great business environment,” said Howlett. “Their team was very robust already; we just had to help them with some skills around the move to .Net.”

On the process front, Howlett says the Workopolis development team was very sophisticated but it was using manual processes. By introducing them to Microsoft Team Foundation and Visual Studio and helping them adopt it, he says they’re able to manage their development process more efficiently.

“They can push releases into production more often, and they can do it with more confidence because the whole release process is managed by a system versus being managed by people, where there’s more opportunities for mistakes to be made” said Howlett.

Workopolis’ Sullivan agrees they’re now able to move forward with new features and capabilities more quickly, meeting their original objectives for scalability and operating efficiency. As a result, he says they’re now bringing Web site changes into production bi-weekly, rather than monthly as before.

“We’re a little Canadian job site and we’re competing with people around the world, so we have to be efficient in the projects we chose and in our speed to market,” said Sullivan. “I don’t know if we’re going to launch the next big job site initiative, but we can look for best practices from around the world and bring them to market quicker than most.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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