Tech Talk #8- GWS Labor Projects Success story
Heal the labor
Does the common phrase - “to make the world a better place” still mean anything for real or is this, well just another worn out cliche, usually lacking any actual plan of action? It is obviously hard or thankfully impossible, to tell for sure but it appears that in SolDevelo we have been happy enough to observe how an everyday effort and hard work turn into something of a true, priceless social impact. In fact, we have been able to notice that something powerful is going on for quite a while now. Since April 2015 to be precise.
Labor Projects - what is that for?
The story which began just then became the subject of our #8 Tech Talk devoted to the great success of Labor Projects - a result of a fruitful cooperation between the non-profit enterprise Good World Solutions and our SolDevelo team. The final LaborLink is a solution which uses mobile technologies, currently active in 16 countries, that enables collecting a real-time feedback from workers who are employed in factories based mostly in Asia and therefore to monitor the working conditions efficiently through the individually adjusted questionnaires. LaborLink was recently acquired in September by a company ELEVATE which will hopefully ensure this solution's expansion and also confirm it's success for good.
Our speaker at this Tech Talk was Krzysztof Witczak - a developer engaged in the Labor Projects who decided to share the history of his and his team efforts to boost the quality of a labor world. No wonder that Krzysztof started from outlining the needs underlying the idea of creating solutions for improving labor conditions.
The size of clothing industry used to make it really challenging for large companies to keep an eye on every cell within their supply chains. The factories typically located in still developing countries, due to lower costs of production seemed too distant both geographically and culturally, restraining top managers from developing an accurate picture of local workers' conditions. Knowing about the potential risks of employees exploitation or forced labor didn't necessarily mean that there were tools available to prevent or at least investigate such violations. Some means were obviously accessible but the time and expenses consumed by sending auditors to factories so they could conduct individual surveys among workers and then prepare a detailed report were effectively stopping companies from making such assessments a more frequent practice.
Luckily, thanks to the innovation observed among factory workers, new ways of solving the problem could be invented. Employees began to carry cell phones along with them during a regular workday and that was the moment when Good World Solutions walked in! The idea was simple - to create a solution that would access workers directly on the other side of the world, conduct surveys through their mobile phones. Introducing a cell phone to the process of surveying enables the participants to deliver their answers whenever it is suitable for them, which may help in getting higher response rates for instance (especially that there are prizes awarded after the survey completion). Also the anonymity of workers’ replies prevents third parties from identifying a questionnaire of a particular participant. Having all the basic benefits of mobile revolution listed it is fair to say that this is how the history of LaborLink started! Krzysztof talked us through all stages of this project development.
LaborIQ - smart about labor
Let's get back to April 2015. Good World Solutions (GWS) and SolDevelo joined their forces to get a four-people team going. At that stage, the mechanism of gathering survey answers from workers through phone calls was already working, the data collection still needed some extra dose of automation though. The data couldn't be loaded into the LaborIQ system (responsible for data analysis) without being manually cleaned first. Since raw data from workers could be contaminated through data providers errors, differences between them, worker errors, or even manipulation attempts, scanning the data and scanning them fast was crucial. Labor IQ 2.0 was released in July 2015. This version of LaborIQ already possessed an automated data cleaning mechanism, and also a couple of more mobile service providers available.
The increased number of providers was in fact a real breakthrough. It happens that the mobile service does not work well and the need to change a provider occurs. Having such a possibility enhances the functionality and stability of the whole LaborLink solution. But how to find out and decide if a service of a particular provider is of a good quality? That’s the role of LaborPulse which is supposed to ensure that the mobile service provider works well without disruptions. Once the quality is not satisfactory, LaborPulse may suggest switching to another provider, so it is really beneficial to have more than one in a country. To perform its job, LaborPulse measures for example such parameters as completion rate or callback rate. The works on LaborPulse started in September 2015.
Both LaborIQ and LaborPulse weren't systems dedicated to potential customers though, so at this stage of solution development, clients still wouldn't be able to obtain information through a clean and accessible interface covering all the necessary features. Creating a customer-friendly MyLaborLink, displaying key process indicators, charts and visualizations for specific clients, based on data gathered and analyzed through LaborIQ system started in March 2016 and took the GWS and SolDevelo team only 3 months until the first release!
From now on companies got a chance to keep an eye on workers' job satisfaction, safety, factory conditions, working hours and wages in a remote, efficient way. The scope of the offered solution grew even bigger when LaborLink started its own data warehouse. During a period from 2015 to December 2017, LaborLink increased its reach from 250 000 to 1 097 372 workers in 16 countries and is still spreading. To name only a few clients and partners of LaborLink, let's bring for example Marks&Spencer, The Walt Disney Company, C&A or Vodafone.
Acquisition - the measure of success
The further growth will be certainly visible especially now, for a couple of months ago a company specialized in consulting, analytics and program management - ELEVATE decided to acquire LaborLink, confirming its real success and continue the noble work of making factories safer and working conditions satisfactory for more and more workers around the world.
SolDevelo - challenge accepted!
What is most important for us in SolDevelo is the opportunity to take part in something as life-changing as LaborLink. Krzysztof, Radosław, and Adrian who made our part of LaborLink team faced many challenges during this project, they had to learn Ruby almost from scratch and adjust their skills to the completely new requirements. And they did it! A justified pride! We are extremely proud and grateful for sharing this success story during our #8 Tech Talk. It was really good to acknowledge that great things happen so close to us. Perhaps the world might once become that better place everyone is talking about. Let's wish all the best for the LaborLink and ELEVATE cooperation and stay tuned for next big news!