Alcumus are a provider of risk management solutions and company / contractor verification.

I was brought into Alcumus along with a small team of other contractors to deliver an MVP of a new product offering, SafeSupplier. We were not just tasked with that delivery, but also to show the company a new way of working, one based on agile, iterative principles, driven by user needs.

SafeSupplier had something of a difficult journey to going live. The project had been going for nearly 2 years in various forms, and had become bogged down in an internal, overly complex process. Once I got involved, I conducted a full design review, not just of the product as it was, but of the process that had led to it.

I immediately pushed for user research and testing, quickly identifying flaws and challenges in not just the at the time proposed solution, but in the underlying proposition. Talking with users or iterative releases were new concepts for the business, so in order to win support, the contractor team delivered a functional prototype based on my and the technical team’s reviews over the course of 3 weeks as a showcase. I created a simple, flexible UI kit to support this, ensuring compliance with accessibility standards and compatibility across browsers and devices, both key flaws in their previous approach.

Proposed design prior to my joining the project

I also carried out a number of user interviews. The product is, simply put, a question set that allows Alcumus to ‘verify’ a supplier as a trustworthy business, but at this stage the question set had not been presented to any representative users. I was able to flag and change a number of questions that would otherwise have disrupted the user experience via these interviews, and the existence of real, primary information to work with began to have a noticeable effect on stakeholders and the value they placed on design and research. Meanwhile user testing sessions backed up concerns about the original approach.

In the end I ended up teaching others within the business the basics of carrying out interviews and testing. I also had to build up a relationship between design and development were previously there had been none, and to assist Product Owners in translating design and requirements into user stories. In many ways this project was more about building a solid understanding of design within the business, and creating structures for future designers in the company to benefit from and work within, than it was about designing the product itself.

SafeSupplier could be thought of as three distinct apps, the question set that suppliers used to build their profile, the system internal staff used to verify those profiles and the portal client users searched for new suppliers and managed their existing supply chains through. For the question set, I stripped out all the unnecessary complexity of the previous approach, creating a simple template and set of components that could be built and reused quickly.

The internal system was split between CMS and a view of the question set. Ultimately the goal will be to largely automate this process, but for the MVP it was decided to go with something manual, so in order to maximise efficiency and save on development time, I based this heavily on the profile view from the client portal, while also taking feedback from the team who would be working with it internally.

From the client perspective, they would be able to view their existing suppliers journey from being onboarded to the service, through to being verified, or be able to search through all verified suppliers within the platform in order to engage in new business relationships. As mentioned, they could view profiles of each supplier, which were heavily related to the internal view.

Alcumus embarked on what it termed a ‘Beta’ release, where we worked closely with a number of initial clients and their supply chains, who would use the relevant parts of the product, then fed back in order to help shape future iterations. This more user driven, research based approach was entirely new to Alcumus, having previously been very development led, and internally focused in terms of creating requirements for their products.

In the end the team was able to complete the MVP in just over 4 months. A great achievement given the history of the project combined with having to essentially build new structures and ways of working within the business at the same time.




Q2 - Q4 '21

Fancy a chat?

Any questions, or just fancy saying hello? These links will aid you in your quest...