What was the scope of their involvement?
Our first project together centered around moving to a digital docketing or receipt system. Traditionally, when we delivered a load of timber to a customer, there was a carbon copy docket. Those dockets would have to be distributed to all of the stakeholders throughout the supply chain, and then the customer would enter the dockets into their own management system. Mobile Mentor developed a mobile application that enables us to have one point of truth for that information. We now have real-time information as those dockets are automatically transmitted and everyone has the information they need.
Additionally, we can use the mobile app to identify where our trucks are and what product they are carrying. That tracking enables us—and our customers—to better, and more efficiently, manage our business operations.
The second project addressed how we manage our stock. Our operations involve putting all of the wood on the roadside, and then trucks coming to pick that up. Prior to our work with Mobile Mentor, it was difficult to get real-time information about how much wood was available. Once a week, someone would tally all of the wood and update the information through email, phone call, or spreadsheet, which took a lot of time and energy. However, 24–48 hours later, that information would be out of date.
With the mobile app, our drivers have real-time information, and through the mapping component, can see where they are relative to the product. That's improved efficiency in how we manage stock information, but it also helped our drivers and ultimately our customers.
We have an ongoing relationship with Mobile Mentor for app maintenance and updates. They provide a 24/7 call center so that our drivers and customers can call at any time. Every few months, we’ve found new features or functionalities that we want to implement, or there are changes in legislation or our business operating environment.
The app works on Android and iOS tablets or mobiles devices. We typically push iOS devices because that’s what we’ve had the most success with, but it works on both systems. They used the mobile app development platform, Ionic, MobileIron’s mobile device management systems, and all of the web services set up for their own business systems are hosted in AWS. The app is not available in app stores, because we control who it is distributed to.
What is the team composition?
We dealt closely with the project manager and there have been a number of different developers that we’ve worked with across the projects. The project manager interpreted our needs to the technical development team and made sure that everyone was on the same page. Mobile Mentor has always made sure that there are people on the team that are familiar with the project and our goals in case of any turnover so that we don’t suffer from any sort of skill gap or lack of understanding.
How did you come to work with Mobile Mentor?
I first heard about them at a forest or agricultural conference. They were one of several companies that I reached out to. We decided that Mobile Mentor was a good size in that they had the expertise to work with us on the solution, but weren’t so big that we would get lost as a customer. We wanted a team that could devote attention to the projects.
They offered a competitive package in terms of prices and development skills, but what really stood out to us was that they offered a service. They were willing to go beyond delivering the application and help us distribute it to our devices, as well as operate a 24/7 call center. That way, our drivers can call at any time if they’re having trouble with the application and connect with someone that has the expertise, resources, and familiarity with the application to give them the support they need.
What is the status of this engagement?
We began working together in 2015, the first project lasted 12–18 months, we began the second project six months after that and are currently finishing that implementation, and we have an ongoing relationship with them for support and maintenance of the app.