The first step was observation, in order to understand dispatchers’ pain points. Together with the product manager, we observed the morning and evening shifts at the hubs to understand how orders were currently being organized for drivers. One major complaint was that itemization of orders took a lot of time, and the people dispatching these shifts needed to sift through a long list of customer names with complete order information, from either a desktop computer or printed out sheet of paper. A lot of time was wasted trying to determine if an order was complete or not, and double checking partial orders. (Not to mention, in some cases the dispatcher would be responsible for other simultaneous tasks or would get interrupted with phone calls.) But, dispatchers really only needed to know one basic thing: where to put the order currently in their hand.
With this in mind, I designed the first app prototypes around the movement of the dispatcher. They are on their feet, constantly lifting and moving bags and hangers of clothing. Having to stop and check off a piece of paper or run back to the computer is a distraction that could easily lead to a mixup of order number, driver name, and customer name-or forgetting a bag altogether. I focused on a design that would work well for a person with just one free hand, that wouldn’t require any short term memorization of names or order numbers. The focal function is a scan screen. When the dispatcher scans the barcode for each bag, they receive a message immediately noting which driver is assigned to the order. (If the order is dry cleaned, then they will be shown a list of the bag’s contents, and must confirm that they are there.) It doesn’t matter which bag they start with. When they have scanned everything, they can double check a master list from the main menu for errors. Most importantly, they have a clear overview of the items that belong to their shift, so nothing is missed.
I started designing rough prototypes in InVision to collect feedback early on from the operations and development team, and continued to work side by side with the mobile developer and operations team, visiting the Berlin hub to test prototypes of the app. Though the tool is continually being iterated upon, it has massively streamlined the sorting process across operations within each hub.