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Building the right tool.

Car body shops buy in to a material invoicing software that helps recoup more profit for their business - so why does the tool go unused? User research uncovers a path to build the right tool, for the right person, in the right context.

Generative Research . Co-creation . Lo-fi prototyping . Change Management 

Project Impact

Expansion of Key Value Prop

Research insights contributed to a design strategy that scales the core value by solving user problems that our tool previously overlooked. This new approach also provides a tool for a new large market segment that the business has been courting.

Long Term Strategic Direction 

Insights are used to create a long term strategic direction with a roadmap that breaks efforts into prioritized release cycles that are digestible for development. 

Increased Utilization

As solutions from tiered design strategy are implemented, utilization numbers steadily increase. Current large accounts are requesting to pilot upcoming solutions so they can quickly increase their usage and associated profits.

User Context 


The users of 3M software work in body shops fixing cars. This invoicing tool can help them get reimbursed from insurance for the 3M materials they use to repair cars. 

There are several specific user types:

Technicians: use the materials to do repairs

Blueprinters: document material usage on repairs

Estimators: charge insurance for repair materials

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Problem Framing


Even as new software accounts grew rapidly, usage reports showed that not many users were utilizing this tool at all. 

There was a clear misalignment between the values of the leaders who purchase the software and actual users of the tool. I set out to learn how this tool could evolve to strengthen its value prop by becoming desirable to it's primary users.


Business: Increase usage of invoicing tool and profit recovered by users as a direct result

Design: Increase understanding/documentation of key user roles and specific processes, implementation of long term feature design strategy


  1. Co-Creation workshops

  2. Research Strategy 

  3. Prototype Building

  4. Concept Testing

  5. Design Strategy

  6. Pilot Testing

Co- Creation


With varied understanding from the stakeholder team on actual user workflows, I set out to make a repair process map to gain alignment.

I created a detailed process map with national territory leaders with deep knowledge of variable shop repair processes. We documented knowledge gaps and opportunities that contributed to the user research to follow

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Process Insights


Through understanding the complexities of the repair process across roles, I created a simple vision of how 3M's solutions may integrate solutions in a meaningful way using a storyboard. 

This helped us (me + designer) create concepts for key moments to share with users and gain stakeholder buy-in for the large research effort that followed. 

Concept Testing


I methodically sought out users based on their usage of the tool, making sure we had representation from all user types and adoption status'. I coded their responses to both compare them on a consistent scale and visualize their differences. This was crucial for later synthesis and communication. 

We (me + designer) ran virtual sessions that discussed current pain points as well as shared new concepts for evaluation in contrast to what they use today. 


Project Insights


The right tool 

Our current tool has some significant limitations that users saw as costly to their main concern - time savings. (Re)designing functionalities to reduce time on task would greatly influence our user's workflow.

The right person

We learned that our tool was positioned for use by the entirely wrong user role. By creating a tool that is modeled after the right person, we can be more confident it will be used to benefit the accounts bottom line.

The right context

We learned our tool was being positioned for use at the wrong point in the repair process using a web interface. A better time to invoice happens in the shop, where a mobile device would be much easier for users to access.

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