Is it possible to save up to 67% of the budget allocated for outlet inspection?
We give a positive answer as it was proved by our project.
An international tobacco company is suffering from a disorganized inspection process, which implies hiring a large number of outlet agents to collect information about each outlet where its production is sold. Outlet agents get a special paper form to find out about the sales result, the placement of the product, the condition of the shop etc. They spend about an hour to inspect one shop (4-5 shops a day) and then they have to come back to the office and type in the information on the computer which takes them about a half an hour more (per shop).
Why do they double their work by filling in paper forms and writing reports? Is it possible to do it 2-3 times faster? Well, the solution that we have provided helps to save approximately one hour on inspecting and describing just one shop.
How did we do that?
We suggested creating an application for the special corporate smartphones being used by the agents, which would allow to input the information being inside the shop. The application eases the data collecting process providing special intelligent templates with forms to fill in and lists to choose from. Every template is generated automatically, depending on the type of the store. The data is collected and sent to the backend in a format, that requires no additional preparation.
The application structures the information and the outlet agents are able to adjust the form and the questions to the outlet chosen. When the work is done, all the gathered information is sent to the cloud database for further analysis and decision making. It is also possible to take some photos and attach them to the form.
Voila! The solution was found and now let’s take a close look at the process from the beginning till the end.
The first meeting where our business analyst was discussing the task and deadlines with the company’s officials showed that a lot of work should be done to clear the goals and get the right understanding of the working process. Our expert had to interview all the stakeholders to get a clear idea of the working process and was able to find some problem areas in it, then the business vision was formulated.
There were quite a lot of stakeholders in the system (sales department managers, IT department managers, outlet agents) and our first aim was to meet all their requirements although they sometimes contradicted one another. Eventually, we were able to find the best solution that turned to be the most effective and suited everyone.
When the business vision was approved, to integrate the application with the existing IT backend infrastructure, our team also held the investigation of the existing architecture design and consultations with the client side tech teams.
The main challenge for the technical team was to find a balance between supporting old IT systems of the company and implementing new technologies in developing mobile applications. We have managed to do that by using a distributed application structure
Having sketched the future User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI), the team of the business analyst and the UI designer set up the UX prototype to present to the stakeholder’s board for intermediate review and feedback. Already at the prototyping stage, the team showed the inclination to combine the best practices of Android Guidelines (for that period of time) with taking into account the collected preferences of the potential users.
Due to it, the subsequent presentation showed the UX prototype met almost all the stakeholders’ requirements, so after several minor changes, the UX project was approved.
After this, the UI designer started to work on the final version of the design: he drew the ready-to-market UI, taking into account the peculiarities of the client’s unified smartphones model range (every outlet agent used a smartphone of the same model); introduced the traits of the company’s corporate style; and created the screen compilation for the developers.
The final design also went through the procedure of approval, which we got having covered a couple of corporate style preferences. Afterwards, our team proceeded to development.
The application development process took about 1.5 months and was carried out by using the waterfall model with the clearly defined scope and deliverables to meet the company’s needs. The reporting process consisted of a report and a collective phone call twice a week, and a weekly on-site meeting with the product owner.
The quality assurance was included into the process as well.
The application was tested on a small area and some features for better usability were implemented. After that, the application was successfully released.
The application we have created for special corporate smartphones (used by outlet agents) makes the data collecting process much easier by providing templates with forms to fill in and lists to choose from. As a result, the outlet agents do not waste time on writing reports, so they are able to inspect more retail outlets. This helps to save about 62 500 dollars per year. Moreover, all the information collected is saved in the cloud database just after the outlet has been inspected. The solution suited all company’s stakeholders and was spread on two more larger areas
Though the amount of work done for the project was not too big, the team has implemented the solution which has greatly improved the efficiency of the business process in the company and has become a benchmark for corporate offices in other countries.