Four steps to an environmentally-sustainable business

Sopra Steria’s UK Aerospace Team recently attended the Paris Air Show, a landmark event held every other year that brings together all of the industry’s major players. This show is where deals are made, contracts are announced and the latest technologies and aircraft are unveiled. While Industry 4.0 and intelligent automation still dominate conversations, at this year’s show sustainability was propelled to the top of the agenda. Seven of the world’s largest companies – Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, GE Aviation, Rolls-Royce, Safran and United Technologies – joined together to commit to the development of cleaner, ‘greener’ aircraft and engines to reduce CO2 emissions.

In a statement issued during the show the Chief Technology Officers of the seven aviation leaders were keen to espouse the benefits of air travel, while emphasising the extent to which the industry is serious about reducing the impact of climate change:

‘Aviation connects our world by efficiently and rapidly moving people, opening new economic opportunities and transporting food and goods all over our planet. Aviation promotes global understanding, generating rich cultural exchanges and thereby contributing to peaceful co-existence.

At the same time, climate change has become a clear concern for our society. Humanity’s impact on the climate requires action on many fronts. The aviation industry is already taking significant action to protect the planet and will continue to do so.’

It seems that environmental sustainability has taken the world by storm, from the very corporate examples demonstrated at the Paris Air Show to the recent headline-grabbing pink yacht blockade of the Extinction Rebellion.

At Sopra Steria we are proud of our exemplary approach to sustainability, and, in the section below, share four practical actions that businesses can take to address their environmental impact.

Nudge

‘If you want someone to do something, make it easy’ said economist Richard Thaler in a recent TED Talk. Making it as easy as possible for employees to recycle, remember to switch off equipment and make plastic-free choices – so that it is no more effort than the alternative – is a great start. At Sopra Steria, we were able to divert 100% of our waste from landfill by having removed desk-side bins and ensured that refuse areas are clearly labelled. We are also working to replace plastic packaging with an alternative that is compostable, which will eliminate over 498,000 items of single-use plastics – equivalent in carbon emissions to eight flights from London to New York.

Demand

Businesses order a lot of things – from pencils to storage cabinets! Being mindful of a supplier’s environmental credentials in procurement is a great way for a small process tweak to have a significant impact. Feed back and feed forward; businesses can and should demand more from their supply chain when it comes to environmental concerns. Key suppliers to Sopra Steria are required to participate in our Sustainable Supply Chain Programme, including independent assessment and a requirement for them to manage supply chain risks proactively, establishing measures and targets. We have outlined an expectation with 90% of our key suppliers that they have greenhouse gas reduction targets in place by 2025.

Stay

Typically, most service companies’ emissions come from business travel. Although meeting face-to-face is beneficial for productive relationships within and outside of an organisation, it is vital that employees question whether routine meetings could be handled remotely to reduce their environmental impact. At Sopra Steria we encourage and equip our staff to work and meet remotely using tele- and video-conferencing technology. To make the environmental cost of business travel more explicit we introduced shadow carbon pricing, which has led to a reduction in emissions per employee from business travel of 20.9% from 2015 levels.

Practise

…what you preach. Don’t just focus on the changes that can be effected internally – pass on best practices to customers too. At Sopra Steria all services are certified CarbonNeutral®, which we enhance with our formalised Sustainable Service Delivery (SSD) approach to managing economic, social and environmental concerns as an integrated part of our work with clients. SSD establishes a sustainability policy and a programme of improvement initiatives that are tailored to our customers and their own sustainability and social value priorities.

The United Nations’ recently declared that we could have just 11 years left to limit a climate change catastrophe, so the time for businesses to act is now.

Keeping clients one step ahead – the DigiLab story (Part #2)

Immersion. Inspiration. Ideation. Implementation.

Digital transformation projects are often mission-critical, and therefore usually urgent. There’s a need to quickly unearth and interrogate challenges, sift the solution options and get things into test and development. To get this process powerfully kick-started, we start by immersing our customers in a rich universe of use cases, latest technologies and sector insight helping them bounce off best-practice learning and quickly leap-frog ahead.

Why cross-fertilize between sectors?

When the genetic material of two parents is recombined in nature, it delivers a greater variability on which natural selection can act. This increases a species’ ability to adapt to its changing environment and boosts its chances of survival. The same is true with transformation projects: the greater the importing, mixing and cross-fertilization of ideas from other sectors, processes and initiatives, the stronger and more adaptable products and services become.

