A DMS for the solar industry
Current situation and objectives
The growth of the solar energy market is driven by increase in environmental concern and provision of government incentives. The demand for solar cells has gained major traction owing to surge in rooftop installations, followed by increase in applications in the architectural sector. Furthermore, the demand for solar power towers in electricity generation is expected to boost the demand for concentrated solar power systems.
As the market grows, Solarium has more sales agents who communicate directly with customers to raise awareness and achieve sales, the catch here is that the bigger the teams become, the more difficult it is to manage. Also, as companies grow bigger, they tend to lose touch with their customers. Solarium wants to avoid this and has decided to empower the senior agents in the company with more information on their sales teams and customer behavior.They believe this will improve their sales performance and customer retention.
How to motivate agents?
There was a clear need for a transparent system providing data on field agents & their customers and presenting actionable information to help senior agents make informed business decisions.
Recognizing this need, I proposed to create a dashboard within the dealer management system that made it easier for owners and admins to view/create reports, stay up to date on agents and agent performance, and monitor the health of the business.
We looked into the typical hierarchy of sales forces to understand the functions better. This helped me understand how and what information flows through the chain.
- Users want to see KPI’s in a standardized format.
No clear list of comparable metrics captured in a standardized format. Currently data collection is dependent on haphazard questions/answers with each field agent.
- Users would like to collect and maintain data in a systematic and standardized manner
Editable tools are used for handling data. The collected data was managed on an excel sheet causing room for error.
- No Real Time Data
Users would like to spend more time analyzing the data than actually coordinating collection and organizing it. They rely on person to person meetings / emails / calls / messages to collect data.
Each senior agent collects data in the way suitable for him — multiple ways of collecting data within the company. This makes comparison between area/regional performance hard. Senior agents would like each field agent to see his performance real time against targets.
There are 2 types of users here:
- Field Agents — who key in the data
- Senior Agents — who review, analyze and are expected to track performance
In this first part of the project, we focused on the senior agent as the primary user.
I identified the different workflows and tried to map out the possible paths. This generated the general basic workflow for the master agent. Creating an information architecture helps organize content in a discoverable and easily discoverable way. It allows the user to accomplish tasks and goals more efficiently.
Ideation & design proposal
So how should the dashboard feel? It should provide good data points, but should not be intimidating.
When it comes to the dashboard for a DMS design, content is key. The first screen must provide the real important stuff. A bit more research revealed that anything beyond 9 key data sections can make the data seem overwhelming.
Keeping these ideas in mind, I made a few sketches.
Approaching from a black-and-white pictureless perspective allowed me to focus on the layout and completing all the screen states before getting caught up in details.
Prototypes & test
The low fidelity wireframe was put in front of stakeholders and users and was used to test how accurate our designs met the needs of the user. Overall, the users were excited for the possible changes and updates that were to take place because our improvements fixed a lot of the issues our users had experienced.
Some comments after the testing with unbiased users:
“I think someone who doesn’t use any system would go into this! It makes the data easy to see. I think they would want to start their day here.”
“UI is beautiful and modern. That adds value. This is helpful, especially for first time users”
This is the basis of a much more complex product, the dashboard was the first step to achieve greater motivation and find a solution to the problem, the next step will be to develop the product for the second type of users defined