A (tax) year in review at Crunch

Technology is at the heart of Crunch. It allows us to offer our clients the great service they’ve come to expect. With the new tax year having just begun, there couldn’t be a better time to review what has happened in the last year.

The Technology team at Crunch has been incredibly busy. From improving our products, saving money, improving our processes and enhancing our architecture, we’ve achieved a monumental amount.

If you would like to learn more about the work we’ve been doing, this is the right place for you!

Accountancy Software

The teams have been working hard towards improving our software for our clients. Making Tax Digital is a government initiative which will eventually completely transform how individuals and businesses manage their tax in the UK. You can read more about how we introduced this to our software here:

Clients had also been asking for a long time to be able to have their bank statements automatically uploaded into the software. This hadn’t been possible for a large majority of banks, but now we have got our Open Banking initiative into a closed Beta:

Soon, we’re expecting to be able to release this to all our clients and we cannot wait for this to become a reality!

Some of our older software wasn’t originally developed with mobile devices in mind, but we are currently on a journey to make it more usable on many devices, accessible anytime and anywhere. By using the software now, you can see that the invoicing and expenses journey in particular are much more usable on mobile devices. This is just the beginning, so watch this space!

For more information on our latest software updates, this is the place for you:

Infrastructure

Hosting software for thousands of clients doesn’t come easy, or cheap. We’ve also wanted the development experience to be fantastic whilst enabling us to deliver value rapidly to our clients.

Continuous Deployment has become the norm here at Crunch now, but it has been a long road to get there, and we haven’t got to the end yet:

This hasn’t come cheap, and we’ve been working hard to reduce the costs associated with this. However, from doing this, we’ve actually been able to also improve the experience for the developers here. Flo, our Support and IT Manager, wrote two fantastic blog posts on this subject. You can find the first part here:

Process and Culture

We mainly use Scrum as a framework here at Crunch to help us improve as a team and a company. We’ve had to evolve in the past year for this to work well alongside Continuous Deployment. This has been an interesting journey:

We’ve also had to review how we manage incidents to ensure that the likelihood of them happening again has been significantly reduced:

A fantastic culture is key at Crunch and our Development Manager, Jamie, has shared what we have done to help achieve this:

Architecture

None of the above would be possible without having great architecture. We have been massively focussing on improving our architecture in the past year across our product base. This includes both our frontend architecture and our backend architecture.

We use style guide driven development and a component library to lead how our frontend appears and is structured. In the last year, we have been massively driving towards increasing the use of our component library across our product base, which has been a huge learning curve:

Alongside this, we’ve been working towards breaking down our monolithic application into a series of smaller microservices. This allows them to be easily maintained, making changes to these carry less risk, and allowing us to make smaller as well as safer deployments. Our Technical Architect, Andrew, has written about this:

The Website

It’s also been a busy 12 months for our shopfront. As our main source of leads, the importance of our website cannot be understated.

Since our current website launched in October 2017, traffic is the highest it’s ever been, with significantly more visitors actively engaging with us and expressing an interest in our products. This isn’t down to luck — we’ve been working really hard to improve several key areas of the website.

Two of our main objectives this past year have been to improve first impressions and make it easier to find content. With a new homepage, navigation, footer, and refreshes of our key landing pages, along with re-categorisation and optimisation of our 700+ help and advice articles, we’re now seeing visitors to our website stick around for longer.

We’ve also been addressing how potential customers engage with us via callback forms. Historically, we’ve used out-of-the-box web forms available as part of our marketing automation software, but these forms offer limited functionality and visual customisation. So we decided to make our own, bespoke forms.

To achieve this, we replaced an existing third-party callback form with our own “sexy” version, and in the months since it’s been introduced we have seen its completion rate double. What’s even better is that we now have our own reusable framework for web forms that can be easily repurposed whenever we need a new one. No more boring third party forms.

A great deal of tuning work has taken place under the bonnet, too. We’ve put in place a performance budget to ensure that our key landing pages load efficiently for our users, whilst a huge amount of our content has been optimised to help it rank well in search engine results.

Of course, these improvements form only the tip of the iceberg, and we have big plans for the next 12 months to build on all of the great work completed so far.

The future

The future at Crunch is very bright, and over the next year, we look forward to sharing more about what we’re doing here in the Technology team. We’ll continue to improve and will be always striving for the best.

If you would like to join us on this journey, please follow us, so you’ll be the first to know about what we’ve been doing!

Find out more about the Technology team at Crunch and our current opportunities here.

Or find out more about our latest software updates here.

We are the Crunch Technology Team. https://www.crunch.co.uk/

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