Goodbye tail-chasing and closed loops

Silicon Valley is a great example of how cross-fertilization leads to innovation. As one of the most innovative ecosystems in the world, it nurtures a culture that is open to new people and thinking, promoting the healthy circulation of fresh ideas and profitable exploration of approaches outside their own industries and business practices. Similarly, using cross-fertilization lets us proactively free ourselves from cognitive immobility so we stop going around in circles, locked in our own stale and habitual thinking.

By transposing proven use cases and adapting systems already developed by another industry, we can:

  • Invent a platform for true market disruption breaking away from locked in patterns
  • Implement faster because preparatory work is already in place
  • Greatly reduce time to market and increase the possibility of competitive advantage
  • Co-create innovation with other client organizations to reduce costs
  • Connect with like-minded leaders around results and user experience to aid buy-in

The Armed Forces community and the corporate world; transferable skills to add business value

This weekend, more than 300 events were held across the UK to mark Armed Forces Day.

As an Armed Forces Corporate Covenant signatory Sopra Steria encouraged employees to support their local events, in order to acknowledge the community who protect our nation with honour and courage.

The Armed Forces community – including not only veterans, but reservists, cadet instructors and spouses of serving members – plays a vital role in the fabric of Sopra Steria UK. This is not an accident; the Armed Forces equip individuals with exceptional training, resourcefulness and transferable skills, all of which can enhance an organisation’s effectiveness.

However, the civilian workplace can sometimes be a worrying prospect for a member of the Armed Forces community – particularly new veterans who may be struggling to adapt to their new way of life. A Sopra Steria employee recounts: ‘I thought leaving the military after 25 years and moving into the corporate world would be extremely daunting.’ Happily the employee in question grew to recognise that the skills he gained were extremely valuable to the business: ‘They helped me to see that skills and experience I had gained over the years were transferable, which immediately put my mind at ease, making my transition into the civilian world so much easier.’

This is sadly not the case for all veterans, as outlined by the charity Veterans Work following a recent report: ‘Across the country, three in ten businesses admit they have not even considered employing veterans. While the majority claim to be more open minded, 60 per cent of businesses rule out recruiting someone if they have no industry specific experience. There are roughly 700,000 veterans currently in employment, over half find themselves in routine, low-skilled or low-paid jobs. It is an alarming waste of talent.’ In this company we recognise the potential in Service veterans, even if they often don’t recognise it themselves.

It is in the interest of businesses like ours to facilitate such transitions by creating welcoming and supportive working environments, underpinned by core values; this resonated with me when I joined Sopra Steria as an Armed Forces veteran. We have more work to do as part of our pro-active Armed Forces Engagement Initiative, but I’m proud to lead a team that includes many members of the Armed Forces community who are thriving and fulfilled in their careers.

Vern Davis, Head of Aerospace, Defence & Security

ESG Charity Week: Raising money for The Police Arboretum Memorial Trust

Last week our Emergency Services sector hosted a charity week in the Holborn office to support the UK Police Arboretum Memorial Trust. We want to show our continued support for the Police Forces by raising awareness during this week.

Police Arboretum Memorial Trust

The Police Arboretum Memorial Trust started in 2015, to establish a new UK Police Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, the nation’s year-round place for remembrance, ceremony and quiet reflection. They are currently undertaking a campaign to raise at least £4 million to design, build and maintain the new UK Police Memorial. Since 1749 and the creation of the Bow Street Runners, as the world’s first recognised police service, more than 4,000 men and women have given their lives to serve and protect our communities in the UK.

The vision for the new memorial is to pay tribute to the UK’s police service and to honour the dedication, courage and sacrifice of its members who have given their lives to serve and protect their communities, complementing other police memorials around the UK. The new memorial has been designed in consultation with police family stakeholders and will include permanent inscription of the names of both officers and staff who have sustained injuries and subsequently died in the discharge of their lawful duties. Cut-outs of the Memorial fabric will be engraved with the names of the fallen and given to their families as permanent keepsakes for remembrance. The Trust will ensure that an investment fund is available at the end of the project to maintain the Memorial for the nation and to be used to help support the families of the fallen, in partnership with other organisations who provide care.

The Week

The Monday went really well as we worked closely with the Community Matters week combining the Mario Kart competition with the bake-off to great effect. Day 1 of Mario Kart led to fierce competition within the Grad and Digital Practice communities. It was so fierce that David Machin spent most of Monday night trying to beat the fastest track time.

