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Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is Scotland's national skills body, contributing to sustainable economic growth by supporting people and businesses to develop and apply their skills.

In 2023, an ambitious service blueprint aiming to develop easy-to-access, joined-up and personalised digital experiences for all was created. This required evolving Digital Services to a new technical architecture to more efficiently and effectively deliver this vision.

This included migration of datasets, and management of external APIs powering the services, to flow through a modern cloud native data platform: SDS chose Azure Synapse Analytics to fulfil this role.

This was a new technology for SDS, and they required consultative support from experts in this area to upskill the SDS Data Team and their .NET Developers as they worked to consolidate and migrate the data and build new HTTP APIs, enabling them to fully understand and exploit the functionality available.

Endjin helped the team to develop a clear and achievable migration plan, and to build quality assurance into the approach. Endjin supported the team as they modelled datasets, schema and architecture to enable future improvements to reporting and personalisation. This support was provided through endjin's Brain Trust, a pool of available expert support and coaching hours which could be drawn on as and when required.

We worked with Endjin as part of an ambitious project around consolidating and migrating data to a new stack and new processes. Their Microsoft Azure platform expertise, deep understanding of data strategy and management best practice and exemplary approach to insights completely changed how we thought about data. Our team is capable of things we would not have been able to do without their support.

Emily Glen, Data & Technology Manager, Skills Development Scotland

The unique selling point of the technical Brain Trust is getting access to the right person with the right skills at the right time, for a fixed hourly price, rather than a traditional staff augmentation model which involves "reserving" a person for a fixed period of time, on the off-chance that they might be needed or have the skills to help.

Central to this upskilling engagement was being able to assess progress within the team. A Data Team Maturity matrix was used to capture the specific goals and training tactics across the following areas, which guided the collaborative sessions:

  • Planning Work / Task Breakdown
  • API Design / Implementation
  • Data Modelling
  • Data Engineering
  • Master Data Management
  • Data Pipeline Development
  • Automated Testing
  • Version Control / Git
  • DevOps / DataOps
  • DTAP (Development, Testing, Acceptance, Production) Environments
  • Observability/Monitoring

Endjin worked alongside SDS's data team to establish data pipelines and associated deployment processes to ingest, process and project university course data from all Scottish higher education organisations to feed into the My World Of Work platform APIs. Endjin established Architecture Decision Records as a process for the team to capture and document the decisions they needed to make along the way, which was critical in helping them form a detailed understanding of a largely unfamiliar technical landscape.

As the engagement progressed and team maturity increased, endjin's involvement shifted from demonstration and pairing sessions, to guidance and review, providing guard rails while encouraging the team to be more independent with tasks. By increasing the team's capability and confidence to the required level to be self-sufficient, endjin future-proofed the delivery of digital services within SDS.

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