Solutions for B2B Supply Chain Application
My Role: Research, UX Design, UI Design
Responsible Gold™ Supply Chain application (RG SCA) tracks gold through each stage of the supply chain - from mine to refinery, to vault – to ensure gold is 100% responsibly sourced and conflict-free.
Using an NFC-equipped mobile phone with the RG SCA installed, users scan chips in tamper-proof seals. The scans record the transfers of custody of gold in real-time to the blockchain.
The MVP of the app was built by a third-party company. After its shipping, our design team was required to design new features and improve the user experience and visual appearance.
We did not have access to the end-users,
High-security requirements in the gold industry and, as a result, very limited access to the territory of the gold mines, refineries, and vaults
Location of our users in different countries around the globe
The product manager was the company’s sole representative who was allowed to observe the entire gold production process.
Don’t make me think ©
Our users who are operators of gold processing companies and logistics providers have a lot of paperwork to do every day. Data entry into the RGSC app is an extra responsibility for them. Therefore, we have to build a very simple user experience that should be clear and easy to learn.
Each supply chain partner uses their own terminology. To get familiar with it, I started with learning and understanding the users' language. I put together all the findings and shared them with the UX team.
Visualize end-to-end user experience
As an eyewitness of the gold production run and the voice of users, the product manager gathered raw data to create a detailed contextual inquiry.
Armed with it and the existing mobile app, I went through the entire supply chain and created an experience map. It helped our UX team and engineers gain insight into users' behavior and how they use the app at different stages of the process.
Know your users
The design team planned and ran a workshop together with product and engineering teams where we tried to define the end-users and build empathy with them.
Four criteria were established to build the personas:
The context where the personas use the app
Jobs to be done
My experience of working as a process engineer at a metallurgical plant helped me understand users' pain points.
Although it was a unified application, each supply chain participant performed their specific set of actions. I sketched out the tables to identify those actions to better understand users’ behavior.
It is time to dig deeper into the problems.
Adding Assets to Shipment Unit
While accepting assets in the custody, users should scan over a hundred of cryptoseals. This is a responsible but rather tedious and time-consuming process. Packing gold kilobars into boxes significantly simplifies the acceptance since a user can scan 10-15 cryptoseals depending on the capacity of the box.
For refiners, packing is just a means of comfortable transportation of gold bars to a vault. Boxes are not the inventory items.
On the contrary in blockchain, "packaging" becomes crucial to provide proof of the provenance of responsibly sourced gold. Therefore, the RG SCA has to have a clear and simple process of adding assets to a shipment unit. Ane the whole package should be registered to the blockchain.
Since the product manager talked to users in-person and watched the process from start to finish, I asked him more specific questions I could not find answers to in his contextual inquiry:
What are the specifics of packing gold kilobars into boxes in reality?
Are boxes labeled? If so, what are those labels? Who makes them and how? If not, why?
At the same time, our UX team conducted several brainstorming sessions trying to answer other questions:
How can users be sure that the kilobars packed into a specific box (at the refinery) are exactly the same assets that were added to the shipment unit (in the app)?
How to link a shipment unit with assets added, to a box filled with kilobars before that is registered to the blockchain?
I created a storyboard to visualize the user's steps during the gold refining process. This exercise brought the problem to the surface and, like Archimedes, I could say “Eureka!”
Based on my storyboard, our UX team discussed and developed a task flow of the process. We aimed to answer questions, such as:
Will users be able to achieve their goals by performing this task?
Will they be able to do this with minimal to no friction?
The key phrase to solving the problem is "In sequence"
The final step of gold bar production is stamping the serial number. It is assigned to each gold bar in sequence order.
Afterward, kilobars are packed into boxes in the same sequence order. Once packed, each box is then labeled with the sequence of serial numbers enclosed and closed.
Our solution was that we repeated the packaging and labeling process in the application.
Having gotten those serial numbers, an admin creates assets in the same sequence in the RGSC web Admin tool.
Then an operator executes the following steps in the mobile app:
Creates a shipment unit
Selects assets that should be added to it
The app generates the shipment unit label and the user hit confirm
The user finds a box with the same label and scans a cryptoseal
This application makes it easier for me to accept gold from logistics companies and verify authenticity before vaulting it.
Vincenzo, vault worker
Transfer Flow for Logistics Operators
MVP was built so that a transferring asset/shipment unit flow was the same for all supply chain partners.
There were users for whom some steps in the transfer flow were unnecessary. For example, a local logistics operator should transfer assets to an international logistics operator. They need shorter online transfer flow than other supply chain partners.
For that purpose, I eliminated some steps out of the flow.
I need to pick up the dore from the mine and make sure it gets to the airport. The RG SCA proves in real-time that I have done this.
Jose, Armored Vehicle Driver
While working on the application, I was asked to improve the interface design. I didn’t want to move too far from the existing version. Kept in mind the design should be clear, I updated the color palette and typography to give the interface a fresh look.
Given that our users are located around the world, I personalized the design a little bit.
Android mobile app
Having applied various design methods our UX team studied the problem in-depth and in detail. This approach helped us design simple and intuitive solutions. Validation of our design then occurred in subsequent gold runs, paired with frequent demos and training sessions.