As an IT consulting company Kantega took part in building a brand new solution for the Airport Express train (Flytoget) in Oslo, Norway. Flytoget wanted to automate key processes and increase motivation among their staff. Here is a description of the process, the solution and the benefits that have been achieved.
Innovating from the bottom up
Train drivers and service personnel at Flytoget are required to bring updated safety manuals to work. The company has to ensure that safety information is read and acknowledged by staff before they can operate on the trains. Prior to the new solution, train drivers and onboard service personnel had to pass through the administration office every day to read and acknowledge important safety information. This process was time consuming and required a lot of telephone communication to update train personnel throughout the workday.
The employee’s idea has now grown into a solution that simplifies work for the company’s staff
The idea for a new mobile tool started with a comment from one of Flytoget’s employees a couple of years ago – “Why can’t we get all our tasks sent to our mobiles in PDF-documents?” Commercial director Sverre Høven picked up the idea and initiated a project to look into the possibilities. As a result, the employee’s idea has now grown into a solution that simplifies work for the company’s staff.
The importance of user involvement
At the start of the process it was important to find out what the solution should include and how it should function. So the project began by interviewing potential users from across the business. This was done to map out key tasks that a mobile solution could automate and find out what they would need to do to create a great user experience and provide the highest possible ROI. The user research concluded in a requirement specification scoping the prioritized functionality in two development cycles.
Working with prototypes
One of the main objectives of the project was to eliminate boring tasks and make administrative work as effective and pleasant as possible. A tool we used to achieve this was prototyping. Prototypes of user screens were created at an early stage, with key stakeholders providing feedback on them through workshops and user tests. These activities improved the solution step by step and laid the foundation for a great user experience and a high degree of user acceptance.
Building the system in two phases
The solution was developed in two phases. This was done to create value for the business as early as possible and so that the project team could learn from user feedback.
Phase one: In the first phase we developed a solution for reading updated safety information posted by the traffic control center. Users acknowledge that they have read a document through one single click on the iPad app and digital signatures are reported back to the traffic control center. Functionality for reading short operational messages was also included; every time a new message arrives the user get a push notification on the iPad.
We built functionality for reporting back train faults, passenger counts, train delays and other key information from the trains. Previously, this was done over the phone or by means of paper forms
We also developed functionality for train personnel to sign in for their workday and get their daily work schedules through the iPad app. Access to the company’s intranet was included in the app so that users could engage in the ongoing internal dialog and read useful information from the company. Links to services like Google maps and hotels.com were included in a separate menu to enable users to help passengers in a better way.
Phase two: In the second phase we built functionality for reporting back train faults, passenger counts, train delays and other key information from the trains. Previously, this was done over the phone or by means of paper forms. Now these tasks are easily completed through the app, and reports are fed directly to the right recipient internally or externally.
In addition to the iPad app a back-end administration system was developed. This is used by the traffic control center and other administrative functions. From this application, documents are distributed to the iPad app, giving users access to reports from train personnel. It also includes other administrative functions like train reports.
Integration with other business-critical systems has been key to process automation. For instance, when personnel use the app to report train faults, these reports go through the server and are fed straight into the train maintenance system. At the other end, the maintenance supplier has access to this system and uses it as input for their maintenance work.
Figure 1: Screenshot from the app
Train drivers and service personnel no longer have to take the daily, time-consuming, trip to the office before boarding their trains. A significant amount of time that earlier was used on manual tasks are now used in productive ways.
Another benefit is a sharp fall in the amount of paper used. The company has saved NOK 300,000 in annual paper costs alone thanks to the solution.
A significant amount of time that earlier was used on manual tasks are now used in productive ways. Another benefit is a sharp fall in the amount of paper used.
Flytoget also stresses that the system contributes to enhanced safety for passenger and personnel by improving the internal flow of operational and safety information.
The app has led to an increase in job motivation and satisfaction among staff.
Last but not least, the app has led to an increase in job motivation and satisfaction among staff. Flytoget has involved employees in the project from day one, and has been able to incorporate functionality tailored especially to their wishes.
The whole system, including integrations, was built in seven months, with the first batch of functionality being released after only five months.
By Pål Einar Tho Bråthen
Senior consultant at Kantega
Phone: +47 924 97 890
Kantega is a Norwegian consulting, technology services and application outsourcing company. Using agile and iterative software development methods, we design and develop user friendly software with high reliability. More info...
The Airport Express Train (Flytoget) is Norway’s first and only high-speed train, providing fast, modern and comfortable transportation between the Oslo International Airport at Gardermoen and Lillestrøm, Oslo Central Station (Oslo S) and Asker/Drammen. More than 6 million people travel with the Airport Express Train every year.