Sherlock – Next Generation Taxi Management Solution

The Challenge

Addison Lee is Europe's largest minicab company, crediting its bespoke taxi dispatch and management solution 'Shamrock' as instrumental in growing from £20 to £250m in revenue.

In 2008, with over 70% of the FTSE100 as customers and around 1000 vehicles at the time Addison Lee’s success in the newly regulated corporate minicab sector saw the company struggling to cope with the volume of demand at peak times. Furthermore Addison Lee’s clients required a flexible booking platform that could handle complex B2B booking processes, customized to each business and adaptable to changing demands.

Addison Lee also required a software development partner to help them explore new revenue opportunities through acquisition, geographic expansion and new booking technologies such as smartphone apps and corporate travel bookers.

Haulmont were given two years to develop the product and take it to market. The solution had to be built from scratch, but encompass all the experience of Addison Lee over the past decade. The product needed to be able to adapt to the differing market, regulatory and geographic differences of global clients, whilst supporting high levels of business process automation and scalability.

Solution

Because of the diverse needs of corporate account customers, Haulmont required a development platform that could support high levels of customisation for each client without causing branching challenges for on-going support and new core updates.

  • Speed of development was also key as Addison Lee’s priority was to target major international cities such as New York and Paris for initial expansion and customer demand for its services in these cities was growing fast.

  • Development started in March 2011, to a specification drawn from Haulmont’s years of experience working with Addison Lee. The product was to be differentiated from the competition by its license model - with low up-front costs combined with an ongoing license fee charged per-vehicle. This model was designed to encourage fleets to grow quickly and enable ongoing development to deliver a constant flow of new features to the product.

Result

From 2008-2012 Haulmont’s Shamrock system was key to growing Addison Lee's business. Shamrock supported fleet growth from 1,000 to 5,000 vehicles with up to 37,000 journeys a day allocated with 98% automation. During this period driver wages grew alongside customer satisfaction while back office staff numbers remained consistent.

As a result of the success of Shamrock, Haulmont developed Sherlock as a sister solution available to the wider market.

In less than two years the first client went live with Sherlock – LeCab, based in Paris, launched in December 2012. Sherlock was built and implemented within 18 months thanks to CUBA Platform's rapid and scalable framework.

LeCab’s impressive growth following launch is proof of CUBA’s ability to create business critical enterprise systems and equally important, its ability to support scalability. Despite launching on essentially the beta version of the product, LeCab saw its fleet grow to 250 vehicles in the first year, 450 in the second and now boasts a fleet of over 2000 taxis – just three years after launch.

As well as speed of development and scalability, Sherlock perfectly demonstrates CUBA’s Extensions feature. Most clients utilise Sherlock’s out-of-the-box functionality for approximately 80% of their business, with a further 20% bespoke functionality. Whether it’s seat sensors in Luanda, time based pricing models in Moscow, unique tipping features in New York or enhanced address search in Beirut, every installation of Sherlock has a high degree of bespoke functionality for each client. Despite this, Haulmont is committed to regular updates of the core product for all customers and manages to deliver this whilst retaining 99.98% uptime across clients across the globe.

“CUBA allows the team to focus on the development of application business logic and not get distracted by design, development and maintenance of low level, but enterprise-critical functionality such as access control rights management, support for highly available deployment configurations, full text search, etc.”

“CUBA’s extensions functionality is priceless for product development. The ability to customize the solution for every customer without changing core product, whilst keeping update procedure not just possible but simple is the foundation of Sherlock’s success in the global taxi market“.

Dmitry Odobescu, product lead for Sherlock