Our client is a global enterprise providing procurement solutions. Their field of expertise embraces the acquisition of goods, services or works from external sources. It is in the best interests of all concerned that these goods, services or works, are appropriately procured at the best possible cost, to meet the needs of the acquirer in terms of quality, quantity, time, and location.
However, The nature of the procurement industry is very complex, mainly due to multiple interrelated factors in an environment where every disruption has unpredictable repercussions, triggering further changes.
The fact is, we value attentive and responsive listening in a dynamic business environment. For this reason we use the Agile Method of software development. This approach is valuable when working with both large and small players. It becomes especially effective when used in cooperation with large clients, and when working on their long term projects. If you want more details of our Agile approach to application building, please read more in our Workflow section.. In essence, though, our client maintains full control over the process, as Monterail comes alongside and together we make decisions. These decisions include such vital aspects of software development as: specific priorities of applications to be developed; the sequence of feature delivery; product decisions and budget allocations.
Our work philosophy transcends all areas of our activity, and is characterised by a sympathetic proactivity that extends to the software and facilitative tools we use. Ruby on Rails is an application building software that allows for a very quick development process, giving the client the opportunity to progressively test their ideas against the market. This is achieved through a communicative and friendly approach to planning and design.
When the decision to begin work on a certain application has been finalized, it is our Design Team that initially looks into all the aspects of a new project. Together with the Technical Lead and the Project Manager, they study and analyze the product specifications to get a comprehensive understanding of the client's needs. This is a phase of intensive communication with the client, where we schedule several meetings to make sure that we have a full and shared understanding of the desired application and its context. At the same time we decide which features would constitute a minimum viable product (MVP), which is a first and extremely basic version of the application. In this period, it is vital for the designers to grasp the essence of the client’s vision of the application. The next step is for the designers to create layouts of the application and verify them against incoming information. Here again, we first focus on setting up an MVP and afterwards extensively analyse its performance. Then we brainstorm ideas with a team of developers. After this process we submit a more complete and sophisticated design for a final product. Another aspect of this initial developmental phase is to compile a list of User Stories, which we then analyse in order to put together a user manual for the product that describes all the interactions with the product that the user may engage in.
Taking the application from its MVP to its final production phase involves the continuous and effective management of data derived from several developmental versions of the application. In order to cope with this complex task we need to maintain a truly reliable workflow, and in so doing, defining and verify the functions and performance of the fledgling application. This, we have found, is best achieved by making use of the Specification by Example Technique, assisted by the Cucumber as our tool of choice.
All of our project management teams are dedicated, self-motivated and organized. They consist of Designers, Developers, Quality Assurers, and a Project Leader. The exact structure of the team may vary from project to project, but what they have in common is a shared sense of ownership of the work. This starts from the very beginning, and becomes more and more apparent when, for example, the team meets to transform the User Stories harvested from the MVP tests into development tasks. At this point the project begins to gain momentum, and a more substantial virtual form. Thereafter, the work of developing the product is divided into periods or sprints, usually lasting two weeks each. At the end of each sprint we deliver a small portion of the project to the client for testing, and for introduction to their stakeholders.
Rather than juggling multiple entry points and passwords, we have boiled down all our client's access points to procurement applications in one place - the Dashboard. This start platform offers a single-step process of identity validation for all of their software applications, and can be customized to allow most convenience to the user. Like all other products, the Dashboard can be accessed remotely from any web-addressed device, making the app suitable for buyers on the move. This app is used by both our client's employees as well as their own clients.
The Dashboard is tailored to the specific needs of each user, revealing information that is critical to their role. If you were a CPO you may be interested in the high level information of all procurement activities and so the tool can be tailored to present exactly the data you need to report back to the business on your overall performance. However, for Category Managers and individual buyers, the selection of information feeds dive down into much greater detail, looking at particular suppliers, commodities or markets that they are interested in, or that might pose risks.
side from compiling all relevant information from our multiple procurement apps, the Dashboard also reaches for data from external sources, and filters them into groups, such as market insights, corporate developments, or supplier credit scores. This way we equip our users with the comprehensive context for information, in a way that definitely exceeds expectation. Another unique feature is ‘calls to action’ that can alert and usher users to items that either require an immediate response or should be incorporated into their decision making.
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