Cal-JAC is an organization which tests firefighters and firefighter candidates in the state of California. Cal-JAC conducts two tests, a written knowledge test, and a physical ability test. When candidates have passed the two tests, they are eligible to be listed on a statewide candidate list used by fire agencies throughout the state. Many current firefighters also are required to retest on a schedule set by the state of California, and those results are tracked by the application as well.
California Fire Fighters Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC) saw a market opportunity, and purchased FireHire in an effort to consolidate the two businesses. FireHire was primarily focused on the written tests, whereas Cal-JAC conducted the physical ability tests. At the time of the acquisition, most of the FireHire processes were entirely manual, requiring several staff members and significant time and effort. The custom software solution was intended to automate several of these internal workflows. It would track candidate’s status against the written and physical exams, dates and results of test attempts, and candidate certifications for passing both examinations. It would also track subsequent retests required by many agencies.
Cal-JAC had existing relationships with a small group of software vendors. However, from that group, either suitable vendors were not available, or the vendors did not have the breadth of skills needed to take on a project of this type and scope. Cal-JAC felt they wanted a custom software shop with a wide background, in terms of both platform but also front-end and back-end software development skills. They wanted a vendor that had enough personnel to maintain the project over time, rather than a small operation which would be less stable and able to respond to their needs. Further, they were against working with offshore teams for a variety of reasons. Cal-JAC internally had a preference for working in Python, and sought out a team that could create a ground-up custom software application, rather than try to fit them into a customized pre-packaged software solution. In the end, they chose Parthenon Software Group.
Mezzanine was picked to allow Cal-JAC to create and modify marketing pages and blocks of text and images throughout the site in a user friendly manner. Cal-JAC felt that such a system would be invaluable to their internal users. It would allow them to scale their operation, create repeatable systems, and fully utilize the two newly merged companies.
After the plan was approved, Parthenon built the new application, using a new layout that made it easy for the users to schedule and pay for their testing services, upload certification documentation, and view and change their scheduled testing. The new app had a responsive and mobile-friendly front end that was usable with all major smart phone browsers. User data was made accessible on the back end for quick and easy modification and test schedule, as well as verification of personal documents through a document verification queue. Reports were viewable from the backend and allowed CALJAC to create Excel or CSV files or view the data in their browser. The new app also integrated with third party testing software to allow for the movement of data between the different systems.
The successful release of the new application created automated, end to end processes that were a significant improvement over the manual processes that were being used prior to the release. CALJAC believes the work performed will have significant and positive long term impact to their company operations. It has given them the ability to scale by allowing more candidates to use the system, without needing to hire additional personnel. It has given them an agility to respond to the market, including adding additional capabilities much faster than was possible the manual processes previously used. CALJAC has continued to work with Parthenon to-date on additional features, and to create new solutions for additional departments within their company.