Oracle’s Contracts & Purchasing Reimagined
Redesigned contracts and purchasing solution for the healthcare supply chain customers to manage auctions, award contracts, manage ever-changing pricing and manage exceptions
Note: The confidential information related to this project is either removed or obscured. Moreover, the following information doesn’t reflect Oracle’s views and are solely of my own.
Supply Chain should be considered as “Future of Making” as it is an underlying tool that helps makers get their supplies from point A to point B, build their products, and deliver to their customers in the most efficient way possible. What’s new is how the processes are becoming automated and more intelligent through AI and predictability, smarter and more responsive technologies.
With more than 200,000 customers Oracle’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) solutions are one of the most renowned products in the supply chain industry and hence, are well suited to take it to the next level. Our team not only want to include the new technologies and make it functional. We also want to make it beautiful. Imagine creating experiences that are not only easy to understand but also works of art. We want to change the paradigms and make our customers fall in love with us one interaction at a time. Out of all, healthcare supply chain is the most important and under served with technology which creates a great opportunity for us to create higher impact for the people in need.
I led the design effort of creating north-star vision of Contracts & Purchasing solutions from inception to prototype delivery. I led the research sessions to explore the problem, discover end-to-end user journey, explore solution variations, bring leadership onboard, create the prototype and the final demo.
Discovering the problem
Currently the stock in the hospitals rely on outdated supply chain mechanisms of healthcare systems. Any challenges in their supply chain has a direct impact on the lives of the patients. So we asked ourselves, “How might we reinvent the relationship between the healthcare providers and their supply base”
We primarily focussed our research around two main personas— The buyer who orders supplies, manages price changes and handles backorder exceptions. While secondary customer is Sourcing Manager, who is responsible for managing, negotiating, awarding contracts to the suppliers.
After talking to 13 customers in 3 healthcare organizations and multiple workshop sessions with Subject Matter Experts, we learned that no one in the hospitals have end-to-end visibility of their supplies. Managing contracts and updating prices in those contracts are pretty much a manual process (emails & phone calls). Moreover, there are third party organizations called GPO s — Group Purchasing Organizations who handle contract auctions and price negotiations. They further make the process inefficient.
The current Oracle solutions (screenshots below) are outdated. And these are generalized solution for all industries and are incapable of solving the complex challenges of healthcare industry.
Defining Product Principles
Similar to the process of finding the right problem, I brought together Supply Chain SVP, Subject Matter Experts and other key stakeholders in Solution phase as well. We landed on these 3 Product Principles:
- Transparency of supply chain
- Automate manual processes
- Provide collaborative interface
We also concluded we have an opportunity to reduce the dependency on GPOs by automating price management and contract management process.
Based on the automation framework, I designed the conceptual model to help later decide which automation features to prioritize over the others. In the conceptual model below, the data objects colored in yellow represent the features which will have intelligence (fully or semi automated) while orange represents the touch points where data will be collected to create the intelligence.
Designing final mocks
After exploring multiple sketches, I took the first draft of designs to country’s largest healthcare organizations and validated the concepts. After incorporating the feedback from various organizations through multiple research sessions, I started digging into the details and created detailed conceptual models which acted as the base for the final prototype.
How it works
Based on the user journey, the needs and pain points discovered from the research, we decided to focus on 3 main scenarios (described below).
a) Backorder exception: Backorder is a case when an item is not in the inventory because the supplier is running out of the stock. To solve this problem, I designed an interface to help the Buyer (primary user) automatically suggest the replacement and get approval on the substitute from the clinical manager in a one-click easy to use interface.
b) Price management: To deal with everyday price changes of the inventory which lead to huge challenges in the inventory and reporting discrepancies, the Buyer can now use the Oracle’s automated price management tool I designed where they can view the price discrepancy between Purchase Orders and Invoices. With one swipe, they can approve all price changes and notify the sourcing manager to update the contract prices.
c) Renew expiring contract: As the contract will soon be expiring, the Sourcing Manager gets recommended suppliers based on Supplier Score. The score incorporates their past delivery performances and generate a score out of 100, making it easier for the Sourcing Manager to evaluate which suppliers to add to the bid and eventually approve in a side-by-side comparison based on their bid proposal and the Score.
What I learned
- It takes time to build trust and passion to drive such a huge effort which can have enormous impact. This was quite evident witnessing first hand—the engineering-led company like Oracle to become a design leader.
- Enterprise applications don’t need to be complex, outdated and undesirable. Instead they should be equally, if not more, usable and beautiful as that of consumer apps; because it is the enterprise apps where people spend 8hrs a day to get their work done.
- Designing for automation from scratch made me realize the depths of automation and how it can play a critical roles at creating experiences that can directly affect the lives of the people (especially the patients in the hospitals)
- The demo was presented at the Oracle Open World’19 conference where we got potential partnership opportunities and great customer traction.
- Based on these demos, new product and development teams were set up start building this north star demo starting with Procurement solution.
- With the redesign of this solution from scratch, I helped contribute building the, then work in progress, Redwood design system which won the “Best User Experience” award at San Francisco Design Week.