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Supply chain tech: What can we do in a day?

Supply chain tech: What can we do in a day?

Here at Shipwell, our software team has a cultural ritual we do (almost) every month: the Hackathon.

A typical Hackathon at Shipwell is a day-long event, where each person decides on a problem they want to solve, often forming teams squads to do it. Once teams are formed, we quickly dig into the problem to make sure we completely understand it, interviewing users and discussing ways it could be addressed. The process from there is a rapid iterative cycle of defining, designing, building and testing — with the ultimate goal of having a functional solution by the end of the day.

Then, the engineering team demos the different solutions to the company. The Hackathon is our favorite day of the month. It’s an intense and energizing day that allows us to collaborate and address customer pain points in real time.

Our latest Hackathon was April 4 — and it was our best one yet. Mind you, we have built some pretty cool stuff in our past Hackathons (at least to our geek minds). One of those was the start of our automated intelligent calling solution that led to us being selected as one of the Best in Show winners at MarketWaves in November 2018.

This Hackathon was different. Nearly every solution we built addressed a key customer problem and was about 80% of the way to being completed. Each problem selected for the Hackathon had been a known issue, and the ideal solution was not a trivial resource and time investment.

But this time, the product team used boldness, creativity, and resourcefulness to build elegant solutions that either have already arrived on the platform, or will be soon.

Here are a couple of the features we built.

Multiple shipment creation

Customers often need to create several almost identical shipments at one time, but they also need to be able to easily edit them with changes like dates, statuses, and reference numbers. The process of building or cloning a shipment on Shipwell is simple and fast, but when a customer needed to build 30 of the same load, it became more time-consuming and tedious.

“We wanted to build something that wasn’t just interesting, but solved a real customer pain point.”

Steve Chronister, Front End Engineer

Front End Engineer Steve Chronister and Sr. Product Designer Brent Budolfson took the lead on designing and building the feature. Steve said that “we wanted to build something that wasn’t just interesting, but solved a real customer pain point. After interviewing some users, we built a prototype, and with a bit of feedback, we soon had something that was production-quality.”

Global search

The customers who use the platform most are the ones who need to find what they need the fastest. And there’s no faster way to do this than search, which is why we are adding a “search from anywhere” capability. You can search all of your data on shipment, including shipments, carriers, customers, notes, and more from one search bar.

Global search was another customer request we’ve been wanting to address for a long time. Once again, it was ambitious to think we could solve it in a day, but with some ingenuity, the team was able to design and develop it and get it 90% of the way there. It will be coming to the platform in the coming days.

There were several other great projects the team built that will soon be coming to the platform, including a realtime app status monitoring, showing when documents were emailed from the app, and even an Alexa app for tracking shipments.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months as we have some ambitious plans to connect and automate the world’s supply chains over the coming quarters.

This post is guest authored by Andy Rouse, Senior Product Manager, Shipwell.