Mobile Application Development for Large Direct Sales Company
Providing Focus and Clarity in the Development of a New Mobile Application
The Business Need
Our client, a large direct sales company, was looking to introduce an innovative and engaging mobile application to complement a new web-based system they were implementing to help their sales force manage contacts, plan sales events and manage orders. This was their second attempt to roll out the web-based system. The first attempt had fallen short of expectations and left the sales force with little confidence in the new web-based approach. The combined effort of implementing the new website and mobile application was the biggest project they had undertaken in more than 10 years.
The client leadership team was feeling pressure to make a significant impact with the mobile application. They needed to have a smooth rollout as well as deliver functionality which would excite the sales force and encourage them to migrate to the new system. At the time, our client’s business team and development team were struggling with communication. A history of miscommunication, coupled with the stress of an unsuccessful first attempt to introduce the new system, had led to a situation where there was high urgency within the organization for a successful deployment.
The client came to Centric looking for help with eliciting and prioritizing business and user needs and communicating those needs clearly and concisely to the development team. They also needed help bridging the gap and providing transparency between these groups.
Centric’s High-Impact Approach
We were engaged to bring a fresh perspective and organize the work associated with the mobile app development. One focus was to work as a liaison between IT and the business owners to ensure the business needs were appropriately addressed. We knew listening to and meeting the business needs was going to be critical to a successful rollout. We were able to build a trusting rapport with both the business team and the IT team and then foster it into two-way communication between the teams. We provided much-needed organization around the requirements gathering effort and implemented user acceptance testing sessions to ensure readiness for the initial public release of the mobile application. We also prioritized the new features requested based on input from the users and business owners.
Challenges and Resolution
- Initiating and facilitating open communication and dialogue. Our team worked quickly to earn the trust of both the business owners and the IT team. This put us in position to be a much needed liaison, which led to strong alignment between teams that had previously been adversarial.
- Providing transparency around potential problems. While fostering communication between the business and IT teams, we demonstrated the positive outcomes of transparent dialogue. By having open conversations, the teams were able to mitigate potential issues and swiftly address any problems which arose in the production environment.
- Understanding the true needs of the sales force. The original set of requirements for the mobile application was created by the IT team with little input from users. Our team worked with the sales force to organize and create user acceptance testing sessions as well as beta testing to gain the much-needed user involvement.
The iPhone and Android mobile applications were successfully implemented and are now accessible by over 65,000 sales consultants through the Apple iTunes and Google Play app stores. Both have a rating of 4.5 stars due to the excitement generated by the sales force. The sales consultants love the ability to use the mobile app at sales events to take orders and payment from customers. They also appreciate the ability to use the mobile app in “offline mode.”
- Easy-to-use design provides key functionality
- Access to customer contact information
- View and manage business calendar
- Create Shows and manage Show information
- Take orders on Shows or on an individual basis
- News section for updates and current promotions
The project was not without its challenges, and there was a large amount of pressure to deliver it right the first time. Despite the obstacles, our team was able to work closely with the client team to ensure a successful outcome.
The client is currently working on future releases which will contain more functionality based on feedback from the sales force and business owners.