To make it easier for Shell’s employees to perform their work, Shell needed to improve the user experience (UX) of its SAP software. With the assistance of the Design & Co-Innovation Center from SAP, Shell simplified its key software transactions in the area of plant maintenance.

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Redesigning the User Experience

Shell is a global energy and petrochemical corporation, headquartered in the Netherlands. It is one of the largest corporations in the world, is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, and has operations in over 90 countries. To ensure these operations run efficiently and effectively, high-performing software and tools are vital. Shell approached us to get support with improving the usability of its software.

We were tasked with redesigning Shell’s key SAP software transactions in the area of plant maintenance to simplify the processes that employees need to execute. The goal was to save users’ time and increase efficiency. For example, maintenance technicians, known as “notification originators” are responsible for recording any issues that occur on off-shore Shell platforms and reporting those issues in the system.

With the existing transaction, the steps needed to record an issue were spread across multiple screens, making the process time consuming. Also, since these were occasional users, not entering issues on a daily basis, they found the process too complex. There was no guidance on where to click to move to the next step and there were many input fields, buttons, and tabs that were not needed in the process.


Simplifying Shell’s Processes

We started by conducting interviews with users, such as the “notification originators”. We asked them to explain each step they needed to perform when creating notifications and to identify what they did and didn’t need on each screen. We also asked them to identify their pain points, which included unused menus, having to jump backwards and forwards between screens, and redundant information.


We produced low fidelity wireframes based on their feedback and consulted with the users to make sure we had understood the process correctly and we hadn’t omitted any key features.


We redesigned the screens in a flexible way by repositioning and removing screen elements to see what would work best based on the users’ feedback. We also looked at ways we could simplify the process for the user, such as using dropdown menus to reduce steps. For example, we redesigned the screen so that users could easily select a location from a dropdown and create a notification for that specific location. We reviewed each iteration of the design with users to ensure we were meeting their needs before producing the final visual designs. Finally, we implemented the redesigned screens with SAP Screen Personas, a tool that enables to optimize user experience of SAP GUI Screens.


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Focusing on Key Activities and Removing Waste


Based on the insights gathered during the research, prototyping, and design phases, we delivered new screens that bring functional elegance to Shell’s user experience. We also ensured that we were aligned with Shell’s visual identity by using the corporate colors, logos, and graphics in our designs. Using SAP Screen Personas, a tool which employs simple drag and drop actions to make SAP GUI screens more usable and visually appealing, we redesigned the screens. The final outcome is a user interface that meets the needs of the customer and focuses on key end-user activities. We removed unnecessary buttons and fields to make it easier for users to identify their tasks and the path they need to follow through the application. By working closely with users, we were able to solve their main pain points, which were too much information on the screen, too many clicks required to get through the process, and a lack of guidance for the user. We simplified the navigation and automated some of the steps by pre-selecting certain options, to save the user time and clicks. The response of Shell has been overwhelmingly positive. The “notification originators” can now go through the process of reporting an issue in the system with fewer clicks and less screens to navigate through.

“At the end of the day we have managed to reduce the number of mouse clicks by 50%. So you’re talking about something like 60 clicks to get through a process, going down to less than 30. So it’s much more efficient, the users are much more productive, and more importantly, they actually love what they see, they are really enjoying working with the system.” – Doug Webster, Global ERP Strategy Manager, Royal Dutch Shell Group

Building on the success of the proof of concept projects completed so far to improve the experience for its users, Shell is engaged with SAP on a number of further projects to bring new life to its applications.

“It is interesting and sometimes dangerous to assume to know how your users are operating. There is no substitute to engaging and talking with them actively. It was enormously beneficial for us to get the help of expert designers who could make this successful for us.” – Lee Mears, Lead IT Solution Architect at Shell.

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