“Together with Polarising we are now able to have a software running smoothly with no relevant problems that allows us to grow the locker network, work with different partners that interact with the lockers, and launch different features to use the lockers.”
– Francisco Travassos, Locky’s CEO
The Client And Our Story.
CTT is a Portuguese company leader in postal and logistic services, covering both Portugal and Spain.
This project named “Brain” is a pioneer and innovative solution of lockers that Locky, a CTT company, has created to facilitate the process of buyers receiving their parcels, providing operational efficiency.
Locky is a locker network set by CTT to help buyers receive their parcels in a more convenient way. The most used case is pick-up parcels, but other services are being developed, like returns. Locky is an open network that not only CTT, but other carriers may use.
Polarising was chosen by CTT to provide a new software solution that would meet the requirements of a critical part of the service that wasn’t yet completed, since the previous software provider had a due date to shut down all services until that point.
The challenge and the tailored solution.
Most of the challenges that came across were not technology related but instead, domain and functional oriented. That’s how “Brain” was born.
Brain software is a set of frontend (web-portal) and backend modules that manage the entire locker network, from creating and managing the network, to manage capacity and the parcel allocation to each locker and it also controls the status of each parcel in the network.
This software has the rules to manage different business partners like private lockers, but also different carriers, since the locker network is an open network to any provider besides CTT. The Brain interfaces several other software pieces, from internal CTT’s operational systems (track & trace, pick-up points) to client front-facing applications (CTT’s customer area).
The first thing we needed to ensure was that, by implementing “Brain”, all these domains were segregated, hence providing the operation team with a clear set of features to work on.
Two major areas were set regarding the parcel lifecycle (Parcel Manager) and another one (AssetManager) regarding business assets such as physical lockers, business partners, users, etc. Each of these areas were materialized in web applications called portals.
Both these two portals combined provide a fully operational vision, allowing to address a multitude of problems that can compromise the delivery to the end-user.
From one end, the Asset Manager Portal allows to create several business entities such as the lockers, detail them and providing information to every surrounding entity, mainly by “Area de Cliente CTT”, making sure that all customers see all the lockers available to retrieve or drop-off a parcel.
In addition to these features designed to support the final customer operations, the portal also contains other areas designed for other types of clients, such as business partners that may have specific contracts to use privately a set of lockers for their own needs, or delivery points which are physical places (e.g., shops) where the parcels can be delivered and picked up by customers.
As to the Parcel Manager Portal, it guarantees that every parcel or reservation is being created according to CTT’s operational requirements, and that the parcel reaches the destination to its physical Locker.
Tech that works to develop the solution.
The entire technical architecture was based in a hexagonal pattern in order to achieve an agnostic core system independent of any existing CTT system. On the other hand, to facilitate the usage and integration of different and multiple operators, both on courier (parcel lifecycle) and devices sides (physical locker, delivery points, etc.)
Internally, a microservice based approach was used to build all the pieces needed for the global system to work. The pieces communicate mainly through events in an asynchronous way.
Their UIs are built using Angular and communicate with the backend services using mainly REST calls. Backend services were created using the Spring framework.
There was a big concern regarding the user experience to simplify and make life easier to operation agents.
This solution guarantees that every physical locker deployed is completely detailed and fully integrated in CTT’s infrastructure, as well as prepared to accommodate other couriers, like Amazon or DHL. For example, if one of these couriers wants to use CTT Lockers, they will be able to easily plug in to their systems, exponentially increasing the use of these lockers.
On the other hand, this solution also grants real time visibility of all the objects/parcels’ location, allowing the operation and distribution teams a more reliable planning of their activities within each day.
By providing a fully tracked object/parcel, the customer will receive detailed information of the ordered object’s whereabouts, and of when it will be available to pick up and until when.
This is one of the major benefits of this solution, releasing the end-user of the obligation to be at a certain address and at a certain time, waiting for the mailman to deliver the package, since with this solution the object/ parcel will be waiting at the locker chosen by the customer.
The CTT partnership with Polarising
By using an incremental SCRUM methodology, Polarising was able to manage effectively CTT’s expectations and have all the agreed scope items very detailed on Microsoft’s DevOps tracking system.
This gave CTT the possibility to manage the product roadmap in a very transparent way and across all the company’s other domains, like Wallet, “Area de Cliente”, SAP, etc., guaranteeing that all deadlines would be achieved.
Daniel Machado, Polarising’s Account Manager responsible for this project, says: “This was a very iterative process, our partner stakeholders were less experienced with agile methodology, namely SCRUM, which helped them and us to deliver and react much faster than a typically fixed traditional approach. We are not just delivering in an agile framework, we are educating and incorporating our partners to facilitate processes and deliveries.”.
Francisco Travassos, Locky’s CEO, continues:“Polarising helped CTT and our Locker project to develop a software layer that has an overview of the entire locker network, the status of parcel orders in the locker network and the occupation of each locker, manages parcels’ reservations for lockers and manages the locker capacity. Polarising also helped develop several interfaces for different partner and operator systems, having designed and implemented an architecture able to support a full open network. Polarising was able to set an experienced team, working together and much aligned with our own technical team, developing all the work through the scrum approach.”
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