Sustainability assessment web application

Transformation of a complex Excel sustainability model into a no-code web application that saves 20x time to a Swiss research institute

Client agroecology.science
Year 2022
Role Discovery, MVP, Custom Software
01 —

Summary

To support agroecology.science in their mission to enable farmers to better measure their impact on the environment, we developed a web-based application with which farmers can assess their sustainability.

 The web application consists of a dashboard for farmers, in which they can start new assessments, review previous ones, access their reports as well as download them. Furthermore, Aelsa provides a highly flexible way for administrators to adjust the current version of the assessment without the need for additional development work. B-works turned a complex Excel based assessment with many formulas into an easily accessible web application that provides lots of freedom to the administrators.

Project category: Digital Product

Title: Aelsa

Client: agroecology.science, Switzerland

IndustryResearch, sustainability, farming

Objectives: Development of a sustainability assessment desktop web application for farmers, an admin dashboard and a website for the project. Turn an excel based assessment into an application that keeps its underlying logic within the Excel and that allows the administrator great flexibility, to make updates either within the excel or directly in the web applications frontend. Activities in the project included:

 

  • Discovery workshop with the client to fully identify the users needs and problems, create personas and to map out customer journeys for specific use cases.

  • Development of the web application for desktop, that allows users to automatically register via the website, to conduct an assessment independent from agroecology.science and to view their reports

  • Development of the admin dashboard, that allows the admins to update the assessment, manage users and and their submitted assessments

  • Development of the projects website, incl. the registration process for new users

B-works roleDiscovery, UX/UI Design, Software Development

TechnologyLaravel (backend), Laravel Nova (desktop frontend), WordPress (Project website)

Project size6 months with 3 B-works team members

02 —

Our work

For this project, B-works put together the Scrum Development Team, consisting of 2 Full-Stack Developers and a Product Owner.

The project was split into a discovery phase and an implementation phase that was handled with Scrum until go-live.

Process and Tools:

The following factors were decisive for the successful and timely implementation of the project:

  • Kick-off meeting to define the project goals and the functionality to be achieved

  • Building a synergetic team of 3, consisting of a product owner and two full-stack developers

  • Bi-weekly sprints with sprint reviews, plannings and grooming sessions

  • Bi-weekly progress reports with the client after the sprint review

  • Backend development with Laravel

  • Front-end development with Laravel Nova (desktop)

  • Website development with WordPress

  • Monthly time recording and budget reporting with Jira & Harvest

  • Agile testing by B-works, ongoing acceptance by the client, and parallel bugfixing by the development team

Technologies employed:

  • Laravel

  • Laravel Nova

  • WordPress

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Key Benefits for the Client

The biggest challenge in this project was the transformation of a very complex Excel file with all its logic into an intuitively usable web application that performs the same calculations. One of the tricky parts was that the original file wasn’t developed with the intention in mind to turn it into a web application. All of the formulas inside that file are very complex and needed to work the same in the web application. Furthermore, the current state of the assessment in work in progress. Therefore, it is constantly updated which required great flexibility for the administrators in order to be more independent from developers so as to not have to code anything when applying changes.

To achieve that, the team improved the original structure of the excel file, to make it better machine readable. This allowed the developers to implement a mapping logic so that administrators can easily make changes within the excel file, upload it into the web application which then applies these automatically in the frontend. This is a huge time and cost safer for the client in the future.

Overall, the web application enables agroecology.science to scale the assessment throughout the country. Beforehand it was often necessary that an advisor conducted the assessment together with a farmer, which required an effort of 4-5 hours per assessment. This amount of work can now go down to only 15 minutes per assessment which is a very significant time and cost safer for the institute.

  • Scalable web application for sustainability assessments for swiss farmers
  • Admin dashboard that allows administrators to manage the assessment themselves, and to constantly apply updates

  • Simple user management and management of their assessments

  • Product website including FAQ page and contact form

  • Delivery within budget and go-live date, 6 months after project start.

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