Building the NHS App: An interview with UK IT finalist Zuhlke

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Building the NHS App: An interview with UK IT finalist Zuhlke
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Building the NHS App: An interview with UK IT finalist Zuhlke

The NHS Covid-19 app saved tens of thousands of lives, and was built in just 12 weeks

The UK IT Industry Awards honour the most outstanding companies operating in UK IT - but while they must be doing significant and innovative work in the UK to succeed, they don't need to have grown there. We talked to Neil Moorcroft, managing director of customer solutions at Swiss company Zuhlke, about its entry for Development Team of the Year.

Neil Moorcroft

Who is Zuhlke Engineering?

Zuhlke Engineering Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Zuhlke Group. The first group company was formed in 1968 and has been providing consulting, development and integration services in the field of product and software engineering for more than 40 years. With local teams in Austria, Germany, Serbia, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Portugal, Vietnam and the United Kingdom, we currently employ around 1,600 staff. 

All Zuhlke Group companies develop bespoke software applications in a large number of application domains. Collectively Zuhlke Group companies have successfully completed some 15,000 development projects and now has a turnover of over CHF 180 million Swiss Francs.

What makes Zuhlke different?

Zuhlke's vast expertise and experience of delivering mobile engineering in a heavily regulated environment is a unique benefit.  Our background in building digital and mobile solutions at scale and against stringent security requirements means that Zuhlke has the ability to scale a service to tens of millions of users, 24 hours a day.

Native mobile development - API architecture, testing, automation, pipelines, environments, branching strategy, controls, definitions of ready and done (compliance with App Store and Play Store release requirements). 

Design research - Customer-centric design thinking to ensure development investment targets the right services.

Digital Service Innovation - Develop seamless and frictionless end-to- end customer journeys, understand client's users' real needs to create value and enable innovation, deliver at speed and reduce time-to-market and build fully integrated, cross-functional design and engineering teams. 

Zuhlke's Service Blueprints - With over 10,000 successful projects delivered globally, Zuhlke has developed specific, repeatable, service blueprints which address many of today's largest digital transformational challenges and these assets can be used as accelerators.  

Digital at Scale is a systemic review and program of improvement for complex IT/digital ecosystems specifically created for transforming organisations and the technology that supports it. 

Data-driven user journeys - Using machine learning (data science and engineering) to understand users' behaviours to provide useful and timely insights and to suggest products or services that others have reacted well to. 

Helping to create data-driven organisations is the key to making your organisation data-driven to focus on action and progress.

What is your proudest company achievement in the last 12 months?

The NHS COVID-19 App, built by Zuhlke, saved up to 13,500 lives and averted around 600,000 Covid cases in its first three months alone, according to a peer-reviewed scientific paper published this month in the highly respected journal Nature.

The App was downloaded 21.6 million times in 2020, representing 56 per cent of the eligible population. We developed the app in under 12 weeks: a team of 75 Zuhlke engineers worked around the clock across seven countries worldwide. 

What are you working on this year?

Zuhlke is working on a number of projects across industry. These cover delivering mobile applications in a regulated healthcare environment; banking; services to the wider community; and improving the customer experience and service for Royal Mail. 

Here are a few examples: 

Co-operative Funeral care - Delivering the overall customer experience for funeral services.

  • Services include delivery management, solution architecture, DevOps, front-end development (ReactJS), Java back-end engineering, and testing.

Royal Mail - Helping design and build the new application for customers.

  • Services include delivery management, solution architecture, service design and user experience.

How do you perceive events like the UK IT Industry Awards?

Events like these are important: they recognise major achievements in the IT industry and congratulate organisations who have excelled in their specialised area of expertise to make a significant impact in the industry.

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