NZ Post

NZ Post: Parcelstore tracking

NZ Post deliver approximately 81 million packages every year using the Parcelstore tracking application and database. They wanted to improve the service, offering more information, reducing confusion, and making NZ Post more competitive in local and global markets.

NZ Post

Taming the beast

NZ Post wanted to improve Parcelstore to offer more information to businesses and their customers, to reduce confusion and support calls, and to make NZ Post more competitive in local and global markets.

The Parcelstore application had been running for many years and over that time it had grown into quite a large, under-structured codebase with little documentation. The complexity of the system, combined with the large volume of deliveries that go through it, meant that changes or improvements were risky.

Agile methodology, with test-driven development, peer-reviewed code and iterative improvements, allowed the business to get what they wanted while reducing the risks.

Improved security

During the course of the project Ackama further enhanced the Parcelstore application code by cleaning out some rogue code and improving security. We also created a complete regression suite of testing for this and future projects which might touch the application and related APIs, and added an additional level of tracking information for customers - specifically location and signature names with tracking events. An incremental rollout meant that the business got benefits early and often.

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Agile and success

We used an Agile approach on this project, establishing a team for whom we provided training and coaching. We implemented practices such as daily stand-ups and story writing. This allowed the team to work together, increase their velocity over time and respond to changing business priorities. NZ Post saw that the business and Agile delivery teams could work together effectively and deliver real value. They also realised that business Product Owners are a key part of the team and need to be on the project full time. Ackama saw the benefits of having members of our team co-located at NZ Post and how this daily interaction built trust and enhanced communication.

Over the six month project, as trust increased, communication improved and everyone got used to the new way of working. Velocity also increased substantially, allowing us to deliver more in a shorter time frame.

This project improved Ruby apps which serve 50 requests per second or 130 million requests per month. It was delivered 54 days early with zero customer downtime and zero post-release support costs. NZ Post’s customers are also better off because we delivered improvements to their service and we did it quickly.

This project was presented as an Agile case study with a roadshow in Wellington and Auckland promoting the process and showcasing the benefit of NZ Post’s move to Agile.