Data Master System

Hub Group: Carrier 

Developing a platform to find criminal activity within 40,000+ company records.

The Challenge

Hub Group was unable to develop new digital products or modernize work practices due to the difficulties of maintaining legacy data systems. The information kept for partner companies—from large warehouse chains to individual truck drivers—was buried in decades-old systems.

My Role

I paired with another designer on parallel projects. We developed a shared design system, and lead each of our projects with autonomy to make quick decisions. My partner worked on a system to Hub brokers find carriers for routes. My client collaborators were a product owner and senior engineer.

Hub Group is a global shipping logistics organization. On the highway, you can’t miss seeing 18-wheelers hauling Hub containers. The people that handle the routing logistics for this activity were using a patchwork of legacy systems. Incredibly talented people were making time-critical deals on the phone while fumbling with software older than they were. Startups with none of this technological debt were threatening Hub Group’s pre-eminence. Accordingly, Hub Group engaged Devbridge to explore solutions helping them out of this situation.

This project was a not-so-simple data master project. Data master systems and their supporting databases are critical assets for companies that do volume business. I worked on a lot of data master systems while I was at Devbridge, and I’m good at managing those projects. For this one, I was blessed with a client comfortable airing its dirty laundry to an outsider. This meant I could get a lot done in a short timeline.

Embedded research was my first activity. I spent time with the primary user group, an overworked compliance department. These users were on-call to help Hub employees get new carriers approved quickly. Some of their work was exciting detective work (finding criminals), but far too much of its was hunting data in old systems. Onboarding new compliance employees involved training them on multiple inconsistent systems. These worst examples were green screen applications; the best were clumsy web apps.

Once I reached a basic level of understanding, I started product design. I studied the primary compliance workflows: approving, rejecting, or reporting a carrier. I grasped the data points within the various systems. I was then able to flesh out a basic wireframe of the application quickly; first in wireframes, soon in styled designs. Much of this was the basic blocking and tackling of design—UX basics and common sense. However, this was only possible due to the up-front research.

Walking through a wireframe with stakeholders through screen sharing.

Generative research was next. After a basic model of an application took form, I switched to a mode of high-frequency testing with users, and making incremental updates based on their feedback. I presented clickable prototypes to the users and stakeholders on video calls, which I recorded for later review. I formatted these sessions to be interactive, prompting users with questions while I walked them through the product. The compliance users were candid with their criticism for specific changes, and became more and more confident the solution proposed would transform their work.

These workstreams concluded with the development of basic code prototypes. Hub Group then absorbed all the work into internal teams. In consulting you can’t see every project to the finish line.
What worked for this project was defining a strong vision of success. I handed off a detailed prototype for an app that, when implemented, will drive change for Hub's core business. I see this not as a blue sky vision, but as an implementable goal they will reach soon.

all work © will capellaro and clients