Agile development methodology was key to the successful implementation of a new online equipment management tool for Coates Hire.
The construction equipment rental company teamed up with Oakton tech consultants in creating MyCoatesHire, a multi-device B2B portal.
The online portal features complex data integration with systems including ERP, CRM and document management to create a seamless experience for customers across all of their equipment hire needs.
Customers requesting ways of doing business better led to Coates Hire researching customers, identifying unique customer personas and journeys, and defining a new experience to add increased value.
According to Matt Freedman, Oakton’s director of digital and information, the 12-month project involved a user-centric design approach. This was carried out in multiple stages including a six-week design phase and a period for initial research and workshops, followed by nine lots of three-week Scrum sprints.
"It was really a multi-stage approach where you’re constantly focusing on the customer and then go through iterations, continually testing them, so at the end of the day you actually give the customer what they want,” said Freedman the Sitecore Digital Trendspot conference in Sydney.
During implementation, Oakton developed a digital strategy framework which worked with the customer lifecycle, examining how customer needs change over time.
“To have a deep understanding of your customers, you need to have a look at their personas, how these customers interact with the business, and look at how we can create this exceptional customer experience for them,” said Freedman.
“What we find is most businesses go from identifying customer personas straight into creating wireframes and interfaces for the customer. But if you do that you miss out on some key learning.”
Once personas are identified, individual customer journeys were mapped through research, observation, interviews and workshops.
Pain points were given extra focus as Feedman believes that “being able to improve something and make it a better experience makes a bigger difference than making a good thing a little bit better". Finding solutions to these pain points led to building interactive prototypes.
“Wireframes are really ineffective in capturing dynamic elements, but prototyping breathes life into designs and gives something tangible, visual and experiential that you can share with the end customer, the business and all the different stakeholders to start getting buy-in to the solution,” said Freedman.
The team spent a lot of time testing the prototype with trial customers and internal stakeholders, which led to much new iteration.
Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft SharePoint were utilised to integrate multiple disparate datasets, including financial systems, equipment information and service history, and customer details. Sitecore was used to provide an engaging platform layout.
Though MyCoatesHire is still in its infancy, Freedman says the new online tool will offer better cost control, greater brand efficiency, and improve safety and reliability of equipment for Coates Hire and its customers.
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