Out with the old, in with the new: a deep dive into our Drivespeed project

Drivespeed Group is an automotive service provider, who offer bespoke vehicle supply solutions and services.

Over the last ten years, the Group has grown significantly, but the systems they’re using haven’t grown with them.

The team knew that if they wanted to build on the growth of the last decade, a total system overhaul was required.

This is where 6B’s technical expertise was able to help.

Below, Toby Callinan, 6B’s Technical Architect, explores the challenges, our solution and how things are progressing on the project so far.

The challenges

Any project of this size will always have its challenges. As an experienced technical partner who has worked on countless projects like this before, these challenges are to be expected.

But in all honesty, this is one of the smoothest projects we’ve completed in recent memory. The client had an understanding of what they wanted and why it was needed. They were open and willing, investing time and energy into understanding the prototype and solution we designed, taking time to learn why we’ve chosen it and how it will benefit them.

It was anything but a ‘go and build us this and then come back to us’ approach, which makes our lives a hell of a lot easier.

But that’s not to say the project wasn’t without its challenges. For one, we ran into problems when trying to integrate with third parties.

Cap API is an industry-specific API that’s all to do with cars and manufacturers. For example, if you typed in ‘Ford Fiesta’, it would give you all the different models and options to buy a brand new one. The API itself was quite outdated and contained a lot of information, which made integration tricky.

Secondly, the automotive industry is similar to the IT industry, in that it contains lots of acronyms and jargon. To ensure nothing was lost in translation, we created a jargon buster and shared this with everyone on the project, so we all had a clear understanding of industry-specific terms and remained on the same page.

[Side note: If you’d like to know more about the key requirements and unique challenges we faced with Drivespeed, head over to our website to read the case study in full.]

Discovering the breakthrough

A project’s success hinges on the quality of our findings in the discovery phase. It allows us to ‘get under the hood’ of a business and build a solution that’s unique to each client and their needs.

A one-size-fits-all approach is the equivalent of a piece of tape on a burst pipe; it might stem the flow of water temporarily, but the pipe will burst again. 

I travelled with our team up to York and sat down with the folks at Drivespeed for two days. We spoke to people in every department, from compliance and sales to the board of directors, to understand how they work and what would help them do their job better.

Typically, discovery sessions like this are led by the senior leadership team or the board of directors. But, while it’s great to get that visionary perspective, I wanted to hear the problems straight from the horse’s mouth – from the people on the ground, so that the solution we created would meet the needs of everyone in the business.

We started with a number of user focus groups across different departments, and this gave us insight into the legacy systems in place, the manual processes and the effect this had on people’s ability to do their jobs.

I documented as much of this process as possible, presenting what I’d learned back to the Drivespeed team – and the reason for this was twofold:

  1. I wanted to show that we fully understood how each department functioned and interacted with the legacy system
  2. I wanted to ensure nothing had been misinterpreted on our end

From this, we could produce a scope of work document, explaining the requirements as we saw them and using diagrams to show the conclusions we reached and solutions proposed.

To ensure everyone at Drivespeed was aware of how the final solution would work, we worked with our UX team to draw up prototypes in image form, showing how the user journey would flow. After the design had been approved, our team began building the prototypes using Morpheus, which was the ideal application to deliver this project at scale.

What we did

Now it was time to bring the prototypes to life. 

Throughout the project we’ve committed to working a dual track agile process, and the reason for this was simple. Agile development allows us to focus on a specific area, get it signed off, go into build and then turn our attention to the next area. Not only is this approach really useful in terms of risk mitigation, but it also ensures the solution doesn’t become outdated.

The pandemic is a perfect example of this. If we start a long-term project and commit to a solution in the first couple of weeks or months, external factors out of our control could soon render that solution redundant and we would have to start over.

The integrated web application we’re developing will grant colleagues across all individual brands easy access to the documents, channels and resources they need.

For Drivespeed to deliver on their ambitious growth plans for the next ten years, they need a portal that’s responsive and can maintain accurate stock levels.

The portal we’re developing will do just that. It means that stock can be imported and removed automatically once sold, instead of staff having to manually add vehicles onto the system every quarter, and remove them once a buyer has been found.

Creating efficiencies and improving accuracy was a primary focus for Drivespeed when briefing us. To do this, we introduced an automated live system dashboard component; when this is up and running, staff won’t have to manually create reports, with instant access to real-time data on stock levels and sales percentages to target.

I’m confident that the measures we put in place to automate tasks in finance, compliance and workflow processes, will allow staff to focus on tasks that actually require a human touch, like interacting with customers or marketing the business.

To improve the customer journey further, we’re also redesigning the existing customer facing website, making it simple to navigate – and above all else, functional. Brokers and customers will now be able to access all the information they need without having to leave the site.

The results

This is a live project – so while it’s at an exciting point for us to share back the first few stages of progress, there’s a lot of work to be done.

But, I expect the ROI to be incredibly quick.

Our discovery process laid the groundwork for the integrated web application that we’re building, ensuring every brand and department that make up the Group has been considered.

Essentially, Drivespeed will go from operating in a sea of spreadsheets to a completely bespoke system that’s tailored to exactly how they work. Because what we’re building is bespoke software, there will be no problems associated with off-the-shelf solutions; they’ll have a centralised, unified system which is capable of doing it all, eliminating the need to run multiple systems at once.

With a legacy system, so much time and energy is spent operating the system. Replacing it with a unified solution helps a business regain that time and still offers plenty of flexibility.

This means staff will quite literally have to do 50% less work, as manual processes that were open to human error and took up so much time will now be completely automated. Staff can be redeployed to focus on tasks that genuinely add value like marketing and promoting the business, while the cost of running the business will be reduced.

Gary Beynon, Group MD at Drivespeed, had this to say about working with 6B: “We wanted to partner with a digital agency that could offer a dedicated team of developers, and were capable of designing a single bespoke solution for all our brands – and 6B ticked both of these boxes. Their detailed approach to the research and discovery phase has given us the confidence that when the project is complete, our business will have future-proof systems in place to achieve revenue growth.”

Have digital agencies struggled to grasp the unique conditions your business operates under in the past?

At 6B, we recognise that no two businesses are the same. Even in the same industry, how you and your closest competitor work will vary wildly. That’s why we conduct a thorough discovery process, so we understand how you do business and the tools you need to grow in the future.

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