Corporate supply chains are complex beasts. Most companies go for off-the-shelf solutions or have supply chain management modules inside their ERP Software (Enterprise Resource Planning), such as SAP or Zoho. Our client for this case, however, was a multinational consulting group (who shall remain nameless for confidentiality reasons) who opted to take the road less traveled and develop a proprietary system inside of their own ERP despite the massive size of the company.
February 2019 – April 2019
Product Strategy, UX Design, Visual Design
Corporate projects can be intimidating to tackle, but fortunately, our team was used to challenges. We started off this project with the company’s products and a thorough business needs analysis to fully understand the company. This helped us get a good sense of the company’s operations management, the requests of the clients, and also receive some early feedback from users. After the analysis, we attended a few discovery meetings with the PM, tested the products, and discussed the roadmap. From there, we drew a diagram to help us navigate the project and organize the different stakeholders.
The intent of the diagram was to study the product and its environment in a format that our design team can understand and use to explain to others. The main takeaway from this was the sheer complexity of our client’s supply chain and the different users that intervened at one step or another.
After discovering this, our next step was to create our proto personas, which highlighted the three major components of every persona: Reasons for using the product, triggers for using the product, and goals for using the product. Through meeting with the PM, we successfully nailed what we were looking for. We were able to pin down the interaction of each type of employee with the system.
Due to the technical barrier to software development getting lower by the day, the true question is not whether we can build a program but what we need to build. That’s where UX design comes in. Instead of speculating about what the product should look like (we’re not talking about the visual aspect here), we went for a user-centric route and asked the users directly.
After doing so, it was clear that the first thing that needed our attention was the purchasing system. The old system was inefficient and inconvenient, and so we had to begin from scratch. The first thing we needed to do was to understand the challenges of the old system and the new requirements from clients. After several discussions, we came up with a primitive information architecture diagram, which we simplified to help visualize what we expected from each component. The diagram also gave us the ability to rearrange the system’s elements in a way that made better sense.
All we needed now was a prototype. To that end, we used mainly low fidelity wireframes using the design system Bootstrap 3. We would later refresh it with a layer of proper visual design. But for the purposes of the usability test we needed to conduct, this was more than enough.
From there, it was off to the interviews. Oh, yes, UX designers use Microsoft Excel quite extensively too. When you have many personas such as this case, things can get a little out of hand, especially that we make it a rule to get in touch with at least 3 people from every persona before we validate any assumptions or learnings. Notice the importance of color coding that we keep all across the process.
Another thing to beware of is taking notes. Trust us, when you do 20 interviews in the course of two weeks, things tend to get mixed together. That’s why we used Google Keep for its simple interface, organization system, and collaboration capabilities.
For stand-up meetings, it is essential to use a physical medium. A Google jamboard would have been nice, but so would telepathy! Yes, we went back old school style and used sticky notes. The great thing about sticky notes is that their small size forces you to think about what you want to note and be concise. This allowed us to note down only the most important and essential details, prioritizing what matters most.