In July 2017, my team lead assigned me to a new and exciting role – designing for our internal business processes by exploring the possibility of creating an end-to-end web-based software solution to streamline the procurement to merchandising processes. The timeline for this project looked somewhat like this –
Note: As shown above the project didn’t make it to completion and was abandoned after the early concepts stage due to changing business / management priorities.
Following activities were conducted to understand the core problems and challenges –
- Usability review of all existing internal software (this review was submitted for quick fixes)
- Interviews with all levels of stakeholders – 9 teams, 3 levels in each team. Understand the needs first, what were the jobs to be done?
- Documentation of all existing workflows based on use and inputs from product manager.
I mapped the functions of different team members, pulled out quotes of issues they described and created task buckets to enhance our understanding of the problem. I organised this data in multiple ways (journeys, diagrams, etc). The idea was to build an understanding from the needs of the stakeholder towards software requirements vs. the other way around.
After synthesising observations and information from various sources the following major findings were considered as key problems to fix in the new system.
Representing workflows for design
Before moving to design it was important to map and present the workflow we would design for. Here’s an example for the boutique manager in a merchandising team.
With the new and comprehensive understanding of the problems faced by our internal stakeholders I created a business process management software design from scratch to suit our unique needs. These are early concepts which were not developed further due to the issues mentioned earlier.
Some note-able features of the design
- Configurable filters to make targeting and working with projects. Keeps the list clean and clutter free.
- Search function to quickly open any boutique based on ID or brand name and multiple other parameters.
- Visual representation of the workflow timeline to see exactly where a particular project is currently and reach out to the relevant team.
- Minimal window switching to ensure that the user gets all the contextual information in one go but also giving the options to open multiple projects in multiple tabs if required.
It was unfortunate that the project had to be shelved at the concept stage but I learned a lot.
- Research and Interviewing skills
- Mapping and organising tasks and workflows
- Synthesising observations and data to come up with clear requirements for design and development
The mockups received a lot of praise from the merchandising team but alas! it was never to see the light of the day.