ProMinent, a leading provider of fluid and gas pumps and accessories, approached us to talk about developing custom online configuration and pricing software for their products. At the time, they were using custom software that had been built on an Access database and that required installation on distributors’ local machines. Concerned about the multi-step installation process, the incompatibility with non-PC computers, and issues with keeping everything up to date, ProMinent wanted to implement a web-based system that would be easier to maintain and that would provide a simpler experience for their distributors.
We sat down with key stakeholders at ProMinent’s North American headquarters in Pittsburgh. Their existing software had been developed in-house and we were very fortunate to be able to talk directly with their original software programmer.
It was openly acknowledged that the project was complex. Each pump had up to 25 different parameters that would need to be configurable, and these parameters contained many dependencies and exclusions. The system would also need to include several other features, including a couple different product search systems and functionality for distributors to input custom pricing and discount settings for their customers.
From a usability perspective, we learned that there were a number of user interface features in their existing system that were well-liked by their customers that they would like to retain in the new system, if possible. At the same time, we all realized that it would be necessary to fully rethink the user interface in order to make the software adhere to expected conventions on the web.
We began by exploring a number of different possible approaches. Speed was a high priority, and that took some potential solutions off of the table.
We utilized a shopping cart metaphor to manage multiple items in the quote. We included both general, and detailed product views as options in the shopping cart.
Because distributors use the quote system to generate price quotes for their clients, it was necessary to provide them with some additional pricing tools. We built in the ability to let users set up their own discount rules and to modify prices on the fly.
Due to the high number of pumps and accessories available, it was necessary to build search functionality to help distributors identify appropriate equipment. We included functionality to search for pumps by gallons per hour and PSI.
We also included lookup functionality for identifying chemical resistance levels for various materials. This helps distributors select the correct materials for their parts.
The software launched on time and is currently in use by ProMinent’s distributors across the United States. We subsequently released a similar product for use by ProMinent’s Canadian distributors.
- Consulting / Project management
- Business analysis
- Web design
- User interface design
- HTML/ CSS
- SAP parsing
- PHP / CakePHP programming
- MySQL database