Design notes for work contribution interfaces
Network schedule-integrated work interfaces
This set of interfaces uses the network process schedule as a context, where a process will have work inputs as well as inputs of other resource types (materials, equipment, space, etc.) and outputs of other resource types (e.g. products for orders or components for other processes).
The first version of this design has been implemented: network-integrated process logging tutorial
Committing to tasks
When an order is submitted, the system explodes all of the required production processes, material and work requirements, etc., forming the skeleton of a process schedule to fulfill the order.
A task in this context is a required work input for a scheduled process.
However, as described in internal exchanges in a value network, whoever placed the order is not allowed to assign other people to tasks. Each person must make their own work commitments.
So the first interface to design is for people to commit to unassigned tasks.
The interface should show:
- the process that the work will contribute to, with its due date,
- the order that the process will help to fulfill, if any (as an indicator of importance),
- the scheduled outputs,
- the required material and equipment resources, and
- whether they are available now, or
- when they are expected to become available, or
- if they have yet to be purchased.
- Note: All references to available resources assume (1) inventory and (2) logging financial contributions to purchase materials and equipment and (3) inventory receipts.
- Might also want to show the preceding process(es), where components might be coming from, and next process(es), which might want the output(s).
All of that information will be useful to determine when somebody should promise to do the work. (E.g. if the required resources are not ready, it's a little tricky to get the work done...)
The interface should then allow the person to determine when they will commit to doing the work, and optionally how long they think it will take. Their commitment of time may then trigger changes to the process schedule dates.
Logging time contributions
Network-integrated time logging. This will be the beginning of a LabNotes-style time contribution interface.
In the current SENSORICA time contribution form and spreadsheet, people log the results of their time spent in the description column. In a network, somebody will need to log more precisely the other resources used and consumed by the process, as well as the resources created - otherwise, how does the network inventory get updated?
So the time logging interface should also allow for logging other resources used or consumed, and also resources created.
The interface should also show what resource consumption and production have already been logged for this process, since more than one person may be logging contributions to the same process. The system should also guard against duplicate logging of the same resource consumption or production for the same process.
The system could also allow somebody to take responsibility to manage the process, which would include entering the resources consumed and produced. If so, only that person would see those parts of the interface, and the system would not need to guard against dups.
Time spent could be entered by start and stop buttons (which would automatically log the time between) or a direct-entry time spent field.
The interface should also allow free-form text description with links to web pages and eventually embedded images and other media.
Pluses and minuses of network-integrated time logging
+ Somebody will need to log at least three types of contributions for a manufacturing or R&D process:
- What was created
- What was used
- What time was spent
This kind of interface combines all three, so if you need to do all three, or two of three, it is simpler than using separate forms for each type of logging, none of which understand the process context, so the interface can't help you by pre-selecting a bunch of information.
- You might not need to do all that. You might just want to log some time. In that case, this kind of interface is probably too complicated. (But you still might appreciate an interface that pre-selects the process and project you were working on and the type of work you were doing.)