IF you've been to the Passport Office recently you may have noticed that the days of queuing for hours on end to renew your passport are, thankfully, no more. The reason? The old-fashioned ticketed system has been replaced by an online booking service.
One of the companies behind this marvellous innovation was Action Point, an Irish software development company, which worked with web management firm TerminalFour to create the online service.
This is just one of a number of projects that Action Point has worked on in recent years. The company, which has offices in Ireland, the UK and US, partners with its clients to develop business process automation systems.
"In essence we try to improve how businesses run," says John Savage, co-founder and technical director. Savage set up the company with long-time friend, colleague and fellow software developer David Jeffreys in the mid-2000s. As managing director, Jeffreys heads the business side of things, while Savage "shapes the technical approach" and oversees the delivery of projects.
He says the firm takes a partnership approach with clients to any project.
"The software development process itself is fraught with over-run, so in order to avoid that we make sure the customer is involved with us every step of the way. It's a very engaged, partner-oriented delivery model."
Other customers include Chill Insurance and Aga Rangemaster. For the latter, Action Point developed a mobile app that allows users to turn their oven on and off with their smartphone. It was also recently tasked with deploying a project for the National Lottery's Crack the Code online game, delivering an end-to-end solution in conjunction with McCann Blue.
Action Point's business has been growing exponentially since it was set up in 2009, with turnover in excess of €1 million this year. In the past few months the firm has landed projects with companies in New York and Los Angeles.
It has a staff of 20, and Savage expects this figure to grow by 10 by year end - if it can get the right people.
"One of the bigger challenges we're facing is the search for good, talented software developers. It's very hard to find software developers in Ireland at the moment, so we're forced to use innovative recruitment approaches and look abroad. We recently brought someone in from South Africa, who is working extremely well with the team," he says.
It is recruiting software developers, a QA engineer and international sales personnel. The firm is in the middle of closing a couple of projects in the US, worth six figure sums, and as it looks to expand sales in both the UK and US, Action Point will be adding to its front-of-house sales team.
"Any software developer who works with us is not a small cog in a very big wheel. They get to meet the customer, they are involved in the very start of the project all the way through to delivery and support. They get full visibility of the lifecycle of a project, which is a pretty unique opportunity in the software world," says Savage.