A unified operations planning tool opens the door to more intuitive and flexible task assignment for Granular’s professional growers.

The Brief

Granular powers the world’s most efficient farms. The early-stage startup provides a technology platform for all aspects of farm operations, incorporating analytics and decision support to increase efficiency, yields, and profits. Granular needs a more flexible system to plan, log, and monitor farm operations on a real-time basis.


Design Facilitation

Stakeholder Interviews

Industry Research

Competitor Analysis

Concept Generation

Clickable Prototype

Bringing farms into the modern software world.

The scale and complexity of agriculture has exploded in the past decades. As farms grow, producers aren’t able to run them as they have in the past. Granular offers farmers the types of modern smartphone apps, cloud-based services and collaboration tools that many other industries have come to rely on as the backbone of their operations.

Planning and designing a useful system demanded a heavy dose of research and a stretch of the imagination.

As they've taken their product to market, Granular has discovered that their vision for planning and scheduling operations on the farm is too rigid. Their customers have complained that the system doesn’t accommodate dynamic planting and harvest operations. 

Granular wants to promote behavior change through better operational planning, and needs a more flexible system to plan, log, and monitor farm operations on a real-time basis. Over the course of 3 weeks, my team of four worked closely with Granular to design a dashboard, activity feed and notifications system that promotes more flexible short-term planning of operations. 

A closer understanding.

Planning and designing a useful operations hub for farmers demanded a heavy dose of research and a stretch of the imagination. We were challenged to understand not only the complicated business of agriculture, but also the current state of Granular’s software, how it helps farmers manage their business, and the company’s vision for the future.

The morning the project was due to kick off, the Granular team sent over a Google Drive folder jam-packed with more information than we could imagine making sense of in the three weeks we had for the project. There were dozens of files and documents, each thicker and more detailed than the last. With a range of topics from grain marketing to data analysis, we knew this would be about more than just tending the land.

Sitting down with the Granular team, one thing became apparent early on: we would need a deep understanding of their users in order to create a better experience for them. We spent our first several days working our way through all the content that the team had sent us, and also digging into a little research of our own to better understand the product needs and the problems they were looking to solve.

As a team, we brainstormed everything we wanted to learn through our research.
We were learning a lot, but we were becoming saturated with details at the expense of the big picture. Affinity diagramming helped us zoom back out to a higher level.

Our primary persona was the farm operations manager. He’s overwhelmed with communication during the day, and needs a better way to quickly tell operators what to do when plans change.

 Through our research, we identified three user journeys to guide our design:

As an ops manager, I can monitor the status of farm operations on a real-time basis.

As an ops manager, I get notified when there is an item needing my attention and can easily reschedule any affected activities.

As an ops manager, I can see what tasks are scheduled for the day on each of my fields, and quickly assign operators and machinery to tasks.

Deliver relevant content in real-time.

Ops Managers can get up to 500 calls a day from their guys in the field.

The farming business in the U.S. is changing as smaller farmers sell land and businesses to a small group of large farms.

One of the key benefits of Granular’s software is that it allows producers to create field-by-field work orders, enabling farms to more easily and efficiently manage their operations. Users can input data into field-specific templates, assign those plans to fields and automatically turn the plans into work orders that operators receive via smartphone app.

This makes a great tool for operational planning, but changing conditions make it hard to accurately schedule a full day’s work for each operator.

Ops Managers can get up to 500 calls a day from their guys in the field. Our goal was to alleviate some of the radio chatter by designing a system that delivers current, important information and enables appropriate, timely reactions.

We started by visualizing the agriculture cycle to brainstorm events that could come up during each of the key farming tasks.
We considered who an Ops Manager communicates with on a regular basis, and brainstormed the types of things he might need notifications for.
Ops Managers need to be notified about everything, but not everything is important.
To ensure nothing slips through the cracks and goes unnoticed, our system allows them to give priority to more urgent events by making them alerts.
We explored how alerts and notifications would fit into Granular's existing system.
Enable appropriate, timely reactions.

Ops Managers need more than to just be informed of events – they need to be able to respond to them, and make appropriate changes to the day’s schedule. We boiled down Granular’s robust operations planning tools to their most crucial functions and integrated them into a dynamic operations dashboard.

Choosing what to include in a system is as important as what you choose to leave out. We wanted everything on the page to have value for daily operations, and focused on only including the most essential features.

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