My Role: UX Researcher and UX Designer
Tools: XD, Camera, On-Site visits, One on One Interviews.
CORE's newest venture is CORE Disaster Services. CORE Disaster Services primary source of revenue comes from repairing homes in areas that have been affected by a natural disaster. They accomplish this by working directly with FEMA and HUD.
FEMA and HUD setup funding to help rebuild communities that have been uprooted by a natural disaster. In an agreement with FEMA and HUD, it is CORE Disaster Services responsibility to repair damaged homes in a quick and efficient manner.
For this project, our Disaster Services team is working in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
The Program (FEMA) is often spread so thin, that they rely heavily on subcontractors to document all of the work that has been completed. Because of this, one of the main challenges of working on disaster projects is communication and documentation. For proof of work, subcontractors have to take before, progress, and final photos of all the scopes of work that need to be completed. On average, our employees need to take 300 photos per house. At the time we were only averaging getting 125 at best.
We couldn’t figure out why our employees weren’t taking enough photos. I decided that it was time to do in-field research to get a better understanding of the problem from our user's perspective.
Not enough photos were being taken on a per property basis.
Due to an NDA, and this being an ongoing project, I can not share the final product.
What I discovered
Once I arrived in Puerto Rico, I was quickly able to breakdown the barriers through various conversations and interviews with our workers where the problem was with our current solutions.
One of the major hurdles was cellular reception and terrain. A lot of the places that our contractors were going didn’t have any cellular reception. At that time, our app required a cellular reception to take photos.
Locations of iPads
While doing several site visit, I begin to notice patterns on the location of the iPad on the job site. More often then not, the iPad was found out of sight out of mind for our subcontractors. After engaging in conversations with several subcontractors, it quickly became apparent that the device size was a safety risk to the subcontractors.
While conducting user interviews, I discovered that in order to make sure that photos made it to the correct folder for billing, our subcontractors would carry small marker boards (like the one below). On each marker board, they would write out the property ID number and photo phase, "Precon, Progress or Final." This not only increased the chances of injury but also made it extremely difficult for only one person to take all the photos necessary.
After my field visits, I decided to put together a list of the top things that needed to be redesigned and improved to make sure we would give our users the ability to do their job to the fullest.
1. Redesign the Scope list
2. Create a better organization of various photos and the phases associated with that photo.
3. Introduce a digital change order process.
4. Include digital documents on the mobile app.
Scope List Redesign
The key to the scope redesign being successful would be the ability to organize and streamline various scopes. To do that I came up with these four improvements based on user feedback.
1. Users needed to see more detailed information about all lines of scopes.
2. Users expressed an interest in having a more natural way to see photos for any specific scope and the various phases.
3. Quickly mark a scope.
4. Quickly identify all scopes remaining.
The focus for the redesign of the photos pages was simple.
1. The organization through categorization.
2. Informative, A user would know at any point in time the exact photo he or she was looking at and any other crucial information associated with that photo.
Change orders, the goal was to communicate to office personal, the needs of the subcontractor, and streamline the approval process, between subcontractor and program. Without this, in place, one change order could take anywhere from 3-10 days for approval. With this in place, it would reduce approval time to just under a day.
The need for simplifying Documents/Forms was simple. Remove the use of and need for paperwork. I discovered the use of paper and pen attributed to 20% of all rework. My sole task was to eliminate the use of paper documents, move everything electronic. This, in return, would help streamline many processes from the receiving of documentation to billing. Have any and every document/form electronically would eliminate loss of documents.
In construction, nothing will work the way you think it will. Construction workers only care about one thing-getting the job done. They only want to focus on building or repairing things. To them, technology is not a tool they can use to help with that process. So when working on this project, I focused on making sure that the workers saw technology as a tool in their tool bag and not a device that gets in their way. Construction is difficult to really understand unless you have been on a job site and understand the difficulties that construction workers face daily. It’s literally life or death for most of them. Designing with that in mind made my job harder, but it forced upon me the “KISS” method.