Solving the “unsolvable” problem for the City of San Francisco
I worked at InFlight which is a software agency based in Kitchener–Waterloo, Canada. The company specializes in building applications for unsupported legacy business applications. I was tasked to help the City of San Francisco make its website for eProcurement more discoverable and focused.
Wilson is always keen on trying new tools and technologies in an effort to improve processes and efficiencies and help reduce the gap between design and development.
In 2017, the City of San Francisco chose to use Oracle’s PeopleSoft for its eProcurement program. However, this quickly introduced problems for the city as the Oracle platform had originally been released in 1987. Users complained of extreme difficulty when using the system and that they “didn’t know where to begin”. The City of San Francisco could not switch to an alternative eProcurement portal as the city had already committed funds to supporting the legacy software. Instead, the city wanted to “upgrade” the PeopleSoft program.
I looked at the usability issues of the PeopleSoft eProcurement portal, and most of them stemmed from the lack of focus on biddable contracts and contract details. I focused on those problems and designed the entire application flow for the City of San Francisco. I re-organized the layout of the Contract Details page to reveal and expose important contract details such as attachments and requirement schedules. In the legacy system, it was buried away or mislabeled.
Usability tests showed that virtually all users could not comprehend the legacy system versus the new one. After the launch of the eProcurement portal provided by InFlight, a large drop in demand for training and instructors helped the City of San Francisco save significant costs in teaching users how to bid online. Furthermore, many staff hours have been saved at the City with far fewer erroneous submissions.