Michael Cao | Re-Imagining the Pipeline Work Experience
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About This Project

This was a project of discovery to elevate the work experience of  pipeline field workers and back office staff for a leading utilities company . With strict focus towards human-centric design and technological innovation, this end to end project began with intensive research in uncovering human insights, progressing into iterative ideation of concepts, and ultimately delivering an interactive prototype and strategic blueprint for implementation.


With an immersive and collaborative research philosophy, design research engaged in a week-long user immersion with pipeline workers and office staff, consisting of a series of in-field ride-alongs and journey sketching labs. These frontline insights propelled the synthesis of user personas, current-state blueprint, and design principles, as a means to define and socialize the current-state experiences of the users. 


The research outcomes led to the design of six concepts, digital and physical, which were prioritized with the business stakeholders and users through concept prioritization labs. Interactive prototypes of the prioritized concepts were built with recommendations from design research, and ultimately iterated upon through concept assessment labs with the users. The refined prototypes are currently in implementation.


This project was built to contain 5 phases, with each phase leveraging best practices in design to ultimately create the future state vision for the field worker/back office staff work experience. The 5 phases are as outlined:


01 Framing – To align on the business challenge, build upon the current understanding of the work experience and operations, and consolidate knowledge and hypotheses.

Assets produced: research plan, initial hypotheses 


02 Understanding – Develop a deep understanding of workers’ processes, needs, and experiences through in-field research activities; to uncover why user needs are not fulfilled by existing tools and platforms.

 Assets produced: comparative/ competitive scan, in-field research discussion guides, user immersion (ethno) research, journey sketching workshops, photographic artifacts


03 Sense-making –  To translate the research outputs into a holistic overview of the current-state experience, alongside directions for future opportunities.

Assets produced: current state journey map, personas, design principles, human insights report


04 Solutioning –  To identify concepts for the business to prioritize and refine, by amalgamating phase 03 outcomes.

Assets produced: future concepts and features, concept prioritization workshops 


05 Testing –  To collect  information through observation and feedback on the effectiveness of a range of concepts by conducting testing with end users, while simultaneously socializing solutions with the user population.

Assets produced: prototype of prioritized concepts, prototype testing, concept assessment workshops, preliminary implementation roadmap 

About This Project

Reimagining Pipeline Worker Experience by Designing an Interactive Prototype

Interactive Prototype, Research, Strategy, Utilities