Buijse manufactures fire-resistant storage containers. In 2012, I built a web application to improve the order-handling process.
In 2012, Buijse hired me to assist in improving how they handled orders. The orders themselves were relatively standard, but the order-handling process was mostly manual. Technical drawings were done manually, there was no inventory management system, and all supporting documents – such as order confirmations, bills for materials and purchasing invoices – had to be reproduced for every order.
We started by analyzing and modelling the existing process. I used several methods to make an accurate analysis. Firstly I started with some ethnographic methods, like observing an employee handling an order from A to Z and visiting the production floor to see how factory workers used information provided by the office workers. Next, I roughly modelled the current business process and started conducting interviews with the staff to validate and improve the analysis.
After modelling the existing process, I suggested some improvements, and in the end this resulted in the definition of an improved business process.
The automation of several tasks constituted an important part of the renewed business process, so I subsequently started defining requirements for a software solution. After validating the requirements with the stakeholders, I created some wireframes which provided a starting point for the desired application.
We decided that a web application would be the most practical solution as workers from changing locations with changing devices would require access. The initial release contained the minimum required functionality to process an order. Bit by bit I added more functionality, and the amount of manual work rapidly decreased.
Currently, the application provides an order confirmation, technical drawings, purchase orders, bills for materials, checklists, workflow management, inventory management and price calculations. The improved business process enables the company to significantly reduce human errors and saves 600 man-hours each year.
Besides coding in PHP, I improved my skills in interviewing and requirement analysis in this project.
Tools and languages used: PHP, CodeIgniter, MySQL, HTML, CSS, jQuery, requirement analysis.