SPF Seniorerna are rejuvenated using Optimizely

SPF Seniorerna has upgraded and modernized its web platform with a cost-effective and innovative approach. Using an agile upgrade method, the organization has been able to lift its former unstable platform to the latest version of Optimizely without operational disruptions and with minimal resources. Among other things, the upgrade has resulted in higher performance, optimal availability and improved administration and external communication.

“With Precio Fishbone's highly creative and agile methodology, we have managed to upgrade our former unreliable web platform in a secure and cost-effective manner. From a sluggish and complex platform, with a constant concern for operational disruptions, we now have a very reliable solution with high availability, performance and functionality! In addition to the fact that we can now, for the first time in a long time, rely on the site being available 24/7, it has also become significantly easier and more enjoyable to work with and publish content on the platform. Consequently, our editors are more active today, which also boosts our website traffic, says Sabina Brogård, IT manager at SPF Seniorerna.

Monumental upgrade with minimal changes

SPF Seniorerna - The Swedish Association for Senior Citizens - is a non-profit, non-political and non-religious membership organization that works to ensure that Sweden has the best possible elderly policy and forms opinion on all important elderly issues.

The organization's most prioritized issues are the elderly's finances, health and care, housing and the right to work. Anyone who is entitled to a pension in Sweden, regardless of age, can become a member of SPF Seniorerna. Today there are close to a quarter of a million members in 26 districts and around 750 associations around the country.

SPF Seniorerna previously had a relatively old Episerver-based web platform that was perceived as difficult and cumbersome by its 1300 editors and suffered from both performance and operational problems.

“We often went home worried that the platform would crash during the night and our editors constantly complained about the admin interface. The integration between our membership system and the web platform was also too tightly coupled, leading to performance issues and outages. The situation became unsustainable”, says Jimmy Högberg, Communicator at SPF Seniorerna.

The organization therefore decided in autumn 2020 that the platform needed to be changed and began examining the market for web platforms as well as talking to several suppliers. Most recommended them to throw out Episerver (now Optimizely) and rebuild the web from scratch with a completely new platform. The management was hesitant about the idea as it would have been very costly, time- and process-consuming, while also causing long downtimes.

“We really wanted to make as few changes as possible to both the website and the admin portal. Partly because we didn’t want to make it even more difficult for our editors, but also so that our operations wouldn’t be affected by the system change. Precio Fishbone's project manager Henrik Staberg was the only one of all the consultants who thought ‘outside the box’. He suggested that we keep the platform and structure and upgrade the system step-by-step, one version at a time, in order to minimize disruptions and the need for change”, Sabina explains.

Precio Fishbone was assigned responsibility for the continuous management and development of the web platform in December 2020 and started upgrading the previous Episerver platform, version 8, to Optimizely version 11. (Currently, yet another upgrade to version 12 is in progress).

“Upgrading a platform in three versions is no small task. There are many parameters to keep track of. Henrik's agile upgrade strategy was very smart. Throughout the upgrade process, we were able to keep the old web and admin portal running without any unplanned downtime. However, some features had to be turned off temporarily when we launched the new platform. Overall, the entire version lift exceeded our expectations,” Jimmy emphasizes.

Withstood hacker attack without a scratch

As the work began during the pandemic, the actual upgrade and collaboration between Precio Fishbone and SPF Seniorerna has been completely managed via remote solutions and Teams.

“It felt like a big deal to lift the entire web platform and start a new supplier collaboration via digital channels only, but it has not been a problem at all. Our collaboration has run smoothly and efficiently. We feel very confident with the new solution and with Precio Fishbone, that ensures that we continue to be updated and in step with the technical development. There are so many people involved in our external communications. Therefore, it’s extremely important that the platform is always available, every day of the year, Sabina underlines.

After the launch of the new platform in April 2021, when the last step of the version update was taken, the availability of the website and the admin portal has basically been 100%. The performance has also improved and the integration between the membership system and the web platform has been adjusted by Precio Fishbone to minimize the dependency between the systems. Today, changes can be made in the membership system without affecting the web, as before. In addition, calls between the systems have been reduced, increasing performance even more.

“In December 2022, our membership system was hit by a hacker attack. Then we could temporarily shut it down without affecting the website in the slightest. It was a great relief”, Sabina notes.

“Although our goal was to make as few changes as possible, we have added some new features for the editors. Among other things, it’s a lot easier to publish pictures, which now can also be done via a mobile device. It has also become easier to run campaigns as you can now do it on the same platform. We had to use an external system in our previous set up. We've also made it easier for less active editors to publish content via a customized admin interface. Overall, the rejuvenation of the platform and the new features lead to higher activity among both editors and visitors”, Jimmy points out.