UI On the road — Designing experience for fields service workers

Applicat is a developer of Hormiga, a workforce management tool for field industries such as couriers, delivery, logistics and remote technical services. The main challenge that I was facing in this project was around the need to approach 2 different target audiences within a single product and platform: One is field employees (who are all day on the go, performing on-road activities) ; and the other audience consists dispatchers that are operating from logistic centers , where they plan and manage the field operations. In order to support these audiences, the platform has 2 product layers — A mobile app that is designed to serve the fieldworkers and a web app that serves the back office workforce.

Hormiga Mobile App

The daily routine of field workers is built on a ‘Gantt alike’ of activities. The Hormiga mobile app, hence, presents them with their daily task list, supports them with planning their schedule and helps them onboard prioritised tasks.

Also, the workers use the app to report back to the headquarter following the completion of a task (or to report about issues that prevented its completion) . The app is also being used as a real time assistance agent, through alerts that are based on crowd sourced related info that can impact their tasks, or through data gathered by their work colleagues.

For example: The app can help workers understand what is the best parking location near a specific customer, what is the door code, who is the project contact person and so forth. Field technicians also use the the app for tech support issues such as overviewing manuals, guides, inventory management and exploring concrete tips that were generated by other technicians.


Challenge #1 : Information Overload

When I started working, I saw that each task (in the Task list) contained lots of important information — Location, date & time, type, status, value and size (for couriers) or duration and special repairing requirements (for technicians) and more. The way the information was presentation was overwhelming. decided to split the task list into 3 separate views — List view, Map view and Timeline view. It helped the data to be logically better organised and each view was more focused. I decided that status indications should be colors coded.

Here you can explore the sketches I made and the final (UX) result:

Tasks — List view
Tasks — Timeline view
Worker’s personal dashboard
Tasks — Map view

Challenge #2: Increase Engagement

Thinking about the best ways to engage our users led us to come up with a new concept, the workday player — That’s basically a bottom strip that automatically displays the current or upcoming task, and includes a relevant call to action button (starting or ending a task), and includes additional information about the worker’s status

Snapshot of the ‘Workday Player’ before, during and after task
Expand view of the ‘Workday Player’ during an ongoing task

Challenge #3: Interacting with locations

Since the app is location based, and the work day is organised by location, the interaction with the map is critical for various use cases.

GPS navigating from task to task
Searching for the perfect parking

Hormiga web app

Back office managers and team leaders need high visibility of what’s going in the field in order to track and improv activity performance. The web app was designed to provide real-time tasks status data and alerts, and to support the team with problem solving as part of their daily routine. The app also includes predictive analytics (based on behavior pattern recognition), that helps managers increase efficiency by optimizing future decisions.

Challenge #4: Data visualisation

Quick and clear picture can dramatically help managers get the right decisions in real time. Showing vast amount of data that can be easily digest requires smart use of hierarchy, color code, typography, layout and the balance between all. This process is done closely with the product team so quick solutions can be found on the spot. For example: removing data when too much of it can damage more than be useful.

An employee daily dashboard — performance view
..and his realtime view
Resolving conflicts on the spot
Simplifying data with colors and typography

Challenge #5: Planning and scheduling for big teams

Hormiga provide a realtime tool for dispatchers to assign tasks to workers by an easy drag and drop interface. With the ability to respond quickly to sudden changes, dispatchers identify immediately the person with the right skills who is available and predicted to arrive fastest at the required destination.

The dispatch tool