At Tinybots, we needed a system to manage contracts, customer data, and physical devices in the field. Tessa is a robot that is connected to the internet, and its services are tied to a yearly subscription. The robot is owned by an organization or individual but the services are provided by Tinybots as part of the subscription.
I designed an administrative system that keeps track of hardware, customers, and subscriptions. The dashboard shows different subscriptions with start and end date, hardware status, and which customer owns which device. Dashboard users can create new subscriptions, ship specific robots to customers and see which devices are currently online.
One of the challenges with product-service systems, is how to keep track of shipped hardware, subscriptions, customers, and how they are all related to each other. On one hand, you want to keep your shipping process lean and flexible. On the other hand, you want to track which customer receives which specific hardware, how long their subscription runs, and when they have to renew their contract.
High-level flows of the administrative dashboard (details obscured and removed on purpose)
After mapping the different internal processes based on how devices are shipped, an ideal flow was designed. Based on this flow, several low-fidelity wireframes were designed to test and make sure all scenarios were covered. The wireframes were deliberately designed as drafts, to make sure the focus was on the requirements instead of the aesthetics.
Several low fidelity designs of the dashboard to test layout, flow and information hierarchy
One of the key challenges was to how to separate production from shipping to customers. Ideally, you want to keep your inventory independent of your customer orders. Because the devices have a subscription tied to them, it's vital to keep track of which customer receives which hardware.
When a robot is assembled, it receives a unique hardware identifier. With this administrative dashboard, we created a workflow that keeps track of all assembled robots: you can ship any device to any customer without assembling devices for an individual customer.
Devices after assembly: identical, unactivated, and not tied an organization
The system is designed in such a way that newly assembled robots appear as robots without a customer (relation) in the system. The robots can be shipped to any organization once the customer is known (see below).
Robot view: each robot has a unique serial and either already has a customer or can be shipped to a customer
The dashboard keeps track of which robots have been activated. Subscriptions are automatically activated after a set period after shipping, or when a device first connects to the internet.
Shipping a device: you can select a relation, subscription length, and shipping date
The subscription view shows all the different subscriptions, the online status of the robot, contract length and payment details. After a deal has been closed, new invoices appear in the system, and shows which organizations needs new devices to be shipped.
Subscription overview: which organization is tied to which device and subscription
Each organization is tied to an external CRM system to track customer information. The individual subscription is tied to a specific device, and has its own start and end date depending on the day it was shipped (and the first time the robot connects to the internet).
Subscription detail: each robot is tied to an individual subscription
Wang Long Li