UPS Supply Chain Symphony
As one of the world's largest package delivery companies, UPS wants to build a platform that provides end-to-end supply chain visibility. UPS Supply Chain Symphony collects, manages, and integrates supply chain data, empowering its clients and partners to make informed business decisions.
Understanding Supply Chain
”What does supply chain do?” “What are the steps involved in the supply chain journey?” The first step in our process was defining the product. In this phase, it started off with desk research and discussions with stakeholders and product managers to understand its context. This helps to define the scope of the product, understand the requirements and gather insights about the goals and purpose that UPS has – not only for the product itself but also the business behind it.
Shipment Journey Map
Shipment is the key data the system uses to display status and measure goals. A shipment journey map was created to navigate how the data flows through the system in relation to the users, the timeline and the location during the process. From this perspective, we were able to see how the data could be diverged, consolidated and interpreted by different roles, and in turn prioritize the information hierarchy to create different views.
Identify Key Players (Proto-Persona)
Before we talked to the real users, we used workshops and brainstorming sessions with stakeholders who are familiar with the product and asked them to share their knowledge of the target users. We then gathered those notes and identified commonalities to create proto-personas.
Through this, we aligned the stakeholders' views of the customer and gained buy-in for user-centred design. Additionally, it allowed stakeholders and team members to be more empathetic to end-user needs.
User Research +
After determining Desk Agent as our key persona and our most avid user, we conducted user research and usability studies to help make better, more informed decisions.
As the first step, we created the customer journey of the Desk Agent and used it as a reference to structure our user interviews. From these, we gained valuable insights and uncovered many pain points and opportunities. All of our initial assumptions were validated by talking with real people with real experience.
(Credit: Miho Tomiyama)
Our visual design team then quickly put together prototypes for the usability studies. It helped us gain user data, enabled us to validate our detailed and complex design ideas, as well as identify opportunities to improve for the next iteration.
MVP & Learning
The first version of the design (MVP) had won positive feedback. The newly designed platform elevated the overall user experience by providing a simple and clear interface design. However, there was a lack of evidence and research-based data to support the design rationale. We started to receive feedback and comments from users regarding the absence of some key features. We also saw that some pages weren't being utilized as expected. Some users even said that the new design is pleasant to look at but it's challenging to navigate around.
(1st iteration/ MVP)
With the proper research methodologies mentioned previously (stakeholder interviews, user interviews, and tagging analysis), we were able to idenitify the problems, prioritize of the crucial pain points from the users and business, and made feature updates accordingly.
Key Issues & Agile Solutions
“One size fits all.”
The initial objective of this platform is to create one design solution that increases shipment visibility throughout the entire logistic process and covers the majority of the industry's needs. As we started to understand the complication of the logistic workflow, we learned that there are distinctive users' needs during each step and process. It became apparent that one common platform would not satisfy all types of user needs across various business domains. As the platform evolves, one of the key challenges as a team is to identify the target user type this platform can be optimized for.
Duplicate data and unclear user paths.
Most of the pages on the platform display a large number of tables and graphs, and a lot of them seem to be repeated with slightly different criteria. For example, the homepage dashboard would have the same shipment tables as the inbound shipment landing page. And it takes time for the system to respond and recall data each time when the users enter a new page. Without properly mapping out user's types and their specific needs to the respective data, it becomes a cumbersome and inefficient experience. After the MVP, one of our goals is to pinpoint a clear relationship and purpose between each page.
(Above left: Homepage Dashboard provides an overview of shipment statues using visuals and big numbers. Above right: The shipment Detail page uses tables to display detailed information per shipment.)
(Above left: Drill down pages use filters to generate tables with custom data range. Above right: Reports page for the users to request specific report types as per need.)
The limited scalability of the design system.
Shipment Milestone and Date Picker are two of the most crucial components that drive the entire experience. The majority of the data are generated based on these two inputs. However, their position and the design couldn't support the ever-increasing scenarios or future expansion of the platform. For example, the constrain of horizontal navigation (milestones) and shipment statuses does not provide flexibility to accommodate higher numbers of shipment statuses and details.
(Above left: Shipment statues are hidden with the limited space of horizontal navigation. Above right: The revised iteration uses vertical navigation to accommodate more items vertically.)
(Exploration to increase flexibilty in setting time range)