This is a rough draft of a Microsoft Access form contained in an irrigation materials rental system. The business owner rents irrigation pipes to local farms. (I hid the company name from the form). (Farms rent pipe for $5/pipe/month instead of buying them outright for $60 each...typically a farm only needs irrigation pipe for a few months out of the year.)
This system will receive requests for new irrigation pipe from local farms, email a PDF'd order to the delivery truck, who delivers the pipe in multiple loads. Each load (and its associated driver) is tracked in the system for later analysis. At the end of the rental period, the entire order is typically picked up (often in multiple truckloads), and the contract is closed. This simple scenario happens 80% of the time. The other 20%, however, involve multiple requests for new pipe during the length of the contract period, as well as requests for extensions for a portion of the existing rented equipment.
Here's how the form will work as its currently designed:
- Customer calls in to request new pipe and fittings
- order taker creates a new Order
- Each line item requested is entered in the top Order Detail box as a Delivery request.
- Note that the button on the top right of the Order Detail box is a triple-state toggle button that switches the view from All Deliveries to All Pickups to All Requests
- when a delivery is made, the driver fills out a manual Delivery Ticket that is emailed to the database operator.
- The database operator then presses the new Delivery button under Deliveries & Pickups
- The user then adds items to that delivery by clicking on a line item in the Order Detail, entering a quantity (ignore the From and To fields for now), and pressing [Post]. Line items are entered one at a time in a delivery.
for Pickup, the customer calls back (or is contacted by the company) and schedules a pickup. Each line item to be picked up is entered as a separate line item on the Order Detail as a Pickup request. The same process used to record a Delivery Ticket in the system is used to record a Pickup Ticket.
The box on the right lists a running total of all line items at a site, and is updated real-time. The list can grow quite lengthy if you consider all the fittings, pumps, sprinkler attachments, sizes of pipe, etc.
Some obvious improvements would be to:
- add a checkbox system in the Order Detail box that would dump multiple line items into a delivery/pickup all at once
- make it more obvious that you're creating a Delivery request vs Pickup request (change the title of the section, hide the "type" field, for example, depending on what is being displayed
But, here's what I am wrapped around the axle about: My client understands this form, but his first comment was, '80-90% of my orders are simple deliveries and then complete pickups at the end of the term. Why are you making me enter the same information twice on this form (once for the order request, and once for the delivery)' Great point. I'm not sure how to simplify this, but also accommodate for the 10-20% of cases where multiple requests come in during an order period, and multiple pickup requests are also received during this period. (Their customer calls up in January and says "I need 1000 pipes." Then, he calls back in February and says "send me 250 more." Then, in May, they call in and say, "Can you pick up 600 of the 3" pipes, and deliver 250 more of the 2" pipes?" Finally, in June, they call back and say "I'm done with everything, can you come pick it all up?"). Note also that the original order request and the actual delivery are two separate events that need to be tracked separately.