Rapid Graph Technology Prototyping of Sub-Contractor Relationships

ISN is the leading provider of Health Safety and Environmental (HSE) management systems for contractor engagement. ISN collects and verifies HSE information from contractors to ensure that they are meeting the necessary requirements before they are allowed to come on site to perform work.

The Challenge of Sub-Contracting

A non-trivial but frequently overlooked part of contractor delivery is subcontractor management. Many companies outsource or partner to satisfy parts of their operations. This presents a major business challenge for ISN’s customers to keep track of the complexities that result from sub-contracting.

On projects, contractors utilize sub-contractors who in turn may also utilize sub-contractors and so forth. This results in clients that may have limited visibility to the risk and compliance of their subcontractor community.

ISN felt that the complexity that resulted from these real-world, multi-layered relationships could best be modeled using a graph database. ISN lacked the experience to bring their vision to a reality which led them to seek out and engage the services of Expero.

Expero worked with ISN to define use cases and refine design considerations in the following manner:

Use Case Design Considerations

Some of the key design considerations included:
    • Graph traversals of unknown or highly variable depths
    • Algorithmic composite risk scores based on business relationships as described by graph relationships
    • Highly performant Cypher queries in small server footprint
It was determined that rapid functional prototyping would be the best approach to understanding the data and validate the product direction. User-centered design strategies in conjunction with rapid development would also be utilized to build a functional, web-based prototype.

These lean approaches would enable a quick design while building just enough technology to make sure the project started out on the right track.

Why Neo4j

The Neo4j graph database was selected for the prototype for the following reasons:
    • It is easy to install and performant in single mode, which allowed an environment to be stood up quickly.
    • It comes out of the box with an HTTP/S REST API and a simple GUI console (the Neo4j Browser) to inspect the data.
    • The small footprint allowed for extremely rapid building, deployment and testing.
    • A light JavaScript front-end was easily developed leveraging the REST API.
Expero was able to deliver the proof of the hypothesis and business case in two weeks. With the prototype dashboard that Expero delivered to ISN, they are in a better position to help their customers find, surface and manage business risks no matter how far down the sub-contracting chain they may be.

Learn how Expero used Neo4j graph technology to prototype a sub-contracting solution for ISN

Of course, getting graph technology up and running is only the first step in unlocking the meaningful utility that this type of connected data can provide, and ISN and Expero look forward to further work together in discovering graph insights and building additional value for clients.

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