Cubic's key business functions are based on SAP, an enterprise resource planning software(ERP). Employees from different departments have their own specific processes and workflows in SAP which allows them to get their tasks accomplished. Many of these processes and workflows involve repetitive steps with many different screens to traverse.
In comes SAP Personas, a new tool developed by SAP themselves to personalize SAP ERP screens with scripting capabilities to automate different tasks, greatly increasing the usability of SAP ERP screens.
With the help of the Program Director who had knowledge of nearly all of the business processes done in SAP, we indentified those that were most tedious, requiring many screens and fields to enter. Of all the different processes I designed and developed in SAP Personas, the Project Month End Process had one the greatest improvements in usability and time savings.
I started by interviewing and observing the Primary Financial Officers (PFO) that run the Project Month End Process at the end of each month.
I received many complaints about the highly repetitive process that they go through at the end of each month and many were excited about a newer, more simplified version of their process. There were also many feature requests as they wanted a universal hub to do all their work but I wanted to focus on optimizing the core first.
The final product was a dashboard which allowed the users to simply enter the project information once and it would be automatically entered in each screen. Before they would have to manually enter the specific screen code to enter a certain screen. Now all the screens they need are accessible with just a click. After the user is finished with each screen, a button will be there to lead them to the next screen with the information already entered.
The new user interface used rounded corners to text fields for a more inviting look and a new color scheme derived from the Cubic branding guidelines.
I was able to significantly decrease the amount of screens, data fields, and buttons the PFOs had to deal with. The time they took to run the Project Month End Process decreased from around 18 minutes to around 4 minutes. Another by-product of the new process was that it also decreased training time for new hires as well since there was no longer a need to go back to the old process. Overall, Personas was well received by the PFOs and as word spread, I started to get interest from other departments to come up with optimized versions of their processes.
As a result of this experience, I learned that staying close to your users and bringing them in to your design process can be very beneficial and ensures a final product that is well received by the end users.