Regardless of your industry, running a business involves standards and helping people achieve those standards. The manufacturing industry is arguably the most important when it comes to quality.
Building medical devices, placing millions of transistors on silicon and autonomously driving cars are all examples where quality is absolutely critical and manufacturing is at the center of it.
SequencerPro aims at ensuring quality performance on the factory floor. In the past, people would work tirelessly at creating volumes of work instructions printed on paper and stuffed into binders.
While there may have been some that made good use of those binders, there were definitely many that didn’t. There’s a significant disconnect between how people work and how people consume documentation.
SequencerPro eliminates that problem by providing “active” work instructions. Processes come to life as workers interact with work instructions while simultaneously tracking where they are at each step.
This connects the worker with the work to be performed and helps organizations maintain compliance to standards such as ISO certifications.
SequencerPro is the result of engineering colleagues agreeing upon a vision for a new way of performing manufacturing.
These folks had never built a software application before, but they knew what they wanted. They needed a software provider that could take their vision and build upon it and guide them through the process while they guided Software Prophets on their vision.
For quite a number of years, the software development industry has settled in on ways to interact between application development resources and others. Often, projects like this one would define functionality through user stories, a format of describing:
This is a business description used to capture functionality and justify its existence. Capturing these stories in a meaningful Goldilocks kind of way - not too big and not too small, but just right - can be a challenge.
The engineers that commissioned this project gladly took on the challenge and wrote dozens of stories, while guided by Software Prophets. The result was a well-defined application that could be understood well ahead of it being built.
Combining the user stories with roughly drawn screen mocks of how the users might interact with the application, produced a clear understanding of what was to be built. This lead to solid estimates, a predictable result and a budget that was mostly achieved in the end.
Throughout the process of building, we collaborated remotely. We followed a pattern of progressive elaboration. That pattern in similar to that illustrated in The Path to Accidental Complexity, but we developed designs free of accidental complexity 😎. We took an iterative approach to fleshing out the inherent complexity, but avoided the mistakes illustrated in that article.
We started with the ideas that came from user stories, documented and described various aspects and tweaked page mocks until we achieved a design for which we were happy.
At Software Prophets, we receive regular feedback that our creative solutions improve upon the initial ask from our customers.
In a few words, we beat down accidental complexity.
In this project, we refined the approaches and designs, from how companies were apportioned to their own database, how processes were defined in a drag and drop interaction to how we allowed flexibility in working at a workpiece level or at a batch level.
Our collaboration made great ideas into a great implementation of a great product. Through a robust design process, we reduced complexity and improved upon ideas.
SequencerPro is an application that not only helps the factory floor, but it also helps management know precisely what’s happening.
There are customizable reports and a kiosk display that can be used to present statistics on a “command center” monitor or on a monitor visible by accountable manufacturing teams.
All charts are customizable and many of the really important metrics are automatically created and available for use on any dashboard. All the data can be downloaded directly from the charts and imported into a spreadsheet.
In fact, the entire application is fully customizable to perfectly fit your way of performing manufacturing. With all of that functionality, there can be a bit of a learning curve, but the SequencerPro team continues to scrutinize the user experience and look for opportunities to make it easier to use.
In the end, the SequencerPro team received what they asked for, plus enhancements to that vision that occurred along the way through our process and collaboration.
At this time, they are still in the early stages of sales and marketing, but they are quite well positioned at disrupting the current way manufacturing is performed.
I view the relationship with a developer on a project like this as inherently personal. I care deeply about my project and in searching for a developer I was more interested in finding a person who I wanted to work with than I was in other things that I might have prioritized, e.g. the security of working with a large, stable company.
We looked hard for a developer who could meet our specific project goals. Eric was great to work with personally. He is very reliable, honest, and creatively turned our design requirements into something workable and usable. He is always on time and delivers to the statements of work very precisely.
Eric has been very helpful in keeping the scope of our project limited to appropriate elements, but has always been accommodating when we brought in additional large elements that expanded the scope. He has consistently shown a high level of care for my project, and has been extremely professional, collaborating well with all team members and additional developers.
With a project the size of ours, there is an inevitable growth in the scope, even though we tried to limit it. We value Eric’s ability to evaluate, and help us focus on the important parts of the work. He suggested ways to cut away unimportant aspects and gave us options to do that, and always stuck to the quotes he gave.
Our project remains in motion three years in – we now have a strong online platform that is the basis for our business – and we will definitely continue to partner with Software Prophets as we develop it.