Tea auctioning has been done using paper based recording and it was a requirement by the client to automate this so the information could be recorded digitally. Digital recording of data makes sharing and collaboration with data much easier and availability also could increase a result. High speed data connections and hand held devices could be used to increase the efficiency and information exchange real-time. Building the tea auctioning platform was justified as a requirement of the current day to harness and deliver these benefits to all of its stakeholders.
At a high level, the requirement is to automate the 100+ years old tea auctioning process. Main objective of this solution is to bring both tea buyers and brokers together while removing all the paper based transactions made through the tea auctioning process. Therefore the paper based system has to be replaced with a system that possesses a way to organise all the data that allows them to be accessed and manipulated easily.
Tea valuation is done in three consecutive inspection cycles, two weeks prior to a weekly tea auction where each cycle is used to evaluate different characteristics of the same tea lot. During each inspection cycle, a tea lot shall be tagged with a special remark, resulting in multiple aggregated remarks at the end of all three inspection cycles. When the inspection cycles are completed, a process of grading valuated tea lots has to be performed by the tea buyers.
Challenges in the Business Process
Both brokers and buyers have their custom build solutions to manage the tea auctioning/buying process. These independent systems have proprietary data formats for both input and output of data. Since brokers and buyers need to be in the newly built general auction platform, it was a requirement to bring all these independent parties to common formats. It was because of the resistance due to the fact that major changes disrupt their familiarity and they don’t want to learn their jobs or change the way they do things. Getting everyone to agree on the generalized format was challenging and had to get the top management of those companies involved in making these changes happen.
Challenges in Technology
This project features processes that allows users to make live transactions and get real-time feedback. During the live auction, buyers should be able to see sale quantities and average prices for their scheduled purchase list. All the qualifying Standards are shown at the point of purchasing a lot. Which means changes made to the lots required to be seen by all the users connected with the live auction. Real-time updates to a variety of applications sitting on heterogeneous devices (such as iOS, Android, and different browser clients) was a challenge but correct selection of technology and strategic implementation of features lead to produce a reliable and stable solution. Furthermore the team was challenged due to the multi-tenancy environment and assured no risk involved in terms of information leakages among/within buyers and brokers.
Challenges in Delivery
One of the main challenges was to deliver what the client and their stakeholders actually expected as a final product. Even though the requirements were elicited thoroughly and precisely, commercial products were released and deployed to production in stages. Special care was taken following an incremental approach when onboarding new brokers and buyers. It made sure day to day operations of the stakeholders are flawless and guaranteed the business continuity.
The application should have the capability of accessing the system by many users simultaneously. Therefore the reliability and responsiveness of the application were major concerns of the project. Other challenges were handling interconnected dynamical services dependency of the application and distributed traffic management (load balancing) in terms of the transactions.
Since 2012, Tea Auction platform solution has been used to manage the tea auctioning process which is worth US$ 1.5 billion annually. The success of the solution as a whole has led to bring in further stakeholders connected with the platform and Fidnez is currently working on enhancing the platform further.