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Febelfin Academy: a fresh start!

2018-06-04-CVE-Febelfin-300

Six sites

The Febelfin Academy project actually consists of six websites: the Febelfin Academy website and five of its derivatives – Sofuba, Elan+, Startfin, Formanot and Elan+ Outplacement. This uniform platform offers information on all courses and exams, and lets users know where they can enrol. As all the courses are presented on various sites, they are managed centrally in a Learning Management System (LMS). Wijs set up the website’s central API that synchronises all training and enrolment data with the LMS.

“It was quite a challenge to make the Febelfin Academy and its associated websites run smoothly in one system. Wijs used Harmony – the CMS it developed in-house – to make the content structure customised and very intuitive.”

Caroline Van Geel

Communication & Marketing Manager - Febelfin Academy

A clean slate

A few years later, in 2017, Febelfin Academy contacted Tobania to have a fully customised LMS developed. It had various reasons to do this. We analysed the technical impact of the new LMS and concluded that switching from Fork to Harmony was the most logical and efficient way forward. This roughly meant that a completely new site had to be built.

The costs wouldn't be that much higher and it was an excellent opportunity for Febelfin Academy to switch to a modern-day CMS. The time had come to start with a clean slate. Febelfin Academy introduced us to Tobania and we collaborated closely on the new site.

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“Thanks to the constructive attitude, professional cooperation and seamless communication between Febelfin Academy, Wijs and Tobania, together we achieved the smooth integration of the custom LMS and the various websites. We were able to offer a generic, scalable and efficient solution by considering the LMS as the master of the data and by using modern technologies such as Azure cloud hosting and Service Bus. The various parties beautifully integrated these into the total solution, which enabled Febelfin Academy to offer a professional learning environment to its customers.”

Geert Vanden Boer

Operational Manager - Tobania

Starting from scratch

The first step in this fresh start was to analyse what needed to be retained and what needed to be replaced. Most of the features stayed, but did undergo thorough optimisations. On a technical level, the approach was completely different than before. We wanted to keep the logical operations situated within the LMS as much as possible rather than spread across the LMS and the websites.

As the building blocks for the new site were taking shape, we also re-examined the design. The design from a few years ago turned out to be future-proof and only needed some slight tweaking.

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Continued optimisation

The construction of a new website is of course the perfect time to thoroughly question everything to make even more improvements. We therefore questioned the concept of a multisite, as that was how the previous version was built. The multisite aspect proved to be a bit of a problem in practice. The websites showed many similarities, but also many differences. As a result, functionalities had to be adapted to ensure that they worked for all sites. A change to one site had a direct impact on another, which then resulted in a risk of errors.

That is why in Harmony, we went for independent sites rather than a multisite. Febelfin Academy is the main site. Every functionality is developed there. This makes it possible to then configure the functionalities that are necessary for each site separately. This approach is forward-looking and prevents errors.

“When we contacted Wijs in 2015, Febelfin Academy needed a new visual identity. The biggest challenge was the Febelfin Academy website. We were not disappointed: we took some serious leaps forward in terms of user experience, design and development.”

Caroline Van Geel

Communication & Marketing Manager - Febelfin Academy

From API to LMS to API

To centralise the data for all training courses, we set up a central API that is independent from all the websites. Each website connects to this API in order to display the correct courses. At the moment, six websites exchange data with this API, but it would be easy to quickly connect a seventh.

The course data are not entered in the API itself. We set up a connection between the LMS and our API for this. The data is transferred from the LMS to the API and from the API to the LMS via an Azure Service Bus.

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“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. What I particularly appreciate about our partnership is the no-nonsense approach, the mutual respect, the necessary flexibility and the excellent advice we receive for all our projects! The deadlines were very tight, but the Wijs team went to great lengths to always give Febelfin Academy enough opportunities for testing and setting up the various sites.”

Caroline Van Geel

Communication & Marketing Manager - Febelfin Academy

Summary

Because of the implications of the technical adjustments, creating a new site was preferred over updating the existing one. We built the new site in Harmony and worked closely with Tobania for the LMS. The result is a strong, robust and high-performance site. We pulled off a technical tour de force that was forward-looking and met the high security requirements that are so important in the banking sector. Febelfin Academy’s refreshed design and intuitive and user-friendly CMS in Harmony is set to last years.

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