The Tuesday initially started off slowly with the sponging of Muz Janoowalla. At first, people seemed  reluctant to throw sponges at him (maybe fearing for their jobs). However, all it took was one person to participate, which then led to a big scene in the kitchen area. We even had additional volunteers from the office to get sponged to ensure their teams got involved!

On Thursday there was a “Games and Grub” lunch, which involved another competitive day of Mario Kart, games such as Connect 4 and UNO, and various refreshments. More than a dozen people participated in the games and overall it was a huge success.

We hope that all Sopra Steria, Holborn based employees enjoyed themselves and if you would still like to donate you can by following this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/esgcharityweek2019

Keeping clients one step ahead – the DigiLab story (Part #1)

Stasis is the enemy of success

Sopra Steria is lucky to work with some the world’s most exciting companies. It’s our job to help them transform digitally, across sectors as diverse as education, hospitality and aerospace. That means our organization is packed with know-how, experience and progressive thinking. Clients trust us to roll out integrated IT platforms and modernize their application stacks, but they are not always aware of how innovative, disruptive and forward-thinking our organization can be. This is why DigiLabs exists

In 2014, Eric Maman — one of our senior innovation consultants — decided to create a dedicated hub ruthlessly focused on innovation: cross-fertilized, federated, multi-disciplinary. A way for clients to immerse themselves in the wealth of Sopra Steria insight across our areas of expertise, sectors and technologies and turbo-charge their own digital transformation projects to rapidly eliminate waste and create new value.

He created the first DigiLabs based at our Paris HQ — today we have 24 innovation hubs around the world working as one seamless network from France, Spain and the UK to Germany, Norway, India and Singapore. This series of blogs tells their story and explains how public and private sector organizations are working with DigiLabs right now to foster creativity, strengthen idea generation and transform perennial operational problems into feasible and profitable new ways of working. Because in today’s fast-moving world, standing still is a dangerous strategy .

Shaping smarter thinking, together

Delivering tech for tech’s sake is not the DigiLab way. Instead we shape innovation around our customers’ most urgent use-cases, asking ourselves: can we harness the best of what’s out there to craft robust new approaches and think in exciting new ways about their challenges, audiences and stakeholders?

Through the DigiLab experience, customers work with our expert teams to:

  • Brainstorm creatively around technology, people and process
  • Identify pains and weakness with field observation and interviews
  • Anticipate new uses of performance-enhancing technologies
  • Create robust use-cases for innovation, supported by best-practice learning
  • Cross-fertilize insight from sectors to adapt and optimize solution design
  • Roll out innovation enterprise-wide and keep it current as the world changes

Hourglass: Transparent Timekeeping

How a simple conversation with a client about time-keeping led to some late nights, reflection on project tracking & a simple progressive web app…

Good morning/afternoon/evening (delete as appropriate)!

My name is Bryce Wilson; Lead UI developer for the UK Design Team based in Edinburgh. I currently work across multiple projects and platforms and it can be hard to track what I work on and for whom. For the client, it can be frustrating when they can’t get a fixed timeline on my availability.

Around the same time I was coming to the end of ‘yet-another-notepad’ scribble of loose time keeping, I had a chat with one of the project managers for a fantastic client I work with.

He was concerned that he wasn’t able to have a visible overview of all the contractors and consultants in his team. This is primarily down to the flexibility the project offers to the team; early starts, late finishes, working from home on occasions etc.

This screamed out an opportunity to fill a few needs with one deed:

  • Upskill myself on a few new technologies I’ve been itching to try
  • Get rid of my legion of notepads with illegible cave drawings and scribbles
  • Supply a very cool and awesome client with a solution that will enable them to continue providing us with a flexible working environment
  • Demonstrate to the wider community a landslide of user-centered design approaches being developed daily within the UK Design Team (headed up by Luke Jeavons) such as:
    • User Journeys – A visual representation of a path a user may take to reach their goal when using a particular product or service.
    • Usability Testing – To validate the effectiveness of the design and the way the user interacts with the system. This can highlight potential inconsistencies and issues with the product or service.
    • Wireframes – A visual guide that represents the page structure, as well as its hierarchy and key elements.
    • Interactive Prototypes – To show how interactive elements will work. Enables the product or service to be visualised, tested and validated before further development.
    • + much more

After speaking with some fellow upstanding colleagues, I took it upon myself to define an MVP backlog of simple requirements:

  • Allow access to a ‘clock-in’ system via any device and bypass any requirements for an installation
  • Login with work email
  • Allow manual entries of working hours
  • Allow a clock in/out feature
  • Keep it simple, avoid that (points in horror at existing time reporting tools in the market)

Given this was a pet project I didn’t want to overreach and take focus away from day-to-day within the Compass project and the Design Team so I gathered my weapons of choice and began.

