Warehouse Optimization

At RenoRun, fast delivery is the promise.

“How to transform a G-Sheet-managed startup into a state-of-the-art delivery company ?” is the challenge.

The Design process, is the answer.

In most case I like to start with the Double Diamond Design Process because it’s easy to grasp and it’s flexible. A process is a guideline, but in real life the business context and roadmap doesn’t always allowed to go rigorously through complex processes, but the Double Diamond has 3 key moments and 4 big phases, so 7 steps you can adapt to any situation:

  1. Problem – This is the general definition of what we think we want to fix
  2. Discover – This is the research phase that allow to dig out the nuggets
  3. Explore/Define – This is were you decide, based on the nuggets, what to tacle
  4. Problem Definition – This is an alignement moment and time for re-scoping
  5. Develop/Test – This is where you get the idea real and put it to the test
  6. Deliver/Listen – This is where you work with the engineers to make it a product
  7. Solution – Well this is where you celebrate and start on another iteration

Let’s go over these three phases with example I used at RenoRun.

1. Problem

“We want to track shipments while maintaining relation to the original order”

2. Discover

Not understand what you’re doing is setting yourself up to fail.

Working with PM and stakeholder, I need to understand the problem, align on the scope, the metrics (KPI) we want to influence and desired outcome or End-State Goal (ESG).

For this product, the PM had already made a wireframe of what she thought would be the best user interface. I am not a subject-matter expert, so I just used the wireframe in the initial interview to capture what the user thought of the proposal and also to discover if they had a vision of a tool to help them accomplish their task.

Besides data analysis, I like to talk with end-users, subject-matter experts and stakeholders.

I usually go for a semi-structured interview with 3-5 key users and in half-a-day I have a pretty good idea of what’s at stake and what are the low-hanging fruits.

To speed things up, I like them to show me the tool(s) they currently using or previously used or even a simple wireframe to discuss their flow, what they like and dislike.

I usually end-up with a ton of insights that I can make rapidly available and actionable using artifacts such as user quotes, maps, flow diagrams and sketches.

3. Explore/Decide

Nothing is more fun than group ideation, but without a structure and a seasoned facilitator, fun can easily become chaos.

Over the years I carefully selected and tweaked design activities that make everyone feel at ease and multiplies creativity by hacking people’s brain… a Design Studio.

The group must be people who already know about the problem such as PM, SME, engineers… The setup can be in-person or remote using Miro, Mural or FigJam.

“Remember for collective intelligence to work, it is important that we see people’s face.”

First, I like to share the findings with the group using storytelling and build empathy with quotes, photos, and screenshots so participants feel in the user’s shoes and understand the context.

Second, I want everyone to share their first ideas, and the perfect activity for this is the Crazy 8s. On a timer, people have to draw eight ideas in eight minutes – That’s fast. The important here is when people present their designs, people take notes on stickies (what special, efficient, engaging…).

Third, it is time to steal! Now every participants gets 10 minutes to design and sketch a more detailed solution that can incorporate the best features they just heard about.

4. Problem Definition

“We need a shipment planning app, that connects to mother app (fulfilment brain) and children apps (picking app, QA app, loading dashboard)”

5. Develop/Test

The result of the Design Studio isn’t perfect so the best is to consult with the PM and/or stakeholders and decide what solution we want to test with end-users.

Time is spent to design a high-fidelity wireframe or prototype to see how it would actually look and integrate within the ecosystem of softwares already in place.

If the solution is obvious we build a full prototype and conduct a Task-based user test. This allow to see how intuitive the UI is for user to do their jobs, but also fine-tuned the labels and icons.

If solution is still ambiguous we can use A/B testing. And because 1+1=3, this can be really powerful to generate a convergent, tailored solution by the users, for the users.

6. Deliver

When is the right moment to present the design?

On top of sprint kick-off we added a Storytelling ceremony were the PM and PD present to the engineering team the semi-approved designs, epics and stories for the coming sprint. During those presentation, engineer would question and challenge the proposed solutions and designs. Of course the user research made sure we weren’t completely in the left field, but there’s always room to improve or use a technology that would be more suitable. here would still be one or two week to update.

How do you best handoff design to the engineers?

Today with remote team we have a few ways of handing off the design to the engineering team. A link to the Figma file and prototype in the epic and stories is essential and sometimes embedded in a Confluence page.

After a few releases and design updates, sometimes for the engineers to know what has changed, there’s nothing like a recording of a walkthrough demo.

7. Solution

The solution is a tested design that can start being developed as a MVP.

Remember that design is normally 1 to 3 sprint ahead of development, so use this head start to test, validate, and ask for feedback, because you can still iterate and improve until – and even after – the release.

* Designs are protected by confidentiality agreement and property of RenoRun

* an Ecosystem of applications is an ensemble of applications used by different people, in different context, on different devices displaying the same data for different needs to accomplish a common goal.

I used these methods to the Ecosystem at RenoRun and successfully design:

  • a desktop/TV dashboard to track all orders for the day and dispatch assignments
  • a Loading Dashboard to track every shipments in every orders and assemble them for delivery.
  • a mobile Picking app to move away from paper and optimize picking in zones and waves.