Staffing Schools With Custom Web & Mobile Applications

C# SQL JavaScript Web Application
Featured image for Penmac & Active Logic's case study.

Who Is Penmac Staffing?

Penmac Staffing is the nation's largest 100% employee-owned staffing agency based out of Springfield, Missouri. They are proud to work alongside 600+ partnering companies to fill 20,000+ jobs in 8 different states. While they can work in virtually any industry, they primarily focus on manufacturing, transportation, education, and other sectors.

Their motto of "We Place People First" continues to be at the forefront of their operations. Each and every day they continue to place great people with great companies to better their futures. It all begins by first understanding the goals of not just the business seeking team members, but the team members themselves.

The best part about their service offering?

It comes at a no-cost to the job seeker. They simply receive the tools to guide them further in their career.

The Challenge - A Legacy System Nightmare

Originally Penmac utilized the out-of-box web application, Frontline Education, to assist in the daily operations of substitute teacher staffing. Originally, the applicant tracking system (ATS) served its purpose and provided value to Penmac, but quickly became difficult to operate. As they continued to grow, they sought more personalized features from the system that simply were not available. It was at this point that they realized the need to begin searching for custom web application developers for their expertise.

This was a step in the right direction.

They partnered with a local Springfield development agency to tackle the custom ATS development utilizing the Microsoft .NET framework. Throughout their engagement, they established plans to include a custom mobile application in the new system. Although things looked up for them briefly, they were quickly met with even larger problems.

Once the tailored applicant tracking system was in a workable state, Penmac's requests began to take longer to be implemented. When the tasks were finally completed, they strayed away from the designated requirements of Penmac. This lack of collaboration between the teams led to perpetual friction and decreased productivity as a whole.

Issues continued to arise until they inevitably decided to migrate development partners to us here at Active Logic. By this time, the code had been manipulated by several developers, leaving it in a rough state to resume development. This didn't stop our team of expert custom application developers from being able to optimize the overall system.

The Proposed Solution - Creating Order Out of Chaos

Once we dove into our research, design, & planning (RDP) phase, we better understood the complexities of this project. The legacy systems that were being used were structured around an ASP.NET boilerplate, or "template". The boilerplate used an array of different components that, over time, became intertwined with each other and difficult to manipulate.

Although the code was in rough shape, we advised Penmac to revise both applications rather than starting from a greenfield state. This approach allowed for the system to be updated on a continuous basis as development is completed. Not only does this prevent downtime of Penmac's team, but it let new features be implemented as desired. The blended & agile-esque approach taken allowed Penmac's goals to lead the direction of our development efforts.

Custom Mobile Application Development

Built from the ground up from their previous development partner, Penmac's mobile application was inoperable on both iOS & Android devices. Any development that helped the system on iOS hindered the application on Android devices, and vice versa. To resolve this, we migrated portions of the codebase to ReactPHP. Using React, the mobile application is able to request data from the original Microsoft.NET web application & display it on users' devices.

Once back up and running, Penmac's custom mobile application was able to drastically streamline the shift sign-up process. Both Android & iOS users had access to all available shifts on the go for complete accessibility. With ease, they can now filter through shifts in available locations & sign up for the work they desire. Each action is then synced to the admin dashboard in the web application to allow entire districts to be serviced simultaneously.

Visualized Data With Tailored Business Intelligence Integrations

To allow Penmac to grow alongside its goals, its leadership wanted to pay attention to its business intelligence (BI) integration capabilities. They previously utilized tools offered by GrapeCity but consistently faced roadblocks with day-to-day reporting tasks. Customizations were slim to none, and any desired updates routinely took longer than expected. This sparked the decision of utilizing another off-the-shelf solution, or a tailored system.

Rather than using an out-of-box BI solution with minimal functionality, we decided a custom system was the best option. Penmac identified certain pain points which they wanted to focus on, and we constructed the features to assist. With these new features accessible on both desktop & mobile platforms, the integration provides a modular interface that users can easily customize to their liking.

Saving Precious Time With Scheduled Jobs

To help school administrators save time & improve efficiency, the new applicant tracking system automatically takes care of monotonous reporting needs. Administrators are able to specify the guidelines of the report (content, frequency, recipients, etc.) and set them to send automatically. Should there be changes that need to be made, edits can be executed on the fly without interrupting the sending schedule.

Automating such tedious tasks not only frees up the schedules of school administrators but also minimizes the risk of mistakes. No longer does human error play a factor in manual data entry. Reports are now executed with precision and accuracy to verify the correct strategic decisions are made in the future.

Simplified Notifications With Automatic Email System

Penmac's ATS has a plethora of different moving parts to assist with scheduling substitute teachers across hundreds of schools nationwide. Each time a shift is offered, substitute teachers need to be made aware so they have the opportunity to sign up. On the other hand, when shifts are signed up for, the schools/universities need to be made aware. These tedious & repetitive notifications are perfect for email automation; which is exactly what we did.

Using Office 365 alongside C#, we modified the application tracking system to make sure shift notifications were sent to the correct audience(s) in real-time. When a school posts a shift to the ATS, each substitute teacher in the area is immediately notified via e-mail. The school is then immediately notified when a substitute claims a shift through the web application to minimize downtime. Going forward, administrators are able to create additional, customized notifications that need to be sent as they progress.

The Result - A Streamlined Substitute Staffing System

(Try saying that five times fast...)

With a fully functional, customized ATS, Penmac is now well-equipped to serve its partnering school districts across the nation. No longer will administration or substitute teachers be hindered or delayed throughout the posting or claiming of open shifts. Everyone is immediately notified of updates that pertain to them and can access necessary information with just a few simple clicks.

For Penmac themselves, the new software solution provides a rigid foundation for future scaling & growth. Rather than being committed to lengthy SaaS agreements, they have complete ownership of a tailored software system and its accompanying data. They have freed themselves of month-to-month lease payments and simply pay as they choose to expand their systems.

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