Our phones are packed with apps – all day we’re swipin’ and scrollin’ while dozens of little square icons fly past ‘till we find the right one. What are they all APPbout? Sander, the pioneering PO of the Mobile team, believes an app shouldn’t just be a mere shadow of the website.
‘We don’t want to copy what’s on the web. The app should do more, it should help.’
And that’s been the team’s raison d’être since it all began in 2015.
First there were four
From humble beginnings as a team of four to a group of seven swashbuckling buccaneers, the mobile cohort now consists of two iOS developers, two Android developers, a designer, tester and PO.
Alex, a designer from the original four, admits it was thrilling starting the TNT app from scratch back in 2015.
‘At the very beginning, it was our own thing. We started at zero, so there were lots of possibilities. It was nice to align with other teams like Track & Trace and work together from the get-go.’
The look, the experience, the flow – Sander knew how great the TNT app could be. He had far-reaching ambitions and needed a crack team who shared his vision. Once he gathered his merry bunch, they set forth and became one of the big success stories at Digital International.
And they did it their way
‘The first thing we concentrated on was notifications,’ Sander recalls.‘Through feedback, we found that people really wanted notifications, which is an obvious one because of course, you want to know when your shipment is on the move.’
Naturally, without that little ping on your phone saying your shipments is on its way, you feel on edge – is it in a ditch somewhere? At the bottom of the ocean? Notifications help put racing minds at ease. However, the team faced backend roadblocks in getting this project up and running.
‘The backend wasn’t ready,’ Sander reminisces with a grin. ‘So we created our own notification server, we really felt like cowboys doing that. We used our own developers, we did our own thing.’
Yee-haw, that’s how you get stuff done in the Mobile team. These go-against-the-grainers don’t take no for an answer – when they get an idea, they roll with it.
Thinking outside the box
So what kind of ideas are we talking about? Well, there’s ‘Paperless shipping’ for a start. Knowing customers face mountains of paperwork, the Mobile team proposed using QR codes – the app would scan the code on the shipping label and bish, bash, bosh no documents need to be printed and we help save the planet.
Next up, we have ’File a claim’. Picture this – your shipment’s damaged, you’re miffed and want to file a claim quickly. How can you skip filling in all the pesky details?
‘If you get a damaged package, you go to the ‘File a claim’ section on FedEx.com,’ Sander explains. ‘Then you can immediately connect the app to the web by scanning a QR code.’
‘After scanning the barcode on the package, all the information goes on the website. You can also add photos of the damaged shipment and your own personal information.’
Now that’s nifty. Completed in just three weeks, this project was also of particular importance because it was the first collaboration with the FedEx team. It got the ball rolling and as Johan, an adroit Android developer says, ‘It shows how well we work together and how quickly we can get stuff done.’
Rejigging the Track & Trace flow one day, developing the ‘Invite to ship’ feature the next – these mobile maestros simply crack on and get the job done. They delve into what a customer really wants to see on their screen and cut out the fluff. That’s not as easy as it sounds either – it takes research, analysis, testing and tweaking to get their work up to scratch.
And of course, stellar teamwork.
It’s all about the vibes, man
Firing out ideas, working at lightning speed, steamrolling past roadblocks – this team certainly have something going for them.
‘We have a lot of freedom, so we were able to do some unconventional stuff,’ Sander discloses. ‘There’s a safe environment, which helps us create a feature really fast.’
That’s true. According to Alex, the team don’t hold back on what they really think.
‘Whenever I show them a prototype, they’ll give brutal feedback. That’s because we’re more than colleagues, we’re friends. It’s a great vibe.’
And that’s the key ingredient – being chums and having a laugh means they can be open with each other and create exceptional work of the highest standard. They’re all quite musically inclined too. In fact, they get together and jam from time to time.
‘Sander plays in a band and has a studio beneath his office at home,’ Johan explains. ‘So at our team BBQ, we started jamming. Now we’ve booked a practice room for the band. I have a piano at home myself.’
Well pass the drums sticks and give me a guitar pick, this team rocks on all levels. From doing their own thing to coming up with novel ways to help the customer, they’re not here to fit the status quo – they want to shake things up. And they’ll do it all while having heaps of fun and rocking out. As Sander puts it, they’re just ‘friends making awesome stuff.’