2018, RESEARCH / UX DESIGN / VISUAL DESIGN / PRODUCT MANAGEMENT
Designed and shipped a proof-of-concept web app at Deloitte Digital.
Project Jupiter is a blockchain-based web app aimed to improve efficiency, transparency, accuracy, and security in the oil and gas supply chain industry.
I designed and shipped this proof-of-concept over 4 sprints with a team of engineers, product managers, and other designers. My role on the team was the lead designer and a product manager. We used a rapid prototyping approach in order to ship a minimal viable product for faster release into the market.
problem space & research.
Current practices in the oil and gas industry for securing equipment and services for field work are inefficient and inaccurate. This is caused by procedures in the supply chain management industry that are archaic, manual, and obscure. For instance, purchase orders are still manually inputted to legacy systems and distributed in physical copies that get easily lost or damaged.
We met with several industry experts and users to discuss the problems and needs in further depth. The problems stem from 3 key factors:
Asset tracking: There is often a discrepancy between ordered and delivered equipment parts. Due to lack of transparency, it’s difficult to track and identify at which points of the transaction were the assets lost or stolen.
Document reconciliation: There are many parties involved in the supply chain management process (e.g. procurement, freight, site owner, inspector, contractors, vendors, inventory, etc.). This results in many contracts that are created in the process. These papers are currently manually reconciled, which is time-consuming and prone to errors.
Payment processing: Payments typically take up to 3 months to process. This delay is due to a number of factors, including industry norms and limitations. Since these are high-value transactions, this delay can impact businesses’ cash flows and overall financial health.
Our objectives were to use blockchain technology to address the unmet needs of the users in this industry. Blockchain technology can assist with current processes to improve efficiency, transparency, accuracy, and security.
Blockchain carved an opportunity for our needs due to inherent properties of the technology. In simple terms, transactional data can be pushed to the blockchain, which is accessible and viewable by anyone. Data is immutable, which means that users cannot lie about the location or value of an asset during the transaction. In addition to pushing data, Ethereum is a computing platform which can be used to write smart contracts. Given a set of conditions, smart contracts are used to enable automatic execution of desired actions. Here is a summary of the benefits that are applicable to our use cases:
Secure: Trust built into payments and paperwork.
Transparent: Visibility in tracking assets.
Time-efficient: Reduced time delays in shipments and payments.
Cost-efficient: Reduced manual labour in reconciling paperwork.
Accurate: Reduced human error in filling out contracts, reconciling paperwork, losing documents, and damaging documents.
Real-time: Improved process and maintenance given real-time data.
identifying the use case.
In order to narrow our scope, we decided to focus on one case in order to meet our timelines and ship a fully functional MVP. We focused our use case on parts and critical spares, which involve 3 types of users:
Procurement: “I buy oil & gas equipment for my business.”
Vendor: “I supply oil & gas equipment to businesses.”
Inventory: “I assess oil & gas equipment shipments received by the business.” Inventory personnel are part of the business procuring equipment, but typically work in the warehouse to receive and assess shipments.
Since these users generally perform their tasks in an office environment, our team was able to de-scope the need to build a native mobile app or mobile breakpoints in our responsive design.
In order to have informed and meaningful ideation, we needed a deep understanding of the users’ business process. I compiled all the research conducted with industry experts and users in order to create a process map.
The whole team collaborated to identify critical points in the process where blockchain technology could improve efficiency and accuracy. The engineers planned to write smart contracts in Ethereum that would execute automatically once predetermined conditions are met (e.g. once the invoice is received by the procurement team, automatically reconcile the fields on the invoice and original purchase order).
Once we built our foundation in research, I established the design principles in order to guide our team with direction and purpose. In the face of design decisions, I wanted the team to refer to the principles to ensure we stay aligned with our goals.
The product manager and designers sat down to conceptualize and sketch out what we were going to build. This process helped us shift from needs to product.
Once we got an idea of the type of product we wanted to build, I laid out the user interactions in a user flow diagram. I wanted to ensure that the flows were clear and captured all the required features. Especially in the face of unfamiliar technology, we needed users to trust and be comfortable with our product. This could be achieved through a practical, transparent, and clean design.
The user flows were organized by swimlanes based on user type. The tasks and actions were sectioned by different stages of the web app.
Based on the sketches and user flows, the junior designer began creating wireframes for every screen in the web app. Throughout the process, I provided design oversight and made key design decisions with the product team.
The team chose to reduce blockchain visibility on the interface. We hypothesized that blockchain data could create discomfort or distrust from the users if they were exposed to complex information such as hashes. To preserve transparency and reassurance, we ensured that users would receive visual confirmation for success when transactions are being executed.
To ensure visual consistency, I worked together with the junior designer to create the style guide we would use to create our screens.
visual designs & prototyping.
I collaborated with the junior designer to bring the product to life with visual designs for the web app. I also provided design oversight during the visual design process.
The visual designs were used to create a prototype which we used for internal demos. The fully functioning application was demoed and showcased to leaders at Deloitte Digital to encourage the application of blockchain technology for other business use cases.
The solution addresses the pain points identified because transactions are transparent, documents are automatically reconciled, and payments are executed instantly.
If our team had more time, the next steps we would take include:
Test MVP with office staff to assess acceptance of blockchain technology
Continue elaboration and development for other critical use cases and user types, such as field workers
Key takeaways from this project include:
Effective collaboration between product management, engineering, and design in a rapid prototyping environment
Design leadership, including establishing design principles, guiding the product team, and mentoring a junior