4 years ago, we started a project that, although was very different to our usual focal area of software development in financial management and data tracking, has proven to be not only a rewarding task but an invaluable learning experience for us all at Exact Financial Systems. The My Life Programme helps people living with disabilities integrate and socialise – getting people out there into the world and allowing fully independent lifestyles.
When we were initially approached about starting this project with My Life, they were seeking a company to develop a software based life skills programme to assist young people living with disabilities, helping them to gain personal independence and increase their social engagement. From money management, healthy eating, keeping fit, and building relationships – the programme is used to help develop life skills and confidence, ultimately with the hope of leading to a happy healthy lifestyle. It became clear to us very early on what our aims were and we became personally invested in this organisation.
We now have a greater understanding of the issues that come with developing software of this kind and as the years have gone on, we genuinely feel we have helped people’s lives for the better – which is the best outcome we could have hoped for. It goes without saying that our involvement with My Life has been far more than financial and for that we feel very privileged.
We asked our lead developer Matt Byrant about the impact and his experiences of working on this project:
“The early days were difficult for sure, it was an area I knew little about and getting to grips with the cultural needs was a huge challenge in understanding how code might be developed in the future, which certainly would not follow typical development models. The last three years have been anything but typical, interaction with people has been pivotal; without doubt my communication skills, both written and oral, have been tested and taken to a new level. I have to think and design in a totally different way to anything previously, the whole experience has been totally positive, rewarding and refreshing.
“I think it’s fair to say that initially I was a little wary, but working with and for the benefits of those with learning difficulties over the last three years has had a direct and significantly positive impact on my own personal development.”
Paul Sinclair, Director of Exact Financial Systems says:
"Matt’s right, we have had to learn a whole bunch of new tricks, people, technology, cultures, it’s been a journey of discovery on so many levels.
“Today we are in the very final development of the first full version of the My Life programme. Exact’s bread and butter business is and will always be our financial expertise, but working on the project has made us a better company, better people and opened our eyes to what we can all achieve by making the best of what we have been given in life. We would encourage any organisation to consider having a social development as part of its delivery.
“For us the My Life project stopped being financial a long time ago. Today, we are far more interested in what it will do for people than how the company will benefit personally. We are proud to be part of the My Life Learning for Independence initiative and will continue to play our role for the significant future.”