Developing and Evaluating Dealership Technology Solutions


After the impact of COVID, businesses witnessed the effects of the Great Resignation (also known as the Great Reshuffle). The resulting labor shortage means companies have to figure out how to recruit employees while retaining current team members. Meanwhile, businesses turn to technology to help drive security, flexibility, and efficiency. However, it can be difficult to find the right one with so many products available. At Dominion DMS, our Technology team faces the same types of challenges. Here are some ways we identify the right solutions for our business and optimize development processes while also hiring the right people in this rapidly-changing market.

Balancing Automation (AI) and Human Touch

When it comes to technology development, quality assurance is critical. Any disruption impacts the end-user experience, so catching problems quickly ensures that platforms are reliable with high uptime and performance. At Dominion DMS, we leverage both human verification and machine automation to achieve that for the VUE DMS platform. 

One of the things we do is unit-level testing, both on the server-side and the client-side. Next, our team manually conducts code reviews to ensure the work is done correctly and the code logic makes sense. Afterward, we rely on automation for integration testing, which runs through the entire code base every night. If a problem is detected, a report flags the tests that failed and tracks changes, such as unexpected behavior. Our QA team also performs recurrent regression testing and manual testing of new features prior to a release. Reducing manual testing and relying on automated testing makes the process more efficient and consistent while minimizing the risk of human complacency and fatigue, which lead to potential misses.

Identifying The Development Framework

There are two generally recognized methodologies for development: Agile and Waterfall. The Agile Methodology breaks development into various phases and involves many team members cycling through increasingly improved versions of a product until all requirements are met without breaking. The Waterfall Methodology involves development where phases flow one into the next upon completion, and heavily involve the customer in the testing and minimizing bugs quickly.

Agile Methodology is a more highly efficient framework. However, companies usually modify their own version of Agile, typically a hybrid between Waterfall and Agile. At Dominion DMS, we strive for information upfront to increase efficiency, but we understand there will not always be 100% build-up on documented specs before we begin work. In those cases, we typically start work when at least 70% of specifications are complete to move faster.  Clients may not see much of our development process since we focus on small rather than big changes, but we collaborate closely with our Product Management team to deliver value incrementally.

Leveraging Automotive Dealership Experience

The strength of the VUE DMS product lies in the experience of our team members. Our Technology team members bring automotive retail experience. Several used to work in dealerships before becoming a developer; in fact, one of our newest team members used to work in parts for a body shop.

This experience brings tremendous value. The technologists know the process from our dealers’ point of view and understand what goes on in a dealership. Having specific automotive industry knowledge brings insights and unique perspectives to the software design process.

Recruiting The Right Team Members

Finding the right team members with automotive industry experience and development capabilities is challenging. We have an extensive interview process to help us identify candidates who meet our business needs. First, we provide technical questions to the recruiters. If they pass, we go through questions about technology use, the types of new technology in the market, and what we are interested in. Then we give them a project to take home for five days. Next, we review their results to see how they thought about and designed the project. Lastly, bring them in again to ask more questions. It is a lengthy process and very time-consuming, but we feel it is worth the time to get a high-quality candidate.

We also offer a 6-month contract to hire, which allows both the candidate and the management team to discover cultural and technical fit.  This process helps us hire faster without having to go through a trial project.

Differentiating As An Employer

It is even more critical for businesses to differentiate as an employer of choice during a labor shortage. At VUE DMS, flexibility has been an attractive benefit for prospective employees. More than 90% of people who interview with us don’t want to go back to the office – and they don’t have to. The cost of commuting can be high, and working remotely means more time for their families.

Longevity is another differentiator. Candidates often ask how long I have been with Dominion Enterprises and VUE DMS. Many of our leadership and staff have been with the company for a long time, averaging 5-10 years. That speaks to the quality of our culture.

Our leadership is solid and that inspires people to work here. When we recruit, especially within the industry, it helps that they know our president Sharon Kitzman. They know she has the experience and knowledge to drive success. We have a great combination of the automotive domain and tribal knowledge and tenure.

Final Thoughts On Evaluating Software Solutions

Like every business, our team also evaluates software to help us do our job better. When looking at new tools, the most critical question to ask is, “What do we need that software for? What problem do we need technology to solve?” It helps to engage team members who will be using the tool daily. Once we have that information, we start researching online and comparing features with similar products. Once we narrow it down to the top options, we meet with the sales representatives and view live demos to ask questions. If possible, we also try to get references from other customers who used the software before and how they feel about it. Using newer techniques and development frameworks also works in our favor, software developers feel attracted to newer technologies and that is a differentiating factor with us, as we develop VUE DMS using current and best of breed frameworks.

One of the critical aspects is uptime. As mentioned earlier, downtime can be disruptive to business operations, so it is essential to ensure the platform is reliable and can quickly recover from a disaster. So, how reliable is your dealer management system?

If you are not happy with your current uptime performance, reconsider a new DMS. Consider VUE DMS.

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