Designed and shipped a proof-of-concept web app at Deloitte Digital.

Reimagining supply chain management

2018, RESEARCH / UX DESIGN / VISUAL DESIGN / PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

2018, RESEARCH / UX DESIGN / VISUAL DESIGN / PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

Jupiter

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 design lead. We used a rapid prototyping approach in order to ship a minimal viable product for faster release into the market.

jupiter-mockup

Problem Space

Current practices in the oil and gas industry for securing equipment and services for field work are inefficient and inaccurate. This procedures in the supply chain management industry are archaic, manual, and obscure. For instance, purchase orders are still manually entered into legacy systems and distributed as physical copies that are easily lost or damaged.

jupiter-research

We met with several industry experts and users to discuss their pain points in further depth. The problems stem from 3 key factors:

  1. Asset tracking: There's usually 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.
  2. Document reconciliation: Many parties are involved in the supply chain management process (e.g. procurement, freight, site owner, inspector, contractors, vendors, inventory, etc.). Many contracts are created for one transaction. These paper contracts are currently manually reconciled, which is time-consuming and prone to error.
  3. Payment processing: Payments typically take up to 3 months to process. This is partly impacted by industry norms and business constraints. Since these are high-value transactions, this delay can impact business’ cash flows and overall financial health.
jupiter-diagram

The Objectives

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.

Procurement

“I buy oil & gas equipment for my business.”

Why Blockchain?

The inherent properties of blockchain carved an opportunity to address our needs. In simple terms, transactional data can be pushed to the blockchain, which is accessible by anyone. Data is immutable, which means that users cannot manipulate the asset location or value during a 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 for automatic execution of desired actions. Here is a summary of the benefits that are applicable to our use case:

  • 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 a specific 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. 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.

jupiter-icon-box

Procurement

“I buy oil & gas equipment for my business.”

Procurement

“I buy oil & gas equipment for my business.”

jupiter-icon-truck

Vendor

“I supply oil & gas equipment to businesses.”

jupiter-icon-magnifier

Inventory

“I assess oil & gas equipment shipments received by the business.”

Process Mapping

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 where blockchain technology could improve current processes. The engineers planned to write smart contracts in Ethereum, which 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).

jupiter-processflows

Design Principles

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.

jupiter-designprinciples

Sketching

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.

jupiter-sketching

User Flows

Once we got an idea of the product we wanted to build, I identified all 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 transparent and pragmatic 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.

jupiter-userflows

Wireframing

Based on the sketches and user flows, the junior designer began creating low-fidelity 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 make the users feel discomfort or distrust if they were exposed to complex information (e.g. hashes). To preserve transparency and reassurance, we ensured there was ample user feedback and help documentation (e.g. confirmation modals to indicate success when transactions are executed).

jupiter-wireframes

Style Guide

To ensure visual consistency, I worked together with the junior designer to create the style guide we would use to create our screens.

jupiter-styleguide

Visual Designs & Prototyping

I collaborated with the junior designer to bring the product to life. 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 developed web 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 now transparent, documents are automatically reconciled, and payments are executed instantly.

jupiter-clay

Onboarding

Users are educated on the power of blockchain on their existing supply chain management processes. They are asked to select their user type and provide basic user information.

Onboarding

Users are educated on the power of blockchain on their existing supply chain management processes. They are asked to select their user type and provide basic user information.

Sign In

Users are given the convenience of authenticating through the uPort app. First-time users can click "What's uPort?" to obtain instructions for setup.

Procurement

Users are able to see all pending and processed purchase orders, as well as the inventory assessment statuses, received invoices, and past transactions. Creating a new purchase order requires minimal manual entry.

Vendor & Inventory

Users handling shipments and inventory assessments see different interfaces than procurement. We standardized and automated the processes for sending invoices and signing off on shipments where possible.

Next Steps & Lessons Learned

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:

  1. Effective collaboration between product management, engineering, and design in a rapid prototyping environment
  2. Design leadership, including establishing design principles, guiding the product team, making important decisions, and mentoring a junior

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