Matching visions: preparing the GIGHOUSE platform for a career abroad
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Businesses depend on freelancers more and more. But finding the right expert for the job remains a challenge. Meanwhile, freelancers struggle to find gigs, or have to deal with late payments and irrational client expectations. Spotting a major improvement opportunity, enterpreneurs Melanie Deblanc and Caroline Rollé created the highly successful digital matching platform GIGHOUSE.
With the help of delaware partner Scalefactory and the powerful Salesforce platform, the solution has been prepped for an international career.
It’s a match! How GIGHOUSE makes magic happen
“Our goal was to bring freelancers and their clients closer together,” says Caroline. “But in order to achieve this, we had to tackle multiple challenges. Matching clients and jobs with the right experts was just one aspect. We also wanted to ease the administrative burden for both parties: drawing up contracts, filling in and approving timesheets, invoicing, etc. On top of that, we were looking into the possibility of ‘white labeling’ the GIGHOUSE platform for the international market – a requirement that would have a big impact on how the platform is set up.”
Companies looking for freelancers often need to consult various sources before they find a good fit. And even then, it’s often a shot in the dark. Freelancers, on the other hand, face a merciless competitive landscape where it is hard to rise above and get a liveable fee.
“There must be a better way,” Caroline and Mélanie said. With GIGHOUSE, they aimed to develop a platform that makes it easy to match jobs with freelance experts – whether it’s an HR consultant, developer, content creator, or other profiles.
Trust is key
After first diving into a full-on AI approach, they quickly realized that a combination between a smart algorithm (developed by theMatchBox) and a human touch was key to success. Caroline: “Since we were mainly aiming for the high-profile, white-collar jobs, trust is key to success. So we had to embed it in the platform.” That’s why freelancers and clients who register on GIGHOUSE are thoroughly screened before they can post anything.
When a client posts an assignment, theMatchBox’s 360Match algorithm first provides them with a list of the most suitable freelancers. The latter receive a teaser of the job. When they express their interest in the assignment, the client gets notified and negotiations can start.
Once both parties come to an agreement, the GIGHOUSE platform automatically draws up the contracts. Over the course of the assignment, the freelancer fills in the timesheets in the app. After approval, GIGHOUSE generates the invoices as well, ensuring a swift and consistent payment.
“By taking over these administrative tasks, both parties can fully focus on the job at hand,” says Caroline. Stijn Wijndaele, co-founder of Scalefactory, uses the platform himself – and is enthusiastic: “For me, GIGHOUSE stands for reliable and flexible capacity expansion. In fact, the platform is a prime example of how you can help businesses increase their scalability in a customer-centric way.”
Cutting unnecessary complexity with critical analysis
The combination of usability and scalability requirements required a highly reliable and flexible platform architecture and data model – something the initial setup was clearly lacking. Caroline: “We ran into multiple problems: from cumbersome reporting to error-prone timesheet registration. That’s when we decided to get the Salesforce experts from Scalefactory on board to help us out with the existing issues and prepare the platform for white labeling and further expansion at the same time.”
To tackle this challenge, the team first took stock of what was already there and determine what needed to be eliminated, altered, merged, or replaced. Erik Dierinck, Scalefactory’s co-founder, explains: “We start each project with a hands-on critical analysis, in which we try to get as objective an overview as possible. In the case of GIGHOUSE, one of our key findings were that the existing data model was unnecessarily complex. It included numerous interchangeable relations, which made it confusing for users and impossible to scale. So we had to revise that. In addition, the programming logic was a black box, which meant the framework was hard to maintain.”
““We start each project with a hands-on critical analysis, in which we try to get as objective an overview as possible.”
Erik Dierinck, functional technical lead at Scalefactory
Boosting scalability and reliability
Erik and his team proposed a range of improvements. Erik: “We introduced automated testing to boost the overall quality of the platform. The tests make it possible to check whether a newly introduced functionality works as intended and doesn’t crash the app. Obviously, this is extremely important when you’re white labeling the platform: you don’t want it to go down every time you’re introducing a new data field, for example.”
GIGHOUSE’s set-up consists of three main components:
- The front-end includes the web and mobile app for the businesses and freelancers.
- The back-end for these apps runs on JAVA Spring Boot. This ensures that third-party developers can easily take over when needed.
- The process orchestration (matching and administration) runs on the Salesforce platform. Near real-time syncing between Salesforce and the apps is handled via Heroku Connect.
To boost scalability and obtain a seamless and reliable integration between GIGHOUSE’s mobile and web applications, the team decided to leverage Heroku and Heroku Connect – the webapplication platform and add-on that were recently acquired by Salesforce.
“The combination of Salesforce and Heroku is a real game-changer,” explains Erik. “With Heroku Connect, a near real-time connection is possible between the Salesforce back-end and your external application. Instead of relying on a direct connection, both environments now have their own databases. When something goes wrong with either platforms, you’re not automatically shutting down both. In addition, the developer/administrator can focus on one database, since Heroku will keep the other one updated in near-realtime. It’s a win on multiple fronts: development is smoother, the platform becomes easier to scale and maintain, and actual users get a more reliable application.”
Renovating and optimizing
Needless to say, making all of this happen wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. “You could compare it to renovating your house while you’re living in it,” says Erik. “It really required us to keep an open mind.” For Caroline, one of the keys to the project’s success was the transparent communication between the GIGHOUSE team and Salesforce experts: “Just like GIGHOUSE itself, it was all about skillfully combining technological expertise with a human touch. We held several meetings a week, and even now we can still count on immediate support whenever something comes up.”
So, what’s GIGHOUSE’s next gig? “Apart from our expansion plans abroad, we’re always looking for further optimizations to unburden clients and freelancers. The chat functionality and automated document signing, for example, will get a major update soon. In addition, we’re also improving the matching algorithm. Without those expert interventions, however, these adjustments wouldn’t have been feasible.”
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