Kenneth Mead
UX Designer and Current Student of Human-Computer Interaction at UC Irvine
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Digitizing Haury's Collision

I worked with a Seattle auto repair shop to help them move from paper to digital.

Digitizing Haury's Collision

I worked with Haury’s Lake City Collision, a high-end Seattle auto repair shop, to develop and implement a project management and communication system as they moved from paper to digital. The system empowered shop technicians to communicate with each other and manage work orders, and the owners got feedback and visual reporting on key metrics.

Project Timeline: Feb. 2015 - Jan. 2016
Team: Carri Munn (senior consultant, Causeit Inc.), Kenny Mead (usability/tech consultant, Causeit Inc.)

The Problem

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Haury's Lake City Collision's high volume of repairs and large shop area made it difficult for shop workers and managers to consistently keep track of work orders. This resulted in work getting missed and feelings of micromanagement, distrust, and frustration between the owners and the staff. The goal was to develop a system that gave the owners visibility on work status, shop technicians the tools to do their own quality assurance, and customers the promise of on-time, high quality work.

Action

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I served as the usability and technical implementation consultant for this project. This meant being responsible for the usability and the adoption of the new system.

My roles: Discovery research | Competitive analysis | Initial requirements | Affinity diagramming | Iterative usability testing | Staff training

 

 

Comparitive Analysis: Exploring Digital Solutions

Many paperless checklist solutions we looked at were overly cumbersome, and made many in the staff feel they were going to be micromanaged.

The owners were interested in increasing accountability through digital checklists. I conducted comprehensive research of digital checklist solutions. Many were cumbersome and didn’t offer enough advantage over the paper checklists Haury’s was already using.

The shop technicians we interviewed disliked the checklists, feeling it was a tool for micromanagement. 
We needed a system that empowered the technicians to better collaborate and manage their work, while giving the owners the reporting and tracking they sought to effectively run their business.

 

Interviewing the staff and creating a flowchart was crucial in visualizing the entire process and surfacing assumptions about the repair process.

User Interviews and Research

We interviewed the owners, administrators and shop technicians to understand how a car moves through the entire repair process. After presenting the initial flowchart to the team, we received valuable feedback and corrections. We updated the flow chart based on feedback. 

 

Choosing Trello as the Platform

After trying and failing with a checklist-system, we realized the root issue of frustration was a lack of a unified project management and communication system at the shop.

We landed on using Trello, as it was built for these two use cases, while offering flexibility to customize it for the shop's use. Additionally, it was a significant savings for Haury's by forgoing the cost of a custom-developed solution requiring maintenance and upkeep. 

We identified a reporting software that communicated with Trello's robust API. This allowed the owners to view week-over-week trends, set goals with the team, and be more confident in estimating work completion promise dates for their customers.

We identified a reporting software that communicated with Trello's robust API. This allowed the owners to view week-over-week trends, set goals with the team, and be more confident in estimating work completion promise dates for their customers.

Its cross-platform compatibility meant the owners and managers could access it from their desktop, while shop techs could view their work orders on their phones.

 

Training

My colleague Carri and I developed training day at Haury's shop where we had two staff members sit with us at a time to learn about using Trello to perform their work tasks. The staff was mentally prepared for the transition, as we had worked with them over the months to customize the system to their work. The week before training we held a call with the entire team to answer any preliminary concerns and questions, so we could better address them during the big training day.

Iterating: Ironing out the kinks

The difference between Trello on iPhones vs Android meant what took staff 3 seconds to do on iPhone took 20+ on Android. We needed to find a solution to ensure the new system's success at Haury's.  Image credit: Trello

The difference between Trello on iPhones vs Android meant what took staff 3 seconds to do on iPhone took 20+ on Android. We needed to find a solution to ensure the new system's success at Haury's.

Image credit: Trello

Reception was overall positive, but there were some quirks to work out. In the first few months of adopting the new system, the owners said they liked the reporting and being able to see the status of any car in the shop at a glance. Staff said they enjoyed the ability to comment directly to other staff through Trello and that it reduced confusion for who had what car and what the next step was.

However, staff with Android phones had frustrations. While using Trello to take photos and view PDF work orders was available for both iPhone and Android devices, the implementation of the app was quite different. Whereas iPhone users did these actions with a single tap, Android users had to go through multiple steps and 3rd party apps to view photos and PDFs.

Solution

We knew fixing the tiny details meant the difference between fully adopting the system and the team rejecting it, so in our follow-up meetings with Haury's, we brainstormed solutions to these issues.

A breakthrough came when we brought to the owners what one of the shop technicians had told us:  "It would be awesome if we could all just have iPads so we could view work orders and not have to slog through using our slow phones."

Comparing Trello's functionality across devices. The owners decided to invest in iPads running Trello for the shop technicians' work stations. No longer needing to rely on their personal phones, morale and productivity went up.

I researched Trello's implementation on various platforms and came back to the owners with recommendations. We proposed they purchase tablets to station around the shop, so nobody would be hindered by their slower phone, and the large screen meant techs could view work orders in their native PDFs. The iPads also had the benefit of the best Trello integration: viewing PDFs and taking pictures was lightning fast and required no third-party apps.

Results

  • Staff satisfaction and feelings of autonomy substantially increased. Employee turnover dropped significantly in 6 month period after the adoption of the new system.
  • Owners are able to know whether their customer promise date is realistic at a glance. Reporting has allowed them to motivate the team with goals that are rooted in the reality of the shop's current status.
  • Contractors and other auto shops were so impressed with the system, they began to ask management about it, and how they could implement it in their shop.

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