Finally, a mobility platform that unites communities

30 April 2021

Sharing vehicles with your neighbors or colleagues is no longer a pipe dream. Enter BattMobility: a platform and an app that makes sharing electric vehicles easy. As a partner of BattMobility, Sofico took on the task of developing the platform and was able to rely on AE’s expertise for this.

BattMobility focuses on sustainable mobility, combining the principles of a sharing economy with a convenient platform that allows users to reserve, gain access to and lock electric vehicles after use. “There is more to it than that, though," says Ben De Pauw, Functional Analyst at Sofico. “People in the same neighborhood can buy a vehicle together and share it via the platform. BattMobility also has an offer for companies to share a fleet of electric vehicles among colleagues with ease.”

“We finally have a service that solves the mobility issue and directly integrates the community element", adds Kathleen Demol, UX Lead at AE. “This is a smart step towards sustainable mobility.”


Electric spark creates fireworks

“At Sofico, we develop software for the leasing and fleet management market. This traditionally focuses on one formula: the lease vehicle,” explains Ben. “However, we are very aware that society is changing and that mobility issues are only becoming more pressing. When we first encountered BattMobility, we immediately felt a strong sense of synergy: we had the technical know-how, while BattMobility had the business expertise.”

Dedicated and agile

“We set up a focused team specifically for this project in December 2019,” says Ben. “That intensity was essential for such a challenging project: we had to go from scratch to go live in 5 months.”

“The new platform is designed to replace a previous solution”, adds Kathleen. “BattMobility was working with an off-the-shelf solution whose license was set to expire in May 2020. That’s why we had to be as focused and efficient as possible. We fully embraced the agile methodology, with sprints and short lines of communication. For example, we had a stand-up meeting every morning and one shortly afternoon, so the team members never spent more than half a day without input.”

“An extra challenge was that we had to work remotely starting in March,” says Ben. “As a result, we had to be even more focused in our communication.”

Co-creation within and outside the team

Although the lead time was ambitious, the team did not compromise on quality.

“Kathleen’s involvement led to excellent added value," says Ben. “Her UX and UI expertise is phenomenal. With her experience and knowledge, she helped to push development to the next level.”

“For my part, it was refreshing to observe such a strong team dynamic,” adds Kathleen. “Ben, for example, knows best how the leasing and car-sharing market works. I was able to think about things more from the consumer’s point of view. This resulted in open, engaging conversations – with the whole team. In these conversations, we always looked at the antithesis to work towards a smarter synthesis. This is an excellent way to work.”

“We were very open to learning from each other,” says Ben. “For example, Kathleen offered a great deal of insight into the users. How does a particular feature feel? Is it structured logically? Can people quickly work out how to navigate through the app? Which features are genuinely important? And can users tackle issues on their own without having to call a helpdesk employee?”

“In the first step, we tested and developed many aspects within the team. Of course, we missed some things,” says Kathleen. “That's why we called in the help of beta testers – highly motivated volunteers who even had their own WhatsApp group. Their input shed light on various issues.”

“At Sofico, we primarily create ERP software for a B2B market. That typically means there is another layer between us and the end-users or our customers’ customers. The work dynamic with the beta testers was definitely enriching,” says Ben. “In this project, we also worked with user metrics. This allowed us to track which features were frequently used and where users were encountering issues. We could then validate expected flows: meaningful insights that enabled us to focus on the right areas in full knowledge of the facts.”

“Our initial search filter allowed users to select vehicles based on technical parameters, such as payload and maximum range. However, this resulted in an app with complex filters to work with. It was much more beneficial to offer users the option to state what they wanted to use the shared vehicle for: a quick drive to the supermarket, a visit to the recycling center, or a family vacation. We have introduced intent labels for each of these categories, so users can find matching vehicles for their specific needs more intuitively.”

Achieving the gold standard in no time

“Our team worked together very closely,” says Ben. “The scope for each sprint was discussed together: what can we achieve in the next two weeks? We went through the requirements and designs together and estimated the complexity and feasibility. As a team, we then committed to what we would build in the next sprint. This allowed us to take great strides together.”

“A design comes to life only when a developer starts working on it," says Kathleen. This is why I think it is important to brainstorm about it as a team: from the user’s perspective, and from a technical perspective as a developer. In doing so, we always managed to find a balance between strong functionality and a good user experience.”

A bright future

“We delivered the platform in early May 2020,” says Ben. “Afterwards, we made some improvements and added some features. In the future, we want to use the software for our own customers in the business sector – they have their own specific needs. A pilot project is underway in Australia. Here, we are including vehicles with conventional combustion engines. The flexible platform enables us to respond to the specific aspects involving these vehicles.”

“Although we now have an internal UX Lead, I’m sure we will continue working with AE in the future,” concludes Ben. “After all, we’ve been doing that for twenty years with great success. AE makes every collaboration project stronger and brings extensive expertise and new insights to the table.”

“This project was also rewarding for me,” says Kathleen. “It was an enriching, beneficial experience, and I was able to show how valuable UI and UX are. This will make the organization stronger – and last long after our collaboration has ended. That is the ultimate task of a consultant.”

 

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