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Agile Development Goes Green: How New Trees Lead to Better Products

Diverse business people talking in a meeting. Business team having a discussion in a boardroom. Professionals work together to complete a project, sharing ideas and solutions.

Not long ago, Mike, a senior software engineer at PEX, demoed a cool new feature at our Friday developer showcase. It uses artificial intelligence to analyze receipts and match them with purchases.

This innovation earned more than a round of applause. After PEX employees voted it their favorite demo of the week, PEX planted a tree in Appalachia – Mike’s choice from more than 80 locations around the world.

The Best Demo Plants a Tree, but Everybody Wins

Like many companies today, PEX thrives on innovation. So far in 2023, we’ve developed and deployed an astounding 1,100 updates to our platform. All without a hitch. All using a unique Agile Development workflow that combines new features with new trees.

Agile Development, for those of us who don’t build software for a living, is a programming methodology that employs cross-functional collaboration, rapid iteration, and frequent, incremental deployments. Because it prioritizes people and communication over processes and tools, Agile Development frameworks deliver high-quality innovation with less risk of failure.

Whether you’re a developer or not, you can see the value of our Friday developer showcases. We open these meetings to the entire company. Everybody sees builds in the earliest stages. All feedback is welcome, whether from technology, operations, sales, customer success, marketing, or finance – even receptionists and assistants may contribute. It’s one reason PEX products meet customer needs and are easy to use.

Friday Developer Showcases are models of transparency, flexibility, collaboration, and customer satisfaction — core agile development principles. And core values at PEX.

PEX Gets Better, the World Gets Greener

The developer showcase is just one step in an iterative development process. Mike’s advancement in AI-powered receipt matching and analysis will need more planning, analysis, design, coding, and testing before it reaches our platform.

And when it comes time to test the feature with a PEX Card purchase, we’ll plant a tree. That’s how we like to test any release that needs a PEX Card purchase to prove it works. 

For instance, the first Virtual Vendor Cards didn’t offer 1% cash back. After we added this feature, we tested it by planting a tree.

We’ve made dozens of functional improvements to virtual vendor cards since we launched them last year. These include restricting a card’s use to a specific vendor, funding vendor card purchases in real time, and scheduling automatic funding for subscription payments.

We tested each of these features by planting a tree.

Building Great Products One Function, One Tree at a Time

Agile Development is more evolutionary than revolutionary. We don’t risk our platform’s stability and security with big, complex software projects. Instead, we build products through small, incremental deployments. 

Take PEX Credit Expense, for example. To create this product, we had to build dozens of components. Some supplied new functionality. Others extended the functionality of existing services on the PEX platform. Some ran invisibly in the background. Others ensured a simple, intuitive user experience.

We loaded these updates one by one, testing and verifying each new module before we added the next. No customer experienced one second of unplanned downtime or glitches in PEX’s performance during these updates.

PEX Visa Commercial Cards — our first charge card and a key feature of Credit Expense— needed extensive programming and several test purchases. Many tests planted a tree.

PEX has contributed more than 200 trees to global reforestation efforts since making this a part of the agile development process.

Start Your Own Tree Planting Program for $1

If you want to incentivize customers, employees, or stakeholders, consider planting trees. They’re good for the environment and great for team spirit. Everybody likes trees — employees, customers, and the community at large. Trees are as non-political as a cause can get.

They’re also inexpensive. One organization we work with plants trees for just $1 each. It’s probably the best buck you can spend on your company’s morale, carbon footprint, and image. 

Moreover, many tree-planting organizations will provide businesses with KPIs like acres reforested, wildlife species benefitted, women involved, jobs supported, and more. It’s one of the least controversial ways your organization can show a commitment to social and Net-Zero goals. 

So remember, the next time you swipe a PEX Card, earn a rebate, or use a valuable feature, there’s a lot of work and a bunch of new trees behind it.

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