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Rail Delivery Services (RDS)

Case Study

The Challenge

When California-based Rail Delivery Services (RDS) started in 1981, they had six trucks, one dispatcher, and a homegrown FoxPro system running on DOS.

More than 30 years later, their fleet had expanded to 126 trucks with more on the horizon.

When RDS came to Menlo, they knew their software needed a complete overhaul. They also knew they needed to hire and train new developers to support it. Could Menlo not just design and build the new application but also mentor their IT team in the process? Oh, and could they do it from more than 2,000 miles away?

It has been Menlo's training that paved the way for the RDS team to take this giant step. We owe your entire team credit...and each of us have been enriched by Menlo's guidance.”

- Judi Stefflre
RDS, Co-Founder, Chariman & COO

How Menlo Helped

First, Menlo’s High-Tech Anthropologists® (HTAs) went out to California for field work,
observing and interviewing RDS dispatchers and staff, who were understandably wary about the changes coming.

As the designs emerged, RDS users continued to work closely with the HTAs, walking through mockups and helping them discover gaps and areas for improvement. In the end, Menlo produced a design with full buy-in, even excitement, from the dispatch team.

On the development side, RDS hired several new developers and paired each member of its software team with Menlonians. Miles apart, through screen-sharing applications, each pair coded together in C#, learning Menlo’s approach to development, including automated unit testing and object-oriented programming. Pairs changed partners each weekly iteration so RDS developers could experience a variety of mentors as they touched each part of the new system.

But RDS didn’t want to stop there. They also wanted to learn and adopt Menlo’s unique approach to project management. So Menlo coached them in running their own “planning game” with their CEO each week, prioritizing and assigning the tasks the team would be working on.

The end result was not just a new software program, joyfully adopted by its end users (though that’s no small thing in itself). RDS also walked away with a well-trained new development team, closely familiar with the code base of the system they would be supporting and well-equipped to expand through the Menlo approach they now embraced.