Challenge: Obsolete equipment and time-draining inventory steps need to be shelved
A leading retail services company was recognized industry-wide for its legacy of outstanding work. Internally, however, it was building a legacy of clunky equipment, outdated processes and low employee retention.
To hone its competitive edge, the organization needed to give its salespeople a more efficient, productive and accurate way to do their jobs. Each of its in-store retail service representatives was saddled with multiple, aging resources – an obsolete handheld scanner that required evening dock and sync, a digital camera for sending photos to the company for documentation, and bulky binders of UPC pages to scan at grocery stores on their routes. Printing for the code pages alone cost the company thousands of dollars each month.
Inadequate training and lack of enterprise support services also contributed to an in-the-field staff turnover rate of over 100 percent.
Recommendation: Design a convenient, powerful mobile app
A consideration to allow reps to use their own phones or tablets helped projekt202 build an application for use across multiple devices with multi-platform capabilities.
The work involved was three-fold: (1) design and implement a new mobile application for the field force, (2) architect and build new enterprise services to support the mobile app and other systems, and (3) transform the development organization to an Agile one.
projekt202 did contextual inquiry and built journey maps to understand the true needs of the reps and of the business, including device form factor and connectivity requirements.
projekt202’s team of designers, developers and architects used data-rich observations of the reps’ training programs and work environments to drive the application’s design. Features were added to improve the ways in which reps planned their routes, received support, documented work and reported to the company:
- Connected/occasionally connected modes, including request/response caching and queuing
- Near real-time work assignment and results reporting, including camera, sensors and GPS data
- Built-in, in-context training and learning aids, including instructional protocols for performing work
Results: Reduced overhead and increased efficiencies for over 40,000 employees
projekt202's solution completely eliminated employee reimbursements for wasteful printing costs and administrative time spent transferring data from paper in the old interface. This resulted in a 13% reduction in overhead costs.
The creation of a new mobile application -- along with a suite of enterprise services that supported it -- formed the foundation of new app development initiatives across the client company. As a result, 40,000 field reps across North America were better able to plan daily tasks and map routes with the help of the internal GPS feature. Tutorials helped reps complete tasks more efficiently. A request queue also let them access information on- and offline, and report documentation – including photos – directly to the company.
During the three-year collaboration, projekt202 and the client's team built processes in the back-end with a suite of enterprise services, such as true REST services, including Hypermedia/HAEOAS, content negotiation, caching and Domain Application Protocols; commodity hardware scaling; and ESB for content aggregation.
As part of projekt202’s end-to-end application development, the client’s employees were trained and empowered as the stream of work transitioned to the company’s team. In turn, the company retained more employees, and streamlined its internal processes for standardization and quality control.
Results of projekt202's work were:
- Labor costs were two orders of magnitude lower
- First-to-market with a new service offering, which remained without competition for over two years
- Reduced training and onboarding costs
- Creation of multiple Agile teams
- Drastically reduced printing costs
- Availability of near real-time results and analytics, as well as the ability to assign work to reps already in the field
- More frequent releases and better incorporation of validation/feedback into releases