How Does an IT Working Method Solve Transport, Time And Efficiency Problems?

What does a pair of gloves, the display of an app and the happiness of the drivers that make deliveries to customers have in common? They are all manifest in the Driver App that was created with the help of agile work processes.

Empty transports, waiting times, compliance with strict regulation, red tape, difficult routes - suppliers are facing daily problems en route to their destinations. This is where digital tools can offer assistance in the optimisation of work processes and to ensure transparency along the supply chain.

Maico Strauss is an IT expert in the solutions area of METRONOM, Metro's tech-unit, and part of the team that develops the "Driver App". The app's objective: speeding up route planning and deliveries, simplified digitalised processes and a higher customer satisfaction.

The
solution

A "Driver App" that is installed on a smart device and maps the entire process.

The
approach

Agile work processes for a quicker achievement of the objective.

The
result

Everything has been digitalised - from the scanning process for putting goods into storage to the preparation (check of refrigeration temperatures), optimised route planning, delivery of goods, payment and confirmation of receipt.

Not an easy task. Different realities frequently clash. On the one hand, there is the classic manager's perspective with clear expectations of how a project or product should be set up in order to work properly. On the other hand, there is a fast and efficient IT that takes different perspectives in order to understand who needs to get precisely what done in which particular way. The seemingly never-ending programming of solutions that are already outdated at the time of their introduction is a thing of the past. Agile work methods have taken hold in the IT arena. This means that it's not enough to take a quick look at the App's management summary and its proposed functions.

For the Driver App, this means: Before developing an app, Strauss and his 10 team members will first have to understand the drivers and the challenges faced by them in their daily work. In more concrete terms: They accompany the drivers on their entire delivery trips, talk to route planners and customers, learn about the requirements of the different stakeholders and condense them into "user stories".

 

Driver App - Copyright Urban Zintel

 

 

A driver app installed on a smart device that maps the entire process.

Maico Strauss remembers a situation where he observed a clash between theory and practice that gave him as an IT person an opportunity to learn from real-life practice.

"The drivers usually wear protective gloves when loading or unloading their trucks. They never take them off. Not even when they're done with their work and hand over the document to confirm receipt of the goods to the customer. We were completely unaware of that at the time we defined the processes. The first prototype was way too flimsy - it wasn't possible to operate the buttons with gloves on. Not practical for the drivers at all", Strauss explains.

This kind of feedback is immediately implemented in the next sprint, the buttons of the device were simply made bigger and we made the device easier to use by adding a pen. This is precisely how an agile project is conducted: new functions are continuously tested and integrated during the ongoing project.

The outcome of the "Driver App": 50% reduction in paper consumption, optimised route planning by integration of a geographic and a time factor, improved customer service and a simplified processing of data. Happy drivers, who are directly involved and can make their expertise count, feel appreciated and make a significant contribution to improved processes. Happy customers and managers, who see their wishes being implemented. And happy IT people, who use agile work methods to achieve results quickly.

Agile Working

The philosophy being agile work was developed in the software area. The Agile Manifest was published in 2001. In it, software developers explain how to optimise teamwork in projects and how to implement faster and more efficient processes. A project is broken down into parts that can be worked on in a fast pace, sometimes concurrently, and with constant feedback. Transparency, a clear allocation of responsibilities, candid criticism, as well as improvements and adjustments to the process are important prerequisites for being agile. But what's most important is understanding the customer. The "problem" and its "solution" are the top priority at all times.