THE CHALLENGE

The client for this project manages a successful Import & Export business that requires an enormous amount of handson logistics when trading automobiles overseas. They came to us with the idea that software would be the key to streamline their processes and scale their organizational reach.

THE PROCESS

DISCOVERY

To improve EtoCar’s process for the future, we had to fully understand their present operations. EtoCar follows an extremely rigid process for buying and exporting vehicles from the United States into China. Throughout that process chain, there are breakdowns that lead to inefficiencies, and the team came to the table with many of their biggest pain points already listed. It’s always easier to conduct preliminary discovery when the client is also the enduser of the product that being built. They’re often subject matter experts on what they do, can articulate their likes and dislikes about the work, and have numerous suggestions on how to improve it. The EtoCar team was no exception.

Validation

We were able to develop an overview of their process which led us to validate our approach. We spent hours with the EtoCar team understanding each individual role, how they interact with one another, and how all of that is tracked. Together we identified a two major inefficiencies that we would solve in this first application:

  • The team was leaning heavily on a popular communication app called WeChat for internal correspondence and information sharing. The application did not enable the team to maintain and track logs of data and communications.
  • All data and communications collected in WeChat was manually input into Salesforce, burning up hours of productivity each week to transfer and upload.

Product Hypotheses

We designed a process flow that filled up both whiteboards in the FoundationLab Conference room, determining the minimal amount of features required to completely reshape this process for the end user. What we focused on:

  • Messaging
  • Photo Upload
  • Salesforce Integration
  • Automated Triggers

Prototyping

With the core features determined, our design team got to work mapping out the User Experience. We placed wireframes into an InvisionApp walkthrough and had the client (synonymous with ‘User’ on this project) interact with it as if the product were live. The feedback was almost immediate. What we learned:

  • We underestimated the importance of a human check on documentation shared directly through the app.
  • The automated triggers that we created to update specific fields in Salesforce weren’t going to be as automated as we had originally planned.

The Result

User Interface Design

With the flows determined and wireframes built, tested, and tweaked — it was time to design the User Interface based on the branding guidelines provided by EtoCar.

Development

Originally, much of the current operations required manual triggers in Salesforce in order to move the process forward. As a result, this phase of the project required a major integration with the existing Salesforce system. This posed a unique challenge to our development team: to build a front end iOS application that not only spoke to, but ran on top of a Salesforce system. To achieve this, we integrated the app with all of their existing fields in Salesforce, enabling the team to trigger progress process by changing these fields. The main objective of this first application improved the overall communication process at each various touch point without disrupting the positive aspects of their existing workflow.

Takeaways

Process is critically important for all businesses operations, and making them more efficient through streamlined technology can be a game changer. On this project, we relied on our own process and technologies that enables it (like InvisionApp) to ensure we built a product that immediately improved EtoCar’s organizational work flow. In turn, it increased the productivity of those managing it every single day, leading to an overall improvement in the quality of their work lives. We wish to thank the EtoCar team for collaborating with us on developing the first iteration of this product, and we look forward to building the next iteration with them.

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