Designed, built and tested a dual-native platform for iOS and Android, helping the client’s customers manage critical documents, tied to international customs procedures. Incorporated sophisticated location-tracking, push notifications and alert management.
Boomerang Carnets: Native Mobile Apps for Customs Papers Management
Founded in 1987 and headquartered in Barrington, Illinois, Corporation for International Business (CIB) provides claims services and ATA Carnets (documents allowing the duty-free passage of goods across international borders) for US businesses, artists, and journalists traveling to over 70 member countries of the ATA Carnet System. CIB contacted Waverley in the early 2013 to design and build the Carnet Valet smartphone apps.
Corporation for International Business (CIB) needed help designing, building and testing a dual-native (iOS and Android) smartphone app to help its customers manage critical documents tied to international customs procedures. Named “Carnet Valet”, the app is a virtual assistant which helps users follow protocol as it reduces CIB’s liability to improper handling of documents and goods. Carnet Valet helps its users better manage the Carnets (customs documents) and high-value goods in their possession as they travel. The app incorporates sophisticated location-tracking, push notifications and alert management.
- design Carnet Valet’s user interface from the ground up using flow charts and user stories constructed in close collaboration with CIB
- build server-side data structures (adapting CIB’s existing customer database) and server-side logic to support the logging of user data and timely notifications
- test the app by means of simulating changes in geographic location and “use” of Carnet “consumables” in order to verify the correct app functioning and UX
- manage the engineering teams across two platforms to adapt to changing requirements over the app’s seven-month development time
Working closely with CIB’s Customer Service team and its Sr. V.P. for Information Technology Waverley designed and built Carnet Valet by combining the output of three designers (in New York, Florence and Ukraine) with a project manager and development team in Ukraine. Starting with the elaboration of a simple flowchart, the team generated over two dozen use scenarios which were captured in the wireframes of screen designs. These were then optimized for the native elements of each platform (iOS and Android) and developed simultaneously while the server side also took shape. The first releases were beset with problems related to geolocation, off-line performance, and database synchronization.
All project work was done using Agile software development. After use scenarios transformed into the initial user stories, the team met bi-weekly for scrums-via-Skype to exchange ideas and coordinate efforts for the first few months. Then in the six months of stabilization and UI refinement which led to the first official release, the team moved to weekly and then bi-weekly standup calls. During this time ad hoc calls, sometimes involving just the PM with one specific engineer became the preferred mode of communication. This approach allowed the team to respond to problems while minimizing the time spent generating formal documentation.
The bugs were slow to reveal, as the apps required real-world testing. So it caused the actual travel to a wide variety of locations with differing degrees of Wi-Fi, Edge, 3G and LTE connectivity. Waverley also performed careful testing of the UI, flow often involving fake location.
This new technology allows CIB customers to manage their Carnet documents more correctly, order additional documents in a timely fashion, answer basic FAQs by means of the app and gain live access to CIB Customer Service more easily, at the same time encountering fewer “surprises” and customs-related delays in their travels. For CIB, Carnet Valet is generating an unprecedented range and depth of information on customer behavior and preferences while reducing the costs related to incorrect use of Carnets.