I lead the day-zero strategic design team for a global, industry-wide B2B platform.
5 of the biggest agri-trade companies formed a joint-venture to create Covantis, a digital B2B platform aimed at simplifying and streamlining highly complex commercial and logistics processes for the entire global agri-trade industry.
This industry has seen a long history of inefficiency in post-trade execution. The agricultural commodity supply chain is overly complex and massively labour-intensive. Email and physical paper have been the main interface, with large operating costs and risks. Earlier standardization and simplification attempts failed due to lack of (end-user) trust and concerns about privacy. To streamline the way they did business, the 5 biggest companies envisioned a new platform together where all agri-trade players can connect and communicate digitally.
They partnered with Mirabeau/Cognizant to design a platform that would be adopted, not only by their own employees, but by all players in the industry. Their goal was to change the way agri-trade business is being done.
I lead the initial 6 person strategy, research and design team from scratch. My main objectives in the first year:
- Establishing a user-centric, agile way of working,
- Guiding all levels of stakeholders through the first phases of research,
- Definition and scoping of the product,
- Setting up a design system,
- Running the iterative design and user validation track.
With the design team I organised workshops with potential customers and validated assumptions with future users and experts. I set up processes to ensure the user experience matched people’s expectations and allowed experts to carry out their tasks efficiently and quickly. The team closely worked with first 4, and later 6 development teams across 4 countries to implement functionality and continuously improve it.
I regularly gave updates to the internal leadership team and outward-facing to potential customers to keep the anticipation and momentum before the first launch.
The platform provides one source of truth for trade nominations and communication about documents & contracts. This was a huge improvement over Excel sheets and Outlook. A simple to understand “string” visualises the contract relations and interdependencies of the many companies. All re-usable design elements were captured in an extensive, modular design system.
As the organisation itself grew, I advised on embedding customer centricity in the core of the organisation. This naturally led to the organisation gaining more in-house skills over time. Together with the product delivery processes being established and running well, this meant that my role naturally reached its conclusion: I helped the company set up their design ability by doing it together with them until they could do it themselves.
Covantis was launched in 2021. By the end of 2021 the platform had been used to manage the execution of more than 1000 vessels for grains and oilseeds, replacing many millions of emails and greatly increasing the efficiency and speed of execution.