Once a product/tool is finished and deployed to customers, another process starts in which we think of ways to improve the tool, and ask ourselves the following questions:
Perhaps the last question does not come up as often as the others, but we are constantly thinking of ways to improve our existing tools to enhance the user experience.
I would like to show you a handful of updates we have made to our Workforce Management system and get your feedback.
Every major product/tool requires some sort of configuration; some are simple enough that can be stored in a Config file, others a little bit more complex that require a configuration tool. Here is the WFM Configuration tool written in WPF.
Usually this type of tool is geared more toward an Admin user, if you are not an admin user, you will probably look at it as just another tool that "does something", but if you are an Admin user, you will be happy to see how easy it will be to change/add/delete information for your Workforce Management system. Describing each option for the Config tool would be just too much information and will be detailed out in a future article. But I will give you a sneak peak for "Search Fields" option.
I will show you how to modify some strings using the Config Tool. We will make the following changes:
First you will need to launch the Config tool, and then select "Search Fields - Results Grid and Advanced Search". All current custom search fields are loaded on the left hand side. You would then select the SRNumber field, and change its value on the right hand side from SR Number to WR Number, once you are satisfied with your update, you would click on the Save button. Repeat the same process for StreetNumber and StreetNum fields.
Now that the changes have been made and saved to the database we can see the corresponding changes once we reload the main WFM application.
There are many times when we search for particular WFM values (CU, Material, Labor, Equipment codes, etc) find them and either have to rely on the copy/paste functionality if it is available or write it down to use at a later time, well... not anymore.
We thought that was too time consuming and decided to create a button. The new button ("?") was added to places in the application where those type of searches were being performed in hopes to minimize the amount of clicks for the user and speed up the process.
Here is an example of how it works:
A new employee needs to load construction standards (CU’s) for Cat5 Electronic Switch. The employee does not know the code for this specific CU and clicks the "?" button.
A new window is presented where the user can enter a search criteria, in this case "swi".
Rather than remembering the standard code and description, the user can click on the "->" button from the results list, which will send the corresponding information back to the previous form.
The Name and Description fields are automatically populated enabling the user to simply "Load Details" for Cat5 Electronic Switch.
When the user loads details for Cat5 Electronic Switch (continuing the example above), a list of materials, labor and equipment is displayed. To edit any resources it was previously necessary to copy the string, select the Resources link and paste the string into the corresponding category. Again, too many clicks, instead we have now created hyperlinks which will redirect the application to the Resources page and will load the corresponding category.
User clicks on the warehouse # and gets redirected to the following:
Or, the user clicks on the labor type:
...and gets redirected to the following:
Previously if you wanted to unmap a specific resource from all of the mapped CUs you had to edit each CU in the admin page and remove/delete from there, plus there was not an easy way to see which CUs were mapped to the resource.
We have now added a button "Unmap All CS" (Construction Standards) to the resource edit page to allow the user with "one" click to unmap the resource from all mapped CU’s. Also, we added a grid at the bottom of the Resource edit page to show the user all the mapped CUs.
And... a "->" button to the grid so that users can easily navigate to the CU edit screen.
There are many times when users after sending the design to WFM might add a large number of materials to the estimate and send the design back to WFM, but the entire estimate is deleted from WFM causing the user to have to re-add all the material items to the design which is time consuming. We will now allow the user to choose whether to clear the entire design including the WFM added line items or to only clear out the Designer line items.
We will continue to make enhancements or add new functionality to the WFM application each business quarter and will show you the new updates as they become available.