TR Group is a heavy vehicle leasing company with eight offices around New Zealand, also providing a range of related services such as vehicle sales, maintenance and driver training.
TR Group generates a significant amount of data in its ERP and back-end systems, including customer invoices, vehicle service reports and training records. Historically, when customers wanted to access their information, they would call TR Group and a staff member would manually access the data, which was time-consuming for both TR Group and the consumer.
Booking training sessions was another problem. Under its MasterDrive brand, TR Group offers over 70 training programmes in 12 regions around New Zealand. All training course information was held in a back-end system and available on its website. Any changes to course availability had to be made manually on the website, which was time-consuming for TR Group and could lead to customers relying on out-of-date information.
As TR Group grew, these inefficiencies grew with it.
We knew this problem would need a two-pronged solution: First, customers needed to be able to access information on their own. Second, this access point needed to connect to TR Group’s existing systems to allow data to flow automatically between them.
We approached this project in an agile, iterative way. We considered what TR Group wanted to achieve, delivered small pieces of work and continually built on them to reach the end result.
First, we built a secure customer portal where customers can login and access their information, reducing the need customers to contact TR Group by phone or in-person. Initially, the customer portal pulled customer information across in a daily batch file, which was cumbersome and didn’t provide up-to-the-minute information. We improved on this by building applications that consume a number of APIs using .net and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), connecting the customer portal to TR Group’s back-end systems .
Second, we connected the back-end systems to one another. For the MasterDrive component of the business, the API connected the back-end systems to the website so TR Group can now add or update a course in its training management system and the website is automatically updated. When customers want to sign up for training, they can check availability, sign up, and pay, all in one visit to the website. All of this information flows straight to the ERP, and availability is adjusted automatically.
We are continuously improving these systems, adding more data and functionality to the API, including different access and security levels for different categories of users.
The key result is a major time saving. Customers can access the information they need more efficiently and TR Group is able to deliver a better, faster, more reliable customer experience. This helps TR Group create a more effective work-flow, reduce costs and stay competitive in the heavy vehicle market.
We will continue developing the API to deliver even more information to TR Group customers. For example, the training system will deliver data to the customer portal, giving clients the ability to see their drivers’ training history and details about their vehicles in the same place.
“Pattern helped us to validate ideas and test our thinking, which is really valuable,” says Andrew Crabb, TR Group’s CIO. “The end product is world class and getting great feedback from customers.”
Pattern helped us to validate ideas and test our thinking, which is really valuableAndrew Crabb - CIO
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