Having completed the core functionality of Decaf, an important last step for the project was to test how it works in a real small business environment. This process provided valuable feedback that I can use to improve the system for my portfolio (and future projects).
I was able to conduct a week long test with the help of two businesses. The first business was the café that I introduced earlier in the term, and the second a medium sized retail store. I duplicated the prototype for each, and asked a scheduler complete a few tasks to test Decaf.
- Create employees in the system, and assign them a role
- Ask the employees to set their availability
- Add shifts for a week (in addition to your existing scheduling system or paper)
- Have the employees punch in and out (in addition to existing timesheet)
- At the end of the week visit the Payroll page and check vs regular timesheet
I encouraged managers to make as many changes to the schedule as needed during the week, and asked them to record any thoughts they had while using the system in a journal (as not to be intrusive). Please write down any thoughts, the more the better. I also approached a few employees and asked them to do the same.
Findings & Feedback
I received a massive amount of feedback from the journals, and when I checked in on how the test was going for each business. Here are a few of the comments I recieved:
- When adding a users last name was told it was too short got stuck
- Increase the spacing between main page links (very close)
- When adding times confused the placeholder with an actual value (make lighter?)
- Swap shifts have to hold the option key–maybe click swap then click two shifts
- Overnight shifts cannot be scheduled (10pm – 6am)
- Like the availability form textual input, makes more sense than weird table
- Writing is light and kind of hard to read in some places
- Availability chart would be helpful on the schedule page, in addition to the dropdown
- More options on scheduler page (goal hours, employee capabilities, colour coding)
- Edit and add window alright, easy to understand and quick
Most of these are interface tweaks or surface changes using existing data. In my end of test discussion with the café I pushed a bit farther to question wether an online scheduling system was an improvement, and if the core workflow worked for each.
At the café, the two schedulers expressed excitment about the system. “We can work together on the schedule, and don’t have to be at work to make changes.” They liked how they could add a shift and be told automatically who was available (instead of remembering or referencing the availability matrix / chart). Because only some employees are allowed to open and close the business (key holders), they wished that Decaf could account for different abilities. They were also interested in creating ‘templates’ for slow, medium or busy days that had shift times pre-entered.
The employees I connected with liked that schedules were available online, and found entering their availability was simple (if not a bit tedious). There were no reported problems with the punch system, except for an employee that forgot their password during the week.
I have already taken some time to pair through feedback to find the most valuable. Going forward (into portfolio polishing mode), addressing nearly all the feedback outlined in this post will be a priority. Some patterns can already be seen (light text, placeholder confusion) and interface tweaks like these should be simple to remedy. Polishing other small things like animation / CSS and the display of main navigation links will also take place over the next few weeks.
Beyond these I think the next most important steps will be an availability viewer and capability feature, in addition to those features outlined in the wishful thinking post. The availability viewer would allow managers to see a chart of employee availability, if they choose, perhaps in a second window. The capability feature would ensure that they can schedule employees who are trained or certified to conduct certain job functions. These features were requested by both businesses in their journals.