Frameworks & Services

In order to maximize the time and effort spent getting this from farm to fork:

  • Contentful – an AMAZING headless CMS that has insane API control and access. I have utilized this to store and retrieve data in a fully secure environment
  • Vue.js – The MacDaddy of JS frameworks. I work with Angular, React, Node, etc and Vue.js slays them all dead. End of.
  • Element.io – A clean and simple Vue.js orientated components library for all the basic needs
  • Azure – The Sopra Steria single sign-on application front
  • Heroku – Free and simple app hosting with CD/CI Pipelines
  • Custom Node.js API Service – I have developed a customised API service to enable continuity of other applications I have created (regardless of framework) to knit together user and information

It started with a few hours in the evenings while my expectant wife lay on the couch binge watching Forensic Files (If I suddenly disappear, you know who to point the finger at!) I melted into my coding chair and got to work.

A few nights in and it begins to take shape; implementing simple features such as project and team control which is operated in the Contentful Dashboard. This allows me to add additional projects as they come up.

The first release of the app to my inner circle highlighted some interesting results:

  • Observation: One user found it difficult to navigate their way back to the current week & also found it time consuming to try to get to December for example, to input time
  • Suggestion:
    • Implement a ‘jump-to’ week selector where it displays the week information; allowing the user to easily jump forward or backwards in time
    • Always have ‘current week’ at the top of list to highlight the current week
  • Observation: Initial version did not allow for non-project codes such as holidays, training or meetings to be logged
  • Suggestion:
    • Allow time to be logged to ‘non-project’ codes through the same interface
    • Allow team leaders to see these days on the team leader view. This allows the project leader to see upcoming days where we might not be utilized. It’s no fun for the client sifting emails and syncing calendars to see why ‘Dave’ hasn’t shown up today!

Reaping the Hard Miles

A few seasons into Forensic Files (my wife at this point now knows how to dispose of a body in 50 different ways, just saying) and we start to have something testable!

As the app is cloud based I fired out a link to a few trusted amigo’s and it seemed we were pretty close to the mark!

With the intended users now having something tangible in their hands, the next goal was to give the client the keys to the kingdom – an external (or internal) team leader view.

A non Sopra Steria user can be set up within the system to retrieve all entries which are assigned to their project, including holidays, sickness etc.

Given that a lot of our teams are also internal, a Sopra Steria employee can also have a team control panel if they are assigned a team leader role.

The Verdict

After picking a handful of users to test the app, we took a period of 1 week to collect initial feedback and log any issues.

Each user was asked to carry out specific tasks and report back, for example:

  • Successful and unsuccessful clock-in/clock-out experiences
  • Test on different devices and networks (firewall etc)
  • Log upcoming holidays

The feedback from actual ‘live’ usage resulted as:

  • Request ability to add ‘half-day’ non-project events
  • Improve performance for older Android phones (now complete)
  • Return to same week that a logging was added to (now complete)

The client is very happy with the outcome so far and has adopted this very early MVP into the projects daily routine!

There is still A LOT to add to Hourglass but given its been about 40 hours of development from a single developer and some fantastic sound advice and guidance from the UK Design Team – I reckon it’s not half bad!

If you would like to ask any questions, please get in touch :

bryce.wilson@soprasteria.com

Digital transformation and organised crime: how Sopra Steria’s expertise could equip Police Forces to reduce offences

Vern Davis, Head of Aerospace, Defence and Security at Sopra Steria, has been featured in the latest issue of ADS Advance to outline how adoption of technological best practices could equip the UK’s Police Force to address the rise in serious and organised crime (SOC). Impacting more citizens than any other national security threat, SOC costs the UK an estimated £37 billion a year – a figure projected to increase if no action is taken in the immediate future.

Currently, information vital for the identification of serial criminals is distributed across local IT platforms; a practice that limits the Force’s ability to share intelligence internally.

In the article Vern outlines how legacy systems, processes and partners could be leveraged to improve the sharing of this vital intelligence, bridging connectivity and data gaps that currently limit the Force’s knowledge management capability.

Read the full article: https://www.adsadvance.co.uk/data-sharing-to-fight-soc.html