© 2019 by Satish Kumar Perumal. Proudly created with Wix.com

Logistics Settlement

This is SAP's Logistics solution which deals with money for a shipment. After a carrier starts the transportation of goods from a shipper, a settlement process is initiated. It involves calculation of rates for the services performed by the carrier against the against the services agreed by both the parties.

This is SAP's Logistics solution which deals with money for a shipment. After a carrier starts the transportation of goods from a shipper, a settlement process is initiated. It involves calculation of rates for the services performed by the carrier against the against the services agreed by both the parties.

The Freight Order

Imagine Muller Gmbh (Shipper) selects Movers Inc (Carrier) through a tendering process for transporting cargo, an agreement has to be made. This agreement is called a Freight Order. The freight order contains information about where the cargo is heading, what are the contents of the cargo, what are the rates involved and required documents for transportation along with notes on how to handle specific cargo.

An invoice is created from this freight order after the transportation has started. This document focuses mainly on the charges involved and its calculations.

INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

The application is a redesign of an existing SAP solution so the information architecture was basically derived from the older app. 

THE PERSONA

THE ORIGINAL APPLICATION

The existing application for managing the rates and its calculations were quite overwhelming to look at. The hierarchy was confusing, the fields were out of order and most of all, the number of columns representing the rates were just too much to consume. Each charge had 27 columns (at its maximum) to represent its rates. 

Each charge had 27 columns to represent its rates

This is a perfect scenario for redesigning and the result was much better than we expected.

Just one reason: the customers loved it!

The simplified charge table

Charge details only on demand

The details for every charge was neatly categorised and tucked into a side column which is viewed only on demand. Why? 

Editing charges

Charges were conventionally edited using an Excel sheet. They are always editable, keyboard friendly and multiple math operations are possible. On an average a settlement clerk fills up 300-400 invoices a day. Reverse engineer, he/she has just minutes to work on an invoice which is much faster with a keyboard. Which is why they have been using Excel.

We wanted to give the user, the essentials of excel in an intuitive UI.

DESIGN ELEMENTS

When the user is ready to edit the rates for the charges, the cursor is made to point the first editable rate field on the UI. 

The cycle of edit is made to mimic the excel with the fields getting the focus so he edits the rate fields in a single flow.

The charges are divided into groups and over each group there will be an aggregation amount on how much the charges for a specific group add up to. This was also one of the top features which customers loved.

Essential but non-frequent actions were tucked into each row.

The grouped side panel also served as a good reference in certain cases such as "Calculation Rules" (which is a rate calculator for non-straightforward calculations)

An excluded charge was faded out in the UI which was intuitive enough rather than a strike or showing it with highlights.

Apart from the charges interface, we rethought the way cargos were represented. The original solution connected cargo information from multiple pages in the same freight order. We noticed an obvious hierarchy with the flow for which the architecture was changed in the backend and in the front-end we used a single drill-down table. 

Customers got the hold of it at first shot and the feedback was "All this while it was right in front of our face".

The document flow was one more modification which visualised the entire journey of a freight order. This was sort of the icing on a cake. The customer validations were a huge success and the application is now being used by multiple cloud customers of SAP.