Since autumn 2019, the restructuring of TecAlliance into an agile company has been in full swing. Since then, the Order Manager business unit has been relying fully on agile methods such as Scrum and Kanban, and the management and strategic alignment is based on “Objectives and Key Results” (OKRs). However, even before the official introduction of this approach and methods, initial attempts were made to implement customer requirements in an agile, fast and efficient manner. A prime example of this is the development of the Order Manager App, which was developed in a very short time in close cooperation with the customer.
An app for the mobile use of the Order Manager
The Order Manager is one of the most important solutions for electronic ordering of replacement parts in the automotive aftermarket in Europe and is used by more than 35,000 buyers worldwide. Wholesalers can use the Order Manager Online Portal or integrate it into their own ERP systems. At the end of 2017, a parts manufacturer – a TecAlliance customer for many years – approached the product development department with an idea: It would be very practical if the shopping basket for Order Manager could be filled by mobile devices while on the move either by manual input or with a scanner.
This idea fell on fertile ground because the added value for the customer was evident and the development of the Order Manager App fit perfectly into our strategy of customer centricity. The project was launched in December 2017. Dr. Loïc Winterhalter was responsible for the development of the app as Product Owner; Quality Assurance Engineer Timo Frömberg ensured that the app met all functional requirements.
Delivering the product in record time
“First we collected the exact requirements of the customer”, Dr. Loïc Winterhalter recalls. “We already had some experience in developing apps, but due to other projects we didn’t have any resources available internally at the time. We therefore decided to perform project management and quality assurance ourselves but outsource the development. This way we could offer the customer an optimal solution as quickly as possible.” This approach proved to be successful, because after only two months a beta version with all required functions was available.
“We used agile methods for project management, development and testing. We were in constant communication with the customer and worked closely together. This is how we made sure that the app really works the way the customer expects it to,” says Timo Frömberg. “We were able to immediately take up feedback and suggestions for changes during the test phase and incorporate them into the development. This direct communication was very helpful to deliver good results quickly.” In the summer of 2018, the Order Manager App was available for all users worldwide for Android and iOS-based devices so that it could be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store and the App Store.
Today, orders can be entered via mobile devices at any time. The buyer logs in to the Order Manager App with the usual Order Manager user data. He selects the name of the shopping basket, the organisation and the supplier. He then enters the article number or records it with a barcode scanner. In the last step he transfers the filled shopping cart to his own user account. The next time the Order Manager is accessed via the computer, the shopping basket filled via the app is available in the Shopping Cart Manager. The orderer can check the data again, add further information if necessary and then complete and send the order. This means that nothing has to be noted and later entered again manually; this makes errors in data entry a thing of the past.
A good solution for the Automotive Aftermarket
“We see ourselves as a mediator in the automotive aftermarket”, explains Dr. Loïc Winterhalter. “This means that we want to support all parties equally with our solutions, i.e. parts manufacturers, wholesalers and workshops. We will not achieve this with individual solutions that are precisely tailored to the needs of a single company, but best of all with industry solutions. We have also taken this into account when developing the app. The requirements came from a specific customer, but the app was developed in such a way that it offers real added value for all Order Manager users. Our client was very satisfied with the result and the app is well received in the market. And we gained a lot of positive experience with agile methods in this project, from which we benefit today. Working in small, multi-functional teams in close coordination with the customer and always keeping the requirements of the customer and the market in focus is really a guarantee for success,” says Dr. Loïc Winterhalter.
The Order Manager App is available for free download here:
For Android-based mobile devices: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.tecalliance.OrderManagerApp
For iOS-based mobile devices: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/order-manager-app/id1441296892