i2 designs product extensions that support manufacturing scheduling process.

i2 is a leading supply chain optimization company. Among the many applications i2 provides are those that support manufacturing production scheduling, materials delivery, and collaboration with customers and suppliers. i2 needed to move its complex, interactive core technology to a web environment, while at the same time improving the functionality and user interface. They decided to start with their i2 Sequencer™ product.

Challenge

  • How could the i2 Sequencer scheduling product be translated to a web version?
  • How does scheduling fit within the overall business process?
  • How can i2 better support scheduling and schedule adjustment within manufacturing assembly environments?

“We selected InContext because of their strong track record, depth of expertise in decision systems and browser-based applications. InContext’s methodology enabled i2 to participate in the design process to ensure that customer research could be leveraged throughout the organization.”

Joyce Vigneau, Software Interaction Designer

Delivering Results

After analyzing the customer data, i2′s technology, and the company’s business goals, the team developed a solution and tested it with users through paper prototype interviews. The new i2 Sequencer design:

  • Connected manufacturing scheduling to daily business planning
  • Allowed continuous tuning of scheduling rules
  • Balanced automation with user control and feedback
  • Connected the data and systems that will drive the schedule
  • Drove information out of the schedule to run the business

InContext delivered a design that let i2 prioritize design components by rolling them out over several product cycles. The fully documented design was easy to transfer to development, and the customer data was delivered in a way that it could be shared across the organization.

“Bringing their expertise and fresh perspective to bear on our design problem, the InContext team was able to draw insights and develop design responses that our internal team might not have seen. By considering the big picture as well as the details, InContext arrived at an encompassing and coherent vision for the product.

“In addition, we subsequently saw similar findings coming out of Contextual Design work on other products, enabling us to extend and build upon the data from our initial engagement,” Joyce concluded.

The Process

i2-2.jpgInContext worked closely with i2 to understand their business goals, underlying architecture, and technical issues.”InContext’s people quickly grasped the technical, architectural, and interaction issues involved,” said Joyce “This design effort was extremely important because we intend to apply the results from the initial product to other related products.”

With participation by an i2 team member, field interviews were conducted with i2 Sequencer users. Observing customers working with the product revealed breakdowns in the application and the manufacturing production scheduling process. For example, we saw that users were spending a great deal of time manipulating scheduling rules in the application—often in response to fluctuating business conditions—and that this was an unclear and difficult process. Once a schedule was built, users had no easy way to pass schedules off for review and approval.