Paperless Process Drives Sustainable Design & Fabrication
6 Min Read
Mar 6, 2023
Sustainable trade show exhibit house takes inventory management paperless.
Greenspace was using a custom web application developed in-house to manage inventory, shipping manifests, storage rates, and invoicing. In 2022, they learned AWS would no longer support their legacy tech stack.
Due to the cyclical nature of the trade show industry, their invoicing strategy demanded a platform that could support a constant flux of containers to & from their warehouses. This niche workflow was best supported by a custom solution.
They partnered with Steelhead Software to rebuild their platform from the ground up. Along the way they took the opportunity to make major improvements to their workflows that have saved hundreds of labor hours.
Stephanie Standlee - Operations Manager, and Josh Heath - Warehouse Supervisor, served as the stakeholders for this project.
Greenspace is an award-winning trade show exhibit company based in Hillsboro, Oregon. Founded in 2008, they quickly carved their niche by focusing on environmentally sustainable design, fabrication, and installation of world class trade show exhibits. Greenspace also provides storage and inventory management services for their clients at their local warehouse.
Angular 15 with Angular Material Design
ASP.NET Core 6
Entity Framework Core 6
Azure Cloud Platform (Azure Static Web apps, Azure Web apps)
Stability, security, and performance are all extremely important when building software a business can depend on. During the discovery phase, Greenspace wanted to focus on a number of key technical requirements:
The application had to be built using cloud services to minimize internal IT overhead.
The application had to separate the data from the UI to allow for easier data access.
The application had to last for 10+ years with regular maintenance.
With those in mind, the Steelhead team decided to use well supported, industry standard technology for the tech stack to build a best in class web application:
Angular was chosen for the front-end due to its popularity among open source developers, its strong ecosystem, and long term support from technology giants such as Google.
Google’s latest version of Material Design was a natural choice for the UX.
By utilizing Microsoft’s industry leading .NET Core back-end, Steelhead ensured the API could be supported well past the 10-year mark with regular updates and safe migration paths.
The architecture includes a highly dynamic and intuitive user interface.
CI / CD pipelines set up at the beginning of the project automated testing and deployments.
Secure cloud hosting with Microsoft Azure allows employees to work from anywhere.
Greenspace was using a custom inventory management solution originally built in 2013. The web application had been developed in-house over several years, slowly taking on critical business functions such as inventory management, shipping manifests, rate management, and invoice automation. The site soon became indispensable for daily operations.
In early 2022, AWS announced they would no longer provide hosting options for their legacy tech stack. They contracted Steelhead Software to perform a technical evaluation and upgrade their web application to meet modern standards.
“Steelhead partnered with us early in the process to identify the most critical features to build first.” - Josh Heath, Warehouse Supervisor
Upon performing the technical evaluation, Steelhead learned the software had not been properly maintained by Greenspace’s previous software vendor over the last several years. As a result, there was no cost-effective upgrade path. This left Greenspace in a precarious position - the clock was ticking on their existing software.
Greenspace decided to partner with Steelhead to rebuild their software from the ground up. Using a thorough discovery process they maintained control of the budget from the very beginning. Prioritization exercises were used to determine the which features to build now and which features could wait until a future date.
The new solution was built with a modern, scalable tech stack that could be taken to any hosting platform. Additionally, the Steelhead team designed a clean and intuitive UX pattern, built out with a modern front end framework. Greenspace moved their app from AWS to Microsoft Azure.
“The storage invoice generation feature has saved us hundreds of labor hours and completely eliminated client-facing inaccuracies on our storage invoices.” - Anita Hively, Finance Manager
With the rebuild, Greenspace took the opportunity to improve on a few business critical areas of their application. Robust searching & filtering allows Greenspace to search for exhibit parts across thousands of containers. Data entry is a breeze with smart UX patterns that automatically populate data and guide users through efficient workflows. And an updated PDF export workflow eliminated the need for manual manipulation when creating customer-facing documents.
Additionally, employees can seamlessly move inventory between clients and containers from a single view. Plus a new export tool supports customized shipping manifests and client-facing documentation.
“They came in on time and on budget - our employees were testing working software within weeks.” - Stephanie Standlee, Operations Manager
Inventory containers are constantly leaving and returning to the Greenspace warehouse. The new software supports Greenspace’s storage billing model, tracking changes to container size, location, stack-ability, and quantity throughout the quarter. The invoice logic uses these changes to generate very specific storage invoices that include credits and back charges.
Steelhead proactively monitors the site and makes updates as needed to keep up with industry best practices. Additionally, the site follows a strict maintenance plan to ensure it will stay up and running for years to come. With this peace of mind, Greenspace has the confidence to build new features on their prioritized roadmap over the next several quarters.