Untangling complex patterns of work

27 July, 2018

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A challenging problem applying the Holidays Act to the employees of a large company led to Sentio and Dragonfly working together.

Sentio is part of the CDP group and provides specialised consulting services for analytics, planning and data integration, particularly for customers using SAP systems. Sentio was approached by a client who had been audited by MBIE and needed to recalculate the leave entitlements of its employees as required by the Holidays Act 2003 – checking that public holidays, annual, sick and bereavement leave had all been accounted for correctly.

Jason Blockley, director of Sentio, says the Holidays Act 2003 is an incredibly complicated piece of legislation.

“Our client had lots of shift workers and we had to work out if these employees had a regular work pattern and therefore what their leave and pay entitlements should be under the Act. We spent a bit of time on it ourselves, going through the data looking for patterns with standard SQL code methodology but I quickly realised it was a machine learning type issue that needed advanced statistical knowledge.”

He thought Dragonfly were the best people to take it on. He gave them a call, booked some meetings and got the work underway.

“We gave them very little direction or handover because we were up against it at the time. But they understood straight away what was needed. I provided some sample data and basically left them to it!”

Dragonfly identified a variety of different patterns of work from the data, and were able to identify when patterns of work had changed.

“I have to say I was absolutely blown away with the result. It was better than I was expecting it could be and provided exactly what we needed. I also really appreciated how they were able to articulate what they had done and how they did it. I was able to pass that information on to the client as well.”

Jason says he’s now actively looking for ways to work with Dragonfly again.

“We live in a small country and I recognise that my company is better for having the back up and support of a company like Dragonfly. Our access to them enables us to offer a level of service that others cannot.”

The leave calculation system has been used to create a tool called HARE - Holidays Act remediation engine that Sentio is using with other clients.

Read about another statistical project we led involving spatial analysis of turtles in the Pacific Ocean.