Full Stack Development Supports Ag Dealers in Customer Service

Our agricultural equipment manufacturer client needed to revamp their web app for their dealer customers. The app lacked a clear product vision and was too big to manage long term. It also had lower customer satisfaction and didn’t have key features the dealers needed to be successful.

Our full stack development team helped them grow their Agile development practices, improve their product ownership approach and add crowd-pleasing features to improve customer satisfaction.

What We Did

DevOps, UI/UX, Product Ownership, Agile Coaching, Road Mapping, Web Development, Product Localization, Full Stack Development, Personas, Data Mining, Product Discovery, Product Strategy

Tech Stack

Java, Spring, AngularJS, React, Oracle, Postgres, AWS, Jenkins, Databricks, Rally, ELK, Machine Learning

Opportunity

Our agricultural equipment manufacturer customer service their dealer network and farm operators with software products.

They recognized a need to grow their Agile practices and implement a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline to prepare for a revamp of their entire web app for dealers. The revamp of the product would provide expanded features to the dealers, namely in the form of improved reporting. Tougher competition from industry software providers instigated their investment in features to improve customer satisfaction.

Planning for Key Features

The web application helps dealers create and manage service agreements and customer support plans. These services include maintenance, technical phone support, and other ongoing services. For example, a farmer purchasing a tractor from a dealer might also purchase a maintenance plan. Additional services are important to these dealers’ businesses, yet the existing app wasn’t meeting their needs. It was slow and resulted in many missed opportunities for generating revenue from these post-sale equipment services.

Identifying Challenges

The original app was built several years ago but lacked a clear product vision for the future and wasn’t designed for long-term manageability. There was a lot of overlap between it and other sales tools that the dealers use—it lacked a user-centered development approach. After meeting with our client to discuss their needs, we agreed that they needed Agile and product ownership coaching to support this area of their business.

We previously supported this client’s Agile transformation and product improvements, so they engaged us to help them in this new effort. Read about those projects in Managing and Monitoring Heavy Machinery and Propelling a New Generation of Tractors.

large tractor in a field

Solution

Product Vision and Roadmapping

We helped them create a product roadmap to envision the future of the tool. Agile product ownership was a fairly immature practice, so our goal was to model and teach how it could be done and why it mattered. We took a user-centered approach. This included engaging dealers and stakeholders to uncover features that mattered to them and would make a meaningful difference. 

Development and CI/CD pipeline improvements

Our full stack development team provided technical guidance to support our client. We split the application into modular components that can be owned and managed by independent product teams moving forward. This approach allowed product teams to own, develop, and deploy improvements to the app quickly and incrementally. These efficiencies minimized the coordination overhead of managing a large monolith app. 

One aspect of the support provided was creating custom Jenkins CI/CD scripts that would allow areas to be tested and integrated continuously.

Adding crowd-pleasing features

After that, we worked on improving the app’s reporting functionality, and helped our client move parts of the application to AWS as a part of a company-wide initiative to host their services in the cloud. Some of the original visuals were not accessible to all users, so we made the experience of displaying data less confusing and more clear. 

That most challenging feature involved providing dealer data in a read-only fashion. It required unraveling a tangled web of permissions and roles without damaging the live production app. It was complex, delicate, and left no room for error. 

Gnarly bug hunting!

We also examined the root cause of defects and common customer complaints and designed and implemented solutions to fix them. In one instance, a messaging queue issue was causing significant slow downs to the entire enterprise system. We quickly identified the issue and fixed it, impressing our client with the speed to resolution. 

Onboarding and hand-off

Towards the end of the engagement, we brought a new internal client team up to speed to take over after we wrapped up. The process we used helped improve how our client pairs up teams to accomplish development.

Results

Our work helps dealers better understand their business through streamlined features that provide the data they need when they need it. It also helped align internal client stakeholders on a product vision for the future. Plus, we helped them grow Agile practices within their software development practice.

The app’s approval ratings increased 65%+ from when we started. We definitely helped them accomplish their goal of moving the needle on customer satisfaction.

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Let’s develop something special.

Reach out today to talk about how we can work together to shake up your industry.