MYOB acquired PayGlobal in 2015 and one of the systems inherited was a datacentre that hosted the service in Auckland, and was fast reaching its use by date, says Trevor Leybourne, head of delivery at the company.
MYOB wanted to lift and shift the infrastructure to the AWS data centre in Sydney.
“The objective of the project was to renew the technology, provide the service to both New Zealand and Australia, provide the ability to scale as and when we needed and to allow us to easily grow as we acquired more customers.”
The challenge was the scale of the databases that needed to be moved and the complexity of the integrations that various customers had, he says. The measure of success was simple – move the data centre with the goal that our customers were not aware we had moved (other than a URL update).
The overall project took almost 12 months and was completed and delivered only one week later than originally conceived. The delay was due to the complexities of one customer running Windows XP systems that would not work with the later Windows operating systems we had used.
“The operational impact is that we no longer need to physically manage a rack of infrastructure. We do not need to go into a data centre to swap out disks or remove backups.
“We can scale a server as and when we need to. We can backup or restore data as and when we need to and can extend the service without physically needing to touch hardware.
“We have reduced the number of people who were needed to run the service and have provided a more reliable service to our customers, while providing a platform for our sales team to confidently sell now and in the future,” Leybourne says.
He encourages teams to innovate and run a test and learn philosophy at MYOB.
“We do this by allowing our teams to try new things without the fear of failing. We also provide structured opportunities to try new things as a team and do this through our hack days.”
Hack days allow teams to experiment and take the ideas into either the company’s internal process or its products.
“In our last hack day, we invited Amazon Web Services and Microsoft to join our teams and to build new ideas.”
The hack days were a cross-region (Auckland, Christchurch and Sydney) hackday that involved not only the product development and IT teams, but also the wider business such as marketing, sales and services.
One of the challenges that MYOB faces as an organisation is adjusting to the demands of its call centre – knowing how many people the company will need at any given time to answer the phones.
“We have a staff member who spends about 50 per cent of his time doing projects to solve this problem.
“At the recent hack days, we had two teams who put both Amazon and Microsoft machine learning to the test to automate this challenge. The results after the two-day hackdays showed a 95 per cent accuracy rate based on historical inputs and actual data.
“We are looking to implement this tool into our business in the near future and believe it will benefit the business greatly.”
He does not set a specific percentage of time allocated to innovations, nor does he limit innovation as he expects everyone to innovate in small steps every day.
“We look to provide opportunities for our teams to innovate while still ‘keeping the lights on’. A large part of what we do is product development, which provides the ability for innovations to happen within the products and services that we build and operate.
“We work closely with our vendors and partners and utilise them to provide different inspiration to our teams. Organisations such as Microsoft and Amazon are constantly releasing new services that our teams can leverage in their day-to-day work.
“We get these vendors to join us in our hack days and they are active in our slack channels, answering questions and providing guidance. They also present to our teams on new services that are available, which inspires our teams to look for ways to use these services in the products we build.”
Leybourne is involved in the decision making of several management teams (New Zealand, Engineering and Practice Solution with influence on the Enterprise Solutions management team).
“From a technology standpoint, I make the decisions on how we build solutions and the approach that we will take. This is managed through explaining the pros and cons of different options and the reasons behind selecting a certain path.
“I have a team of around 175 people and take feedback and ideas from them, letting them make decisions but backing them in their approach when I represent them at the management team level.”
He is a member of multiple senior management teams and regularly reports on the projects his team is working on.
“All of the work that we do is aimed towards delivery of services to our customers and the requirements for these services come from our customers, through our product management teams,various market teams and external partners.
“As well, I regularly present at our annual partner conference(s) on the progress we are making in our products, the innovations and processes that we are developing.
“We produce cloud and desktop software, ranging from the simple to the sophisticated for our clients (SMEs) and partners (accountants, bookkeepers and certified consultants).
“We deliver a choice of solutions that simplify accounting, payroll, practice management, CRM, job costing, websites and more,” Leybourne says.
MYOB recently launched a graduate programme working with Auckland universities and this year the company will be taking on three female graduates as software engineers, in its Auckland office.
“I regularly encourage our teams and team members to grow and look for opportunities for career development. During 2016 three engineers were promoted into development lead roles to start their journey into management. These roles are mentored through our senior managers and we offer a large number of internal, external and e-learning courses on leadership, to help these individuals on the leadership journey.
“On a personal level I have worked with, coached and mentored one of my leaders from running a small team of 10 and a single project five years ago, through to being a member of a divisional management team and being responsible for eight to 10 go to market products and services across multiple locations throughout New Zealand.
“This was achieved through mentoring, providing opportunities, coaching the individual as that person grew in capability and championing the staff member’s abilities to the executive team. This person is now in a position to replace me should I decide to move on,” says Leybourne.