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Clerk using the thompson local system

The brief

We were approached by Thomson Local to create myOrderBuilder, a product to be used by their new business sales reps to generate quotes, orders and sales fulfilment. One of the major problems their business faced was that orders were either being processed ‘offline’ with paper order forms or with an archaic 1990’s style application, and both methods were leading to a huge number of mistakes. The consequences of these mistakes rippled all the way through the sales and support chain of the business resulting in high costs and a very poor customer experience.

the solution

Following a series of interviews and observation sessions we created a prototype to test on end-users. We were then able to iterate on the prototype, getting very quick feedback from the sales reps to validate our concepts and refine the process as necessary. The end result was a web-based application that had many advocates within the organisation because their involvement had helped shaped the product we’d built.

Clerk using the thompson local system

discovery

We began with user research sessions at Thomson Local where we observed the current sales process in action and followed this up with several interviews with members of the sales team; discussing problems they were experiencing with their current platform. Through the process of one-to-one interviews, recorded observations and group discussions we collated an affinity map of all their problems and pain points throughout the sales process, then we created some high level design mandates and improved workflows that we hoped would improve the overall experience.

UX and design

Throughout the process the end-users were heavily involved and we created rapid prototypes to test UI/UX ideas on them, running regular scenario based sessions that we recorded. The feedback we received from these sessions was the most valuable input for our decision making as we progressed through the project.

Once we got beyond the initial prototyping we focussed on building the minimum viable product, and were able to test each incremental change on end users. Our aim was to deliver something of use to the sales team (the end-to-end sales process) with the minimum number of user stories. This method enabled us to take feedback from the sales team into subsequent iterations so we had many opportunities to review and adapt the UI/UX based on validated feedback from the sales team as opposed to being fixated on some predefined upfront plan.

the tech

“We first scaffolded an AngularJS application, giving us a good foundation for further development and then added components to make our angular stack more powerful such as the angular-ui-router for flexible, nested views (instead of angular's native ngRoute). We also used ui-bootstrap and ui-select2 to enhance the UX.

As we were developing the frontend of the application in parallel to the development of the backend API, we used robohydra to mock the API responses after data formats were agreed with the API team. This proved an incredibly versatile, powerful stack that allowed us to maintain our test coverage in the form of both unit and integration tests whilst the API was being developed. We used CucumberJS a JavaScript port of Cucumber to run our end-to-end tests.

Our continuous integration server, Jenkins CI runs all of our tests before deployment can be made to our testing server and to automate the browser during these tests we use Selenium. In addition, the automated job runs JSHint to ensure high-quality code.”

Eddy Lane

Eddy Lane

Lead Developer

conclusions

Engaging the users throughout the process ensured they became participants in the production cycle and ultimately advocates for the product amongst their peers, contributing significantly to the products’ success. The results from our initial user testing steered our design and development decisions, which we then validated in subsequent user testing sessions, often receiving positive feedback and always receiving valuable insights which helps steer future decisions.

It’s great to hear the positive impact the application has made on the sales team and how the way in which it has been built has enabled the IT team to roll it out with minimal fuss.

The application is working very well and reps are keen to use it - we still haven’t removed the old AdBooking application so they are using MyOrderBuilder by choice. We managed to roll the app out to the Leeds office remotely by demo’ing the app to the office trainer and manager and within half a day they were comfortable to roll this out themselves to their staff.

Chris Ingoe

Applications Development Manager at Thomson Local

Client

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