Supply Chain Management Tool

I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this design case study. All information in this example is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of Boeing.

Just Boeing

Supply Chain Management

The following design case is based on actual events. Only the names, locations, and events have been changed.

Project Details

  • Company: Boeing
  • Product: Tool
  • Year: 2019
  • Tools:

Goal

To begin the longer term efford to simplify the TIE fighter supply chain discrete ordering by 70%, for Supply Chain Management Analysts (SCMA), by giving accurate and timely information to suppliers.

  • Reduce TIE fighters shortages by giving accurate and timely information to Naboo suppliers.
  • Reduce inventory providing information about accurate priorities to suppliers.
  • Reduce cancellations and reschedules.

As a Supply Chain Management Analysts for the Empire, I want an accurate method to processed purchase orders so I can respond and prioritize to the demands of the TIE fighter program in an accurate and timely manner.

My role

I was the sole UX designer on an Agile team comprised of 5 developers, a product manager, a scrum master, and a quality engineer. I was responsible for determining the overall design direction of the project, while collaborating with the rest of the team on ideation.

In embodying the iterative Design Cycle methodology for a user-centered, lean and agile process. I followed and the next design practices and concepts:

  • CONDUCT RESEARCH. Research potential users to find out what their goals and needs are in order to determine product value.
  • COLLABORATE ACROSS DISCIPLINES. Leading - 1-hour Design Studio. This workshop gathers various team members into a room to sketch solutions around a single focused scenario and a prioritized set of features. The goal is to uncover use cases, gather ideas, and provide insight to other team members to make planning smoother.
  • DELIVER DESIGN DECISIONS. Led the team through a thoughtful and meaningful process making incremental design decisions along the way. These decisions are delivered in many forms such as a conversation, sketch, whiteboard session, wireframe, detailed mockup, or a prototype.
  • SEEK FEEDBACK. I sought feedback from users and stakeholders constantly sharing my work with fellow design peers and gather feedback.
  • COMMUNICATE EARLY AND OFTEN. Being part of a Balanced and Agile team means I communicate with the team as a leader, facilitator, and educator. The team relies on me to lead how the product will act and look, facilitate conversations to gather feedback and educate the team on research findings.

Kickoff

Review the business/product/engagement goals, business context, stakeholders involved, risks and mitigations.

During the 1-day kickoff, we gathered the following information in collaboration with the stakeholder group involved.

Actor mapping

An actor map is a visual depiction of the key organizations and individuals that influence a topic, allowing insight into the players within a system.

Video card

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Proto Persona

An overview of a target user outlining their process or workflow, needs and goals. Proto-persona helps all the team members who may not be familiar with real users to have silhouette of users. And when planning a new project or a new function, it ensures everyone is on the same page. It facilitate communication and team work.

The following blurred image shows the final Protopersona obtained during the Kickoff meeting.

Image shows a protopersona based on stakeholder feedback.
Blurred image shows the final Protopersona obtained during the Kickoff meeting.

Discovery and Framing

A collaborative process led by the Designer that explores and validates product ideas to gain the definition needed for solution.

Discovery

The goal of Discovery is to gain a deep understanding of the business case and users.

What problem are we solving?

Assumptions Workshop

An assumption is formed out of the given problem and is assumed to be true. Each individual of the team came up with their own solution to the problem out which assumptions are created.

Evaluate each idea quickly and individually. Roughly plot them on the grid where they make most sense. Once many items are on the grid, begin to discuss with your teammates and re-position them in relation to each other.

Identify high-risk uncertainties.

User interviews

We wrote a plan and script to use during the interviews. Gathering the team (Designer, PM) to generate those questions and prioritize them into objectives.

One-on-one interviews with SCMA from the Empire. The format consisted of a lead interviewer and a notetaker. We alternated roles during the series of interviews. We visited the headquarters of the Empire in Everettsley for four days where we conducted a total of twenty interviews. We sought exiting and past behaviors by asking non-leading questions and look for stories from the potential user.

Synthesis user interview results.

An affinity diagram helped us synthesize and identify common themes in our research. With the help of our team, we also constructed a journey map outlining the process SCMA follow, highlighting where users experienced the most pain.

John gets to work at 8:00 am and pulls his list of tasks. He opens his first emergent task (parts shortage) and begins to work on it.

