Total Produce Delivers Daily Fruit to UK Schools With OutSystems
Having won the UK government Fruit4Schools contract, Total Produce encountered a problem. In order to ensure payment for deliveries under the contract, Total Produce needed to be able to provide electronic proof of delivery. With wafer-thin margins, missing paperwork and manual processes could quickly turn this prestigious government contract into a loss-maker. The Total Produce IT department knew an integrated mobile app would solve this problem, but delivering it on time was going to be a significant challenge. Working with OutSystems gave Total Produce the speed and agility to provide not only this solution, but many more since.
Mobile offline app
Delivered in 12 weeks
Loved by 200+ delivery drivers
4 additional apps delivered
"It’s not just faster development. The DevOps capabilities of OutSystems, like one-click deployment and performance monitoring, mean the apps we deliver this way are less costly to update and maintain. That means we can invest more in innovation that will keep the company competitive into the future."
An Upset to the Apple Cart
Challenge – Total Produce is one of the world’s largest providers of fresh produce, with operations in 26 countries and 140 facilities across Europe, India, and North America. The company is involved in growing, sourcing, importing, packaging, and distributing over 300 lines of fresh produce, from apples to zucchini and everything in between. However, as this story shows, sometimes it’s the last-mile delivery that can be most difficult.
When the UK government awarded the Fruit4Schools contract to Total Produce, it came with a stipulation:
Provide every primary school child a piece of fruit every day, but if you can’t prove delivery with a signature, we won’t pay you.
From bitter experience, Total Produce knew that paper-based signatures were a recipe for disaster. Missing delivery slips, manual processing, and the impossibility of real-time reporting could quickly turn this prestigious contract into a loss-making venture.
Total Produce needed a mobile app that could route drivers to each school and collect signatures for each delivery. That was the challenge thrown at the Total Produce busy IT department, together with what seemed like an impossible deadline.
Tony O’Halloran, Director of IT at Total Produce, takes up the story. “I’d been looking for an opportunity to try OutSystems for some time. This project seemed to tick all the boxes for a first project; it wasn’t overly complex, and the need for mobile offline functionality was both a capability of OutSystems and a missing piece in our armory. The fly in the ointment was the pressing deadline; I didn’t think we’d have time to learn OutSystems and deliver this project in the three months available.”
Teamwork Prevents Sour Grapes
Solution - When Tony called OutSystems, he quickly learned that a problem shared could be a problem halved. One of the best ways to get started with OutSystems is through a pilot project, staffed by the customer and the OutSystems professional services team.
A combination of structured training, moment-of-need coaching, and day-to-day collaboration on the project is the surest way to learn OutSystems and immediately put it into practice.
“What we liked about this teamed-up approach was that it disrupted our normal ways of working. OutSystems brought significant agile expertise to the table, not just technical skills. There was a much greater focus on user experience throughout the project, all the way from requirements capture to the weekly demonstrations at the end of each sprint. As we completed development, there were absolutely no surprises, and the training effort seemed minimal because the app worked the way all users needed,” explained O’Halloran.
The shared development approach compressed development to just nine weeks, with another three weeks for final user acceptance testing and training. By the end, Total Produce had its own OutSystems expertise it could apply to future projects.
“It was a win-win from our point of view. OutSystems was the right tool for the job, but without the team approach, we would not have met our deadline, because we were too busy to assign more in-house developers to this project,” explained O’Halloran.
A Low-Code Labor Bears Fruit
Results – The resulting app has been a real hit with drivers, schedulers, and delivery managers because it’s easy to use and more efficient. Here are a few of its capabilities:
- Integration with ERP system to load daily orders
- Route scheduling
- Driver route assignment
- Internal reporting
- Proof of delivery reports for schools/education authorities
Mobile Access for Drivers
- Route guidance
- Delivery confirmation
- On-screen signature capture with photo fallback
- Delivery adjustments
- Offline availability
- Data and signature synchronization when online
Thanks to the success of this first project, Total Produce has expanded their use of low-code with four more projects, covering diverse requirements such as help desk ticketing, time tracking, credit control, and a customer complaint case management system.
“Now that we’ve proven this low-code approach, we’re bringing more developers into the OutSystems team and starting to tackle more strategic projects,” explained O’Halloran.
However, the benefit is not just much faster development, but also significant savings on IT operations time and resources.
The benefits of OutSystems from IT’s perspective:
- Faster, visual development
- Better support for an agile, user-centric development approach
- DevOps “in a box” including code integrity checking, one-click deployment, and performance monitoring
- Ease of integration with a wide variety of business systems including bespoke ERP
- Ability to design brilliant user experiences with no dependency on designers/CSS experts
- Build mobile apps, both hybrid and native, with full offline capabilities, and use of device features like GPS, touchscreen signature, and camera
- Future proof enterprise-grade security and performance