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Delivering the Goods: Design Thinking Sprint

Better decisions for managing a global supply chain

How a concept sprint helped a global manufacturer find a solution that resulted in better decision-making.

Team

Project lead

Experience design director

> Experience Designer: research/workshop facilitation/wireframes/prototype

Misc. stakeholders

The client, a global machine parts company needed a way to manage its manufacturing process Regulations, shipping costs, trade policy have made the process more complex than ever, affecting the bottom line

Example: An airline is subject to fines and airport fees for a flight delay caused by a missing part. The longer it takes to deliver the part, the higher the fine.

Goal

Create an easy way for stakeholders to understand the factors affecting their business, through efficient and reliable data reporting.

Approach

A week-long concept sprint where we guided the client stakeholders through a design thinking exercise so they could learn a different approach to solving their business issues.

Result

We produced a meaningful prototype, and the client was able to understand the contribution of certain users, which data were actually necessary, as well as gain an appreciation for design thinking principles.

How it happened

20 people participated in the sprint. These were client’s management responsible for managing aspects of the supply chain.

 

Facilitators included a project lead, two designers (including myself), 3 consultants and 2 client stakeholders.

Week I: Prework

To prepare for the sprint the project lead and I interviewed a mixture of stakeholders, practitioners and end-users. Our questions included:

  • What are your most important goals? Need to achieve?
  • Pain points?
  • Tell me about a typical day, your main responsibilities, how your role fits in to the organization
We also engaged subject matter experts and conducted research to understand the topic.

At the end of Week I we had developed assets to prepare for Week II:

Problem Statement

Personas

Persona: George, Chief Operating Officer

Persona: Cynthia, analyst

Week II: Workshop

Monday: Kick off, personas & future state journey

INTERESTING TO NOTE 

At first the client insisted we only focus on George's persona and journey, as he would be the key stakeholder. Then as the team mapped out the future state journey, the client realized the importance of Cynthia’s role, and how it was sometimes more important than George's.

How might we?

Based on the steps in the future state journey - the group brainstormed a series of “how might we” questions, posted more detailed next steps, clustered similar ideas and created categories. Group members then posted “dots” on the ideas they felt warranted attention.

Tuesday morning - The Minimal Viable Product (MVP)

Next, the goal was to hone in and determine the minimal viable product (MVP) – what feature(s) would help the client meet its stated goal from the outset. To achieve this we plotted the category/steps generated from the “How About We” exercise against a timeline. The squares with the greatest amount of sticky notes determined where to prioritize over a series of release cycles

The result was captured in a Vision Statement:

Tuesday afternoon: Storyboards & Sketches

Wednesday & Thursday

On Wednesday I worked with the Experience Design Director to produce wireframes and an InVision prototype, which we tested and iterated with the client on Thursday

Main dashboard serving as a home page and features key metrics.

We had two main screens for each persona.

George would be able to drill down into an interface that features interactive data visualization so he could view different scenarios through "slide" or "click" functionality. If he wanted a deeper dive into a specific project, George could view the analysis performed by Cynthia.

Cynthia would be able to perform analysis based on data fed automatically from different business units throughout the company. She would have the ability to categorize and view by region, As with George, she would be taking advantage if interactive features. The system would provide the same results that Cynthia would have otherwise generated through an Excel spreadsheet. As a result her analysis would be based on information that is more reliable.

Friday: wrap up

By the end, the stakeholders realized that by focusing on one minimal viable product and walking through the user’s path, they were able to produce a meaningful product.

Aside from learning the benefits of design thinking, other key takeaways included:

  • Stakeholders realizing the importance of the Analyst role in creating a new platform
  • How much cost data was unnecessary to report, and in fact obscured the process
  • Graphic interaction of geographic location – an easy API, made it easier to pinpoint operations by location, an important factor.
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