User journey.

What gets the TIE fighter out of the door?

Service blueprint

Service blueprints map out the relationship between various service components (people, processes, and props) and customer touchpoints. (Nielsen Norman, 2019). We wanted to discover weaknesses in the deliver process of "spaceships".

Poor user experiences are often due to an internal organizational flaw. While we can quickly understand what may be wrong in a user interface, determining the root cause of a fundamental issue is much more difficult. Blueprinting shows the big picture and offers a map of dependencies that allows a business to discover a weak leak at its core.

Blurred image shows the service blueprint for delivering spaceships
Blurred image shows the service blueprint for delivering TIE fighters.

The problem

Problem ecosystem

The multiple tools that users use for ordering and the number of organizations that are involved in the process was cleary the main problem for users to process purchase orders. All the information gathered during the Discovery phase helped us to understand what was happening.

Solution

Create a web tool, one to rule them all, that based on a series of questions presented to the user delivers the best method to order parts.

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Framing

During the discovery phase, PM and I learned more about the problem space and created personas to better understand our users.

After discovery, we started the framing phase. Here, we started working on solutions. After brainstorming and applying some of the research insights we gathered during the discovery phase, we created an initial wireframe. We thought it would be an amazing panacea for all the pain points we believed SCMA were experiencing.

Design studio

  • Focus the team by writting down a specific scenario to sketch a solution for.
  • Give team members a limited amount of time to sketch their ideas.
  • When time is up, we took feedback to create one or multiple design solutions from everyone's contribution.

Our first attempt at our solution intended to be a "one tool to rule them all". We tried to bundle a ton of functionality into one neat package:

  • Showing how much the empire saves by parts.
  • Suppliers info updated.
  • Visibility in transactions.

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We scoped down our ideas to target the specific problem we were solving. We honed in on a minimum viable product (MVP), which is essentially a version of a new product that is just valuable enough that users will adopt it. We could then iterate on the solution based on real-world usage patterns.

Low fidelity wireframing

We collected general feedback by showing our wireframes to our internal users. We gained more context and got a concrete understanding of the specific steps in the ordering system journey. As our context and understanding increased, so did the content fidelity of our wireframe.

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Wireframing Testing

We spent the next couple of weeks iterating on our MVP using the build-measure-learn lean framework. This involved wireframing, usability testing, and synthesizing the results to gain insights on how to improve the solution, then doing it all over again for the next iteration of the product. We collected general feedback by showing our wireframes to our internal users. Thus, we gained more context and got a concrete understanding of the specific steps in the ordering system journey. As our context and understanding increased, so did the content fidelity of our wireframe.

Throughout this process, at each revision of the wireframe we balanced user needs and the constraints of the Empire, attempting to iterate in a way that added value on both sides.

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Prototypes

Using Axure as the prototype tool helps us communicate the user flow, navigation, and the basic interactions.This was a great way to communicate with the teammates and stakeholders. Also, it helped us to elicit quick feedback from users.

Axure prototype password protected

User stories

After the rapid prototyping phase of the framing process, it was time to write user stories. User stories are short, atomic descriptions of a feature articulated from the perspective of the user. This allows each feature’s functionality to be explicitly defined, and to be built out in exactly the way it was intended.

After all the stories were written, we had an iteration planning meeting in which we assessed the relative effort necessary to complete each story.

After several iterations of this story-writing process, the tool was fully built out in a staging environment and we were able to finally push the MVP to production.

Living Styleguides

  • I created sets of specification docs to communicate requirements to engineering.
  • Its creation and maintenance is great opportunity for designers and developers to pair together and reach shared understanding.

Sketch measure was used to give developers what they needed.

Results

  • Reduce "TIE fighters" shortages by giving accurate and timely information to suppliers.
  • Improve Supply Chain demand via reduction in fewer rescheduling signals to discrete ordering method scheduling.
  • Move discrete purchased orders to a systematic ordering method.
  • Reduce inventory providing information about accurate priorities to suppliers.
  • Improving efficiency for SCMA purchase order processing.
  • Reduce cancellations and reschedules.
  • Improve employee morale by reducing noise in the system.
Simplified the Supply Chain Discrete (SCD) ordering method by xx%

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Carlos Marin Burgos
Website Designed and Hand-Coded by Carlos Marin Burgos