"A more traditional approach to requirements gathering results in a documented list of requirements. With Fabric’s Discovery and Validation workshops the focus was more on the experience we wanted from the application. It helped me to better articulate what was in my head."Gary Smith, Product Information Manager, Toyota Motor Corporation Australia
Toyota’s Product Information Team (PIT) is responsible for ensuring all Toyota variants arriving in Australia meet the specifications developed during the Product Planning process - Toyota call this the ‘spec check’. For every ‘spec check’ PIT traditionally print lists of vehicle specification data and take it to the wharf to edit and ‘tick off’ each specification. Later, back at the office, specifications were entered and approved in Toyota’s Automotive Specification System. The process is prone to error and waste is generated by time spent reconciling correct information back into the product planning process. Toyota is required to ensure that all marketing collateral reflects the specification of vehicles on sale.
Toyota’s IT Team (ISD) brought in Fabric to facilitate ‘Discovery’ workshops that allowed the project team to rapidly understand the broader business context, envision the new spec checking application and define a minimum viable product (MVP). As part of these workshops the development team joined PIT on a spec check at Port Melbourne wharf so that they could observe the process and empathise with the challenges faced by the Customer.
In just over one week Fabric were able to develop a compelling experience and be in a position to commence development. Definition of the MVP allowed the team to focus on the features that added most value to the Customer first and continual prioritisation ensured only the most valuable features were translated into working software.
Regular feedback is a core principle in how Fabric engages their Customers. PIT were encouraged to visit the project team at any stage and and to commit to fortnightly Showcases (demonstrations) of the application. Continuous engagement meant the Product Owner could steer direction of the product as they understood more about the software and how it could drive benefits into their business.
Moving the spec checking process from paper to mobile presented some usability challenges along the way. The team at Fabric used rapid prototyping (anything from post it notes and sharpies to HTML5 depending on the challenge and context) to rapidly place a design in front of PIT for feedback. This ensured the best experience was built.
Fabric used jQuery Mobile and HTML5 to provide a cross platform, cross device solution that gave flexibility to Toyota. Building a mobile application in jQuery Mobile and HTML5 is also faster than building equivalent native applications and supports a delivery approach that incorporates rapid feedback.