Meet Customers’ Needs
Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane is one of Italy’s largest and most influential industrial corporations. Around 70,000 employees contribute to the operation of over 8,000 trains per day, resulting in 600 million passengers and 50 million tons of freight transported every year. In doing so, they rely on a railway network that spans over 16,700 kilometers, 1,000 of which are dedicated to high-speed travel.
FS Italiane first crossed paths with the SAP Design & Co-Innovation Center (DCC) through Paolo Baroni (SAP Italy) as it was planning to redesign its logistics portal to meet the needs of both its customers and suppliers. Here, the company was focusing mainly on the challenges involved in improving user acceptance of the FS Italiane portal for logistics services, optimizing the overall user experience, and achieving smoother communications among the portal’s users.
Since the logistics portal serves many different use cases and end users, the overhaul of the underlying software needed to benefit not only FS Italiane, but its suppliers and customers, as well. Alessandro Sposato and Moritz Gekeler from the DCC were asked to assist FS Italiane in the redesign of the outdated, overly complex portal. In order to identify and address its problem areas, starting with an observation of the current working atmosphere on-site was essential. The DCC thus conducted user research and interviews to understand the everyday work of FS Italiane’s employees. This project was also the first opportunity for the DCC to enter the Italian market.
New Logistics Portal to Raise Acceptance
After collecting all the information from an online survey and its on-site end user research in Bari, the DCC formed a team with experts from the SAP partner AlmavivA – one of the leading Italian players operating in the global customer experience sector – and its subsidiary Almawave. In a four-day Design Thinking workshop in Rome, the team created personas (fictional characters representing different user types) and identified current and future business processes. Two DCC designers (Alessandro Sposato and Moritz Gekeler), one program manager (Paolo Baroni), one solution architect (Paolo Tegon), and four colleagues from Almawave attended the participatory design workshop. Both the user research in Bari and the design workshop in Rome were sponsored by FS Italiane. On the first day in the Italian capital, the team had the chance to work together with Vincenzo Lo Curto (Project Manager for IT Logistics, FS Italiane) to understand the customers’ needs in greater detail. They then analyzed processes and created some initial paper prototypes of the portal the following day. In the week thereafter, the interaction designers from the DCC formatted prototype iterations, crafted wireframes based on standard SAP Fiori processes, and personalized the SAP Fiori launchpad and internal applications. Meanwhile, AlmavivA focused on designing other applications. Just after another feedback round, a personalized interface was created and FS Italiane branding applied to the screens. In addition, the definition of a style guide helped the partner AlmavivA develop its apps according to the same visual design. In total, the project required about six weeks to enter the implementation phase. FS Italiane’s new logistics portal has now been online since July 14, 2015.
An Improved User Interface
Before the design workshop, none of the customer participants had ever experienced the Design Thinking approach. The DCC team convinced them by explaining the approach in further detail. “This was a very different approach from what I usually do,” admits Dario Continenza, a Business Analyst at AlmavivA. Vincenzo Lo Curto, Project Manager for IT Logistics, FS Italiane, emphasized the importance of the user experience: “User satisfaction should not be underestimated. We work in IT, which means that we work for others. If those who use our products are not happy, we have not done our work properly.” By introducing the concept of a launchpad (the branded SAP Fiori portal), the interaction designers removed inoperative fields and significantly reduced the number of actions required. The DCC also designed and installed a customized SAP Fiori-like HTML login screen and a custom SAP Fiori app with FS Italiane branding. In addition, the software is now accessible by mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, ensuring more efficient communications between users and the employees at FS Italiane’s offices. With the previous SAP GUI solution, users needed around 16 clicks to complete a task; they now only need seven or eight thanks to a revamped process based on SAP Fiori and the launchpad’s live tiles, which are updated in real time. All in all, the portal’s new design has increased the productivity and acceptance of employees and suppliers, both inside and outside of FS Italiane.
The biggest change is that we were able to carry out a project that not only met our business requirements, but also covered the software’s appearance, which is not so typical of SAP projects. Very often, the main criticism of SAP is that it is poor from the user experience point of view.– Paolo Baroni, SAP Program Manager, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane