A TYNESIDE tech consultancy has bolstered a key division and increased its headcount by 50 per cent since the beginning of the year despite the COVID lockdown.

Opencast Software has increased its team to 120 thanks to the additional recruits in its User Centred Design (UCD) service for projects in Government, health and social care, and global financial corporations.

Opencast specialises in building and running enterprise IT systems for the Government, key public bodies and global financial services.

In Spring the company announced profits had risen nearly 20 per cent while revenues had increased to £6m. Earlier this year Opencast expanded its senior leadership team in preparation for a period of growth.

“The number and range of clients continues to grow and we’ve had our four busiest months since the Spring, despite the COVID crisis,” said Opencast Managing Director Carl Shovlin.

“In response to an increase in work we’ve recruited software developers, DevOps engineers, testers and business analysts – and six additional members of our growing UCD team. Roles within that team include user researchers; user experience designers and content designers.”

Opencast’s Head of Corporate Development Tom Lawson explained: “Our UCD service has already proved to be in high demand with existing and new clients so we’re looking to recruit further specialists to the team before Christmas.

Tom described other target areas for further growth: “As well as UCD, we’ve also been growing our strategy and architecture, platform engineering and DevOps, data and software development services which are further key areas where we can help make things better for our clients, their customers and their people.

“We’ve been recruiting and onboarding throughout lockdown to cope with demand, and there’s no doubt the team will continue to grow – our strategic growth plan is for us to employ 300 people by 2025,”

Dr Miriam Boyles, Head of User Centred Design at Opencast, added: “UCD for us is about putting all users of a product or service at the heart of the design process, and we see this as an area of further expansion and great potential for Opencast. Many organisations just focus on the end customers when designing and building services, but delivering great experiences for your own employees is also vitally important for both productivity and employee retention.

“By increasing our capacity in this area, it gives us the opportunity to deepen our relationship with clients, to increase the impact we have in helping them create or transform products and services for all their users,” Miriam added.

While Opencast’s growth plan involves tripling the current workforce by 2025, it doesn’t involve relocating the company’s Tyneside HQ.

“We have clients in London and Edinburgh and we’ll be further expanding our footprint in Scotland, but our HQ will remain at Hoults Yard in Newcastle where we’ve been since launching in 2012,” said Carl.

“It’s satisfying to know that we’re providing critical solutions and services to major organisations from our Byker base, bringing all of this work to the region. We’re not the biggest in terms of size, but we continue to win contracts with these huge global corporations, Government departments and organisations,” he added.

Opencast clients include JP Morgan Chase and Co, Sage, NHS Business Services Authority, HMRC, DWP and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.

Opencast has been working on COVID and Brexit projects for a number of Government departments and major enterprises. The company is known for its expertise in the field of Agile software development, and either works collaboratively with clients in multidisciplinary teams or by providing a fully outsourced service.

“We have a reputation for delivering great results for our clients; having great people and for building software and systems the right way. No matter how big we become, this won’t change,” said Carl.



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