Summary: An SoW should be considered as a great place to start the conversation. Too often the SoW is taken as 'written in stone'. The importance of validating a project with users and SMEs before writing a line of code can save hours of development time and more importantly millions of dollars by making sure you are building the RIGHT application.
Jabil Innovation Lab was looking to provide more insight and transparency to its supply chain partner operations, in particular, the distributed manufacturing sector. Across the globe, Jabil helps to manage and structure manufacturing processes for numerous industries.
Jabil provided us with a 45page SoW put together by the project stakeholder through numerous line managers and other key stakeholders. The goal was to deliver a single dashboard with over 35 data points that could serve as a ‘foundation’ across Jabil’s global manufacturing facilities.
It was clear early on, that the original SoW was only going to result in some very unhappy principles.
Any dashboard, in order to be even mildly useful, has to provide it’s intended audience with some sort of actionable data. In order to do this, we also need to understand the environment the dashboard is intended to be displayed along with any environmental constraints.
Our solution was to instead deliver 3 unique dashboards that could serve the key roles located across the various manufacturing facilities.
The following key items were only discovered through discovery and research and were not mentioned anywhere in the 30-Page SoW.
The end-users would not have access to any input devices.
The end-users would not be able to stop the assembly line.
The dashboards would be displayed on old tv screens only capable of 1024x768 resolution.
The end-users could be up to 10 -15 ft away from the display.
During our discovery phase, I began with interviews of the Projects key stakeholder and author of the SoW. After those initial interviews, I conducted a series of short interviews with some of the other contributors to the SoW to identify and clarify their intended ‘objectives’ and how they were going to define the ‘success’ of the project. It was during these interviews that I also was able to get clarity on the environment these primary dashboards were going to be displayed.
I followed up on these interviews with a number of ‘Remote-Live Design Sessions”. During these sessions, I would work with my Project Manager as a facilitator, while I shared my screen with a handful of participants. We would then collectively design each dashboard according to the requirements necessary at that particular plant. This was repeated for a handful of other facilities until it was believed we had a significant sample size to determine a solid median of data.
I synthesized the results of these ‘Remote-live sessions’ and developed a collection of 3 aggregate dashboard wireframes for the key roles that had been identified. These dashboards each then went through two rounds of moderated cognitive walkthrough and usability sessions that I lead.
Consistent with our interviews and contextual inquiries, we decided to focus on developing individual dashboards for three key ‘roles’ within the manufacturing process.
From our interviews, we learned that the dashboards we would come to call the “Yield” and “Defects” dashboards would be displayed on television sets over the assembly lines. The primary users of these dashboards would have no input devices accessible and they would be limited by the overall speed of the line.
As mentioned in the key takeaways, our interviews had identified three key user groups that would eventually be using these dashboards.
Below are samples of the Proto-Personas developed for this project. I have written an article published on Medium, Better Personas: One Simple Change to Help Mitigate Bias to explain why I believe Proto-Personas are significantly more helpful.
Yield Dashboard Wireframe
The first dashboard we identified was the Yield Dashboard. Each line was given a target yield and needed to be kept up with where their line was in hitting that target for the shift. In an effort to foster some good-natured competition, we also displayed the other concurrently running lines and their Yield status.
The second dashboard we identified was the Defects Dashboard. It was important for these shifts to track total units inspected during the shift while also displaying the assembly goal, and the actual units inspected. There is a real-time table of found defects along the bottom that routinely refreshed to keep the line workers appraised of any defects from their units.
Defects Dashboard Wireframe
Production Dashboard Wireframe – Tablet Application
Lastly, we were able to identify the Production Dashboard for line managers. This dashboard would actually be displayed on a single-use tablet that would allow line managers to monitor either Yield or Defect lines and be alerted when they were not meeting shift/line expectations.
These wireframes were developed in collaboration with the JABIL internal team. The team took these wireframes and completed the developement.
Our final design for the Jabil manufacturing dashboards resulted in the following screens to be used as templates across Jabil’s global manufacturing facilities.
Each of these dashboards would be getting displayed on 32″ screens mounted near key positions on each assembly line.
There are a number of things I could go into about this project.
But, none of that matters.
At the end of the day, I am happy with the results we achieved. More importantly, our client was happy. As is often the nature in Enterprise UX, in particular from the consulting side, there is rarely any ‘follow-up’ with the actual users. In this case, we did hear back a few months after the project began rolling out across all of Jabil’s manufacturing facilities and the responses were overwhelmingly positive, especially from the line workers who now knew how well they were performing.
That’s what matters, to me anyway. Yes, I’m sure that Jabil’s numbers positively moved and I’m sure production increased globally. Those are all great for Jabil and I am glad I could do my part, but I get more satisfaction of knowing those line workers, or line supervisors might have just a little bit better day thanks to a few dashboards I designed.