In a nutshell
In mid-2013, Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, launched UPSDM (Uttar Pradesh Skills Development Mission). – an initiative to make its large, under-educated, largely unskilled youth, employable. How? By training the youth at zero fees in the areas where the state as well as the country needed resources, i.e. in semi-skilled areas and vocational training.
Challenges, not problems
The various schemes for skills development launched by the Central Government had to be studied thoroughly to ease the candidates’ burden and maximise their benefit from the schemes. Assessors needed to be empanelled to assess candidates and grade their performance. The entire process was to be automated to reduce bureaucratic delays. The central information system was designed to engage with all parties (candidates, TP, assessors, and Mission management) to reduce off-line and manual. To compound it all, poor internet connections.
Solutions, not ideas
Merce designed the software as a centralised system with a browser interface. Our team built the portal and website in a phased manner. In the initial phases, one of the biggest challenges was to handle the load of dozens of transactions per second, and millions of hits on the static site per day. With tight budgets and lengthy bureaucratic procedures, procuring hardware and provisioning for Internet bandwidth was too slow to be practical. After a brief consultation with the Mission and their partners, Merce took a bold step to move the entire setup to a public cloud. Merce first launched the portal for candidate registration with performance optimisations at the application, database and hardware levels. The application was being accessed simultaneously every day from over 2,000 computers at 100+ locations during the candidate registration phase. During some periods, 100+ database transactions were being performed per second, sustained over several minutes.
Now that’s value
The Mission’s stated goal in the project RFP was to serve about 25 lakh (2.5 million) candidates over a three-year period. However, the number of candidate registrations over the first two months exceeded 45 lakh (4.5 million), exceeding the Mission’s most optimistic projections. Candidate registration had to be suspended for temporary periods to handle the back-office manual processing load and allocate capacity to respond to the candidates. On certain days, new candidate registrations touched 2 lakh (200,000) in a single day. During this period, the software system performed reliably. Another critical requirement was batch creation. Candidates needed to be grouped into batches for a particular round of a course, keeping dozens of factors in mind. The application needed to match the candidates and the schemes offered by the Mission. Each candidate profile needed to pass through the batch creation engine, which assessed various parameters of the candidate profile and matched it against multiple parameters defined under each scheme. Also, the mission itself had certain criteria of forming a batch, e.g. the mix of male and female candidates or mix of SC/ST and general-category.
The Mission is running successfully with well-defined processes and guidelines which have been formulated and codified by EY’s process consulting team. Its entire life cycle is monitored and managed using the single portal designed, developed and maintained by Merce.