Texas Rural Water Association
A web application to track progression of, create reports, and generate invoices for government assignments.
Role: Interaction Designer / UX Designer
Design Team: Solo
Client: Texas Rural Water Association
Tools: Sketch App, InVision, Flinto
The Texas Rural Water Association (TRWA) provides technical and educational services to water systems across the state of Texas. They receive these assignments from The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the official environmental agency for the state of Texas.
The problem is that TRWA receives more assignments than they can handle. Key deadlines for completion may go by unreported or unseen. Furthermore, in order to fulfill their assignments, TRWA must adhere to a comprehensive list of requirements determined by the TCEQ. I was tasked with designing a web app that unified the TRWA workflow into one easy-to-use system.
Learning the System
After a kickoff meeting with TRWA, I started my research by digging through the TCEQ contract that governs their work. This contract is a 200+ page account of how TRWA must complete, report, and invoice their assignments. I ran a concept mapping workshop to help me visualize TCEQ procedure. It was important I remain informed about the plausibility of all design decisions before beginning the ideation process. As you can see, this exercise took many forms.
Understanding the Staff
I conducted several interview sessions with TRWA staff, the expert users, to understand what TCEQ procedure actually looked like for them in the day to day. My goal was to take the wants, struggles, and expertise of the staff and the strict guidelines of the contract to discover ways the workflow might be streamlined.
A shared assignment timeline that allows staff to track the progression of assignments from beginning to end.
A calendar dashboard interaction that allows staff to see and understand all open assignments at a glance.
Auto-generated reports and invoices.
This design user a more traditional example of a hierarchical structure. User will login and arrive a calendar dashboard landing page. Once there, a top bar allows them to navigate to any of the primary pages of the design.
TRWA assignments have a specific and complicated timeline of events and deadlines that staff must be adhere to as they progress through each assignment. At the moment, these events and deadlines are manually emailed/called-in for each step in the process. What TRWA needed was a centralized location for this timeline. A centralized location that eliminated the need for a long line of emails and kept staff on top of their deadline priorities.
First, I was able to condense the timeline of events from 11 steps down to 7 through my research with the TCEQ contract and with talking to TRWA staff members. I automated responses for certain steps and joined other steps together. (see before and after below) Iteration was the primary means I used to hone in on the eventual interface that ended up in the final timeline. I consulted with TRWA staff every step of the way to validate my progress.
The final assignment timeline is a shared experience between office staff and field staff. Each assignment has one timeline which chronicles its progression from open to close and keeps staff aware of each deadline along the way. It behaves much like a dashboard, but for a single assignment.
Calendar dashboard Interaction
TRWA receives 80-100 assignments from TCEQ per month with signs of growth. A general dashboard for those assignment was one of the first solutions that was needed. Specifically, it needed to provide an at-a glance look at all open assignments and delineate the specific importance of individual assignments.
With iteration, I ended up centering my dashboard design around a calendar, making it the primary tool of interaction. My goal was to keep the status of each assignment in the context of time so TRWA staff could always visualize what their month, week, and day looked like.
Additionally, to lift the weight of 100 potential assignments from the calendar, I integrated a filter interaction into its design. TRWA staff can use this filter to see the calendar through 5 specific metrics. These metrics are important milestones that an assignment goes through. This allows TRWA staff to see explicit facts about the status of their assignments while also viewing them in the context of a month/week/days schedule.
Right now TRWA deliverables, Assignments, Reports and Invoices are completed one after the other. However, these deliverables truly start to take shape as the work in the assignment is completed. Because reports and invoices can be sourced back to the assignment, I facilitated those deliverables to auto-populate as an assignment progresses.
To facilitate auto-generated reports and invoices, I included elements that make up the report and invoice documents in the assignment workflow. (Activity Logs, Travel Logs, Pay Items). These elements start to auto-populate as standardized parameters are met during the assignment.
When the assignment is finally completed, the report and invoice documents are completed as well. This eliminates a huge time commitment for staff all the way around. Additionally, this design makes it easy to create interim invoices in the case that an assignment is not completed before the invoice period ends.
This is my favorite project by far. The space for high impact solutions was extremely high and we were able to steadily find those solutions as the project progressed. The end product marked a complete change to TRWA work from open to close and I really enjoyed being able to architect that change.