Developing a video conferencing solution

The Language Shop offers language services to the public sector, charities and businesses. The company has over 30 years’ experience and provides interpreters for 250 languages, covering face-to-face, telephone and video interpreting, plus translation services.

Screenshot of the language shop web app

The Language Shop


Web app developement

The challenge

A successful language services function needs to provide help across many critical areas. It must:

Match the right interpreters to each case
Large organisations deal with thousands of cases per month—often with limited notice and across numerous languages and business lines.

Give users the information they need
A wide range of administrators, interpreters and professionals all interact with language service teams and have very different needs.

Manage the data
Interpretation creates a lot of data that needs to be stored and used for a range of purposes.

The Language Shop wanted to update its platform. They tried several leading solutions but none provided the functionality or UI required, so the team decided to develop a custom platform.

Not only did The Language Shop see an opportunity to improve its internal process, but conversations with several organisations demonstrated a high demand to licence the solution. Steer73 were engaged to design and build a language services platform that was purpose-built for the sector.

"We knew that technology could revolutionise how organisations delivered language services, but we also appreciated that building the right solution wasn’t simple.

We had a small in-house development team but didn’t have the resources to build a solution of this scale. We wanted a long-term partner who would take the time to understand our needs and work with us. After speaking to several companies, Steer73 emerged as the obvious choice to build the platform."

― Carlo Carino, Director, The Language Shop

The approach

Develop the solution

We placed significant emphasis on defining the solution, using our detailed process to examine the problem and make sure that the right path was taken. The software was going to be used in critical frontline services like the NHS and city councils, so there was little room for error.

We spoke to system users and the Language Shop team, gaining insight into the challenges they face and how the platform will help solve them.

Then we analysed the project from every angle—product, design and technical—while keeping resource constraints firmly in our sights.

Talking to users, assessing their needs and reviewing key features led to the development of a platform specification. This roadmap ensured that implementation was highly focused.

Implement the solution

A key challenge in this project was building a system that could be used in a wide range of settings, from a hospital ward to a council office. The platform had to perform many functions across different user types, which meant it needed to:

Facilitate the delivery of a large range of language services, including face-to-face, written translations, sign language and video.

Automate the matching of interpreters and cases via a request portal.

Ensure data security and appropriate permissions for different user levels.

Simplify user journeys across a wide range of users and settings.
Integrate quality control and case management capabilities into the data management function.

Implement finance functions that can manage budgets and payments.

The team at Steer73 helped us join the dots. We have an intimate knowledge of the problem, but we don’t have experience delivering a project of this scale. Steer73 worked through a clear process to identify how technology can create the right experience for users.

Because they are a full-service agency, the development team were involved from the start to make sure everything made sense from a technical perspective—preventing problems further down the line.

― Carlo Carino, Director, The Language Shop

Maximize adoption

At launch, the product needed to meet The Language Shop’s requirements and also be ready for wider commercial release. When it launched, a local council and one of the UK’s largest NHS Trusts decided to implement the Language Shop platform.

The rich feature-set enabled The Language Shop to deploy the system to satisfy these very different organisations. For example, the local council were using the finance and interpreter review component, whereas the large NHS Trust used the platform for bookings.

Speed was important—the new system had to be implemented across the NHS Trust before its current contract ended in a matter of weeks. The platform was required to manage a significant number of face-to-face interpreting assignments across tens of departments and support 100+ different users logging on every day.

The outcome

Success at a large NHS Trust

With only a few weeks to onboard the NHS Trust, we worked alongside The Language Shop to make sure the platform was deployed correctly. It performed from day one, immediately embedding into the NHS Trust workflow and taking over the entire interpreting operation across the Trust. In the first seven months, 25,000 bookings were made on the platform.

Stamp of approval at the governmental level

The Language Shop was recently listed on the Digital Marketplace, a government framework that enables public sector organisations to find people and technology for digital projects. The platform ensured that The Language Shop met the standards.

Significant demand for the platform

Today, our partnership with The Language Shop continues. We’re analysing data from current users and working on improvements and new features. The Language Shop is meeting with organisations all over the UK to discuss a wider rollout.

Steer73 have been the technical partner we wanted. They have dealt with everything we’ve thrown at them, and we look forward to working alongside them to roll this out into thousands of organisations.

― Carlo Carino, Director, The Language Shop