Understanding the existing product
In order for AFI to book and manage training courses for multiple clients, they use an internal ERP system to allow them to manage all of this information, set up new courses for clients and book in the trainees, as well as keep track of which courses are active throughout the week.
We kicked off the sprint by sitting down with a few of the AFI team to review the existing platform and understand where their biggest usability gripes were. The system is as vast as it is old, and due to its complexity and lack of proper user experience, even daily users find themselves getting lost in the seemingly endless amount of tabs and modal overlays.
Reviewing the common user problems
Having originally been built in the late 90s, a lot of the existing technology is obsolete which makes it really hard for the team to scale the platform and make improvements. This limitation also means that some features of the product have had to be repurposed to fit the modern needs of the business, resulting in a Frankenstein system that is bloated and confusing to use.
The biggest issues we wanted to fix were:
- Creating a proper journey and step-by-step flow instead of requiring users to window hop just to complete a single task.
- Modernising the design and working out a proper hierarchy for the large amounts of information on various screens.
- Making the product easier to use and opening it up to more members of the team by minimising the learning gap.
Another big area we wanted to explore was digitising more of the process and using software automation to our advantage rather than relying on manually printing documents and capturing repetitive data by hand.
Thinking about a new direction
Having reviewed the product and curated a bunch of notes, we worked out the key areas to focus on first and got to work on mapping out an improved user flow for these sections.
We also began sketching out some new ideas with the AFI team to not only help us visualise how the prototype could look, but also see how we could start combining different thoughts and ideas into one final solution.
By sketching out the solutions as a team, not only did it keep us all aligned on what the expectation of the prototype would be, but it also meant that collectively we were able to capture more ideas in a much shorter time.
Bringing the product into the 21st century
With all of the information gathered from the two days of workshops, we got to work on putting together a fully clickable prototype to help us see whether our initial solutions really did improve the experience and make the platform easier to use.
The areas of the product we focussed on were Adding a new course, Setting up a new customer, Adding a booking, and managing the Course Attendance sheet.
As these were the most frequently used features, we knew that improving them would help us gain the biggest wins in the little time we had, and also set the basis for how we could begin improving all of the other aspects of the product.
Reviewing the prototype
Unlike a typical Design Sprint, we didn't need to test the prototype with any external users as the system was already heavily in use at AFI. With that in mind, our approach was based more around validating whether our solutions did in fact make the product easier to use, and also give the team a sense of how we could begin shaping the entire platform over time.
It was immediately clear that our prototype was a huge step-up from what we currently had. Not only did the updated design and layout make every section easier to digest, but the improved user flow and step-by-step journey helped people complete and keep track of their tasks much more easily than they currently do.
A big win for us was how the intuitive the new prototype was. The AFI team noted that everything just seemed "to make sense", and that it was clear at every stage what was expected from you and what was needed in order to keep progressing through the journey.
Thinking about the next steps
Overall, the sprint to proved be very worthwhile. Not only were we able to turn a massive and complex system into something more digestible, but we were also able to see exactly what was needed to take this product to the next level.
AFI were also very pleased with what was achieved in the five days, and they now have the confidence and understanding to see exactly what needs to be done to effectively improve the system moving forward.