Automating Data Processes and Enhancing Compliance with Acas

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) is a non-departmental public body that provides free and impartial advice on employment rights, best practices and policies, and resolving conflict in the workplace to employers, employees and their representatives across England, Scotland and Wales.

With thousands of records collected every week, Acas needed an automated process to support the archiving, anonymisation and purging of data to help the organisation adhere to internal data retention policies, as well as the requirements of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Acas wanted to continue storing anonymised, archived data in the cloud to keep it readily available for analytics. Acas were also looking to uncover cost savings while maintaining scalability.

Having worked in partnership with Acas since 2018, Tisski were on hand to provide insight, advice and a highly skilled team to help them achieve all they had set out to – and with Microsoft’s Data Export Service coming to end of life in November 2022, Microsoft Azure Synapse was identified as the perfect tool to support the project.

By combining Azure Synapse Link, Azure Data Lake and Azure Synapse Analytics functionality, Tisski’s Innovation team were able to leverage Microsoft Azure technology to establish a reporting and analytics system to suit Acas’s needs; the end solution provides a means to store data securely at an affordable cost, and offers the opportunity to scale up and down, ticking two important boxes.

Meanwhile, Synapse Spark Pools were used to create a Delta Lake to ensure any data stored meets Acas’s data persistence and masking requirements. An automated data pipeline feeds into the Delta Lake daily with the latest Insert/Update/Delete operations, and a scheduled purging data pipeline is used to automatically anonymise sensitive data within the Delta Lake, meaning compliance with both internal and GDPR regulations.

Together, these automations give Acas the ability to keep hold of data, even if the process with which it was created has since expired, and harness automation to anonymise – or ‘mask’ – records to make sure data allows for insight into key performance indicators without the need for personal identifiable information present.

Michael Bradshaw, Head of IT Architecture at Acas, said: “We’ve partnered with Tisski on past projects, and they’ve always worked exceptionally hard to deliver. As ever, the team listened to exactly what we needed to achieve before putting forward their recommendation on the best way forward.

“Given the nature of our work, it’s vital our data is secure and that we’re meeting GDRP obligations, as well as upholding our own internal standards when it comes to the anonymisation and archiving of data. By introducing Azure Synapse technology and automated processes, Tisski are helping reduce the burden on our team while making sure we’re still handling data with the care and sensitivity required.” Michael Bradshaw
Head of IT Architecture, Acas

Tisski CEO, Anna Assassa, said: “I’m thrilled to see our long-term relationship with Acas continuing with the successful introduction of a Microsoft Azure-based solution. At Tisski, our team work hard to make sure the solutions we deliver for our customers really help them reap the benefits of Microsoft technology and, in this instance, we’ve married Azure capabilities to help Acas save time and deliver value to the taxpayer money, while remaining compliant with data regulations.

“I know I speak on behalf of the Tisski team when I say we can’t wait to see the impact this implementation has had on Acas’s data management.”

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