How does a design and technology office manage business assets and personnel without the tools of the outside world? Especially when that office has grown roughly 4x in size over 10 years from when the original process started. Our answer to this was MrT (aka Management Resource Tool), an application for our management team to manage personnel, budgets, inventory, and networks.
The management team (1 Team Chief, 2 Production Managers, and 2 Senior Personnel) handled all business assets and personnel; this includes but is not limited to leave requests, training requests, technology, inventory, and budgeting. Through brainstorming and user interviews, I was able to empathize with the team on their struggles of working without these tools and how it hindered day to day productivity. Below are the my key insights:
Most budgeting is handled in Excel, which only 2 people have access to and understand
No system in place for managing the technology inventory
No system in place for managing personnel outside of notes and documents, held by the team chief and managers
No way of tracking managing network statuses and details
I started by taking these insights, and my own observations, and created an information architecture diagram to organize the data that we will be providing in the app. Below is an example of one of the architectures I created, the personnel architecture.
We used this architecture to define what would end up in the launch version of the application for each section.
Dashboard - This page gives the user a snapshot of any day to day actions they may need to take, such as approving leave requests or checking that the budget is on track.
Personnel - This is where a manager can view and manage their staff–approving leave, career information, office roles, and training history.
Budget and Inventory - This section fueled the most discussion and brainstorming, mainly due to the unique way in which budget and procurement work in our office.
First, I documented the current state of all the processes in place. I then designed a new flow for how MrT will handle process, below is an example with the old budgeting process vs the MrT budgeting process.
Old Budgeting Process
The old process is focused completely on Excel with the entire budget and purchasing process contained in once document owned by one user. This caused numerous pain points and potential user errors such as multiple versions of files.
MrT Budgeting Process
With the new process, I shifted a bulk of the work to MrT itself. The app allows for everyone to contribute to the budgeting process when needed and provides the user with easy to use services for tracking items through delivery.
Something that was the most important for the managers to understand and visualize was the overall budget and the status of each individual item being purchased.
Though we handle and manage our own budget, we do not control the process; we are informed by the Acquisition Team when an item’s purchasing status has changed. With this being the case, MrT connection to the purchasing portal and updates the item status. These is displayed by the Purchase Status column in the table (See below).
MrT brought the team from using spreadsheets and emails to using a streamlined tool for managing all business operations. Check it out for yourself below: