This blog post was sourced from johnmcree.com and written by Jon McRee, Director of UX, Universal Mind & E2 Innovate UX & Design Track Chair
Enterprise software is an exciting place to be for those of us involved in user experience. There is a sea change happening as users demand more from software. Many argue that exposure to well designed applications through new models of distribution, primarily via mobile devices, have paved the way for these changes. The ROI of good UX has become patently clear (pun intended) in the consumer space, and it seems that more and more organizations are realizing that it is also a good investment even when internal users have little choice in the software they must use. Good UX in software increases employee retention, decreases training time, and allows employees to concentrate and spend more time on their primary role which is probably never “systems user.”
The Enterprise 2.0 Conference is another example of this sea change. Each year, the conference topics show us that the focus within enterprise is finally shifting from systems and technology to people. The “humans” in human-computer interaction are the dominant catalysts for evolution in this sector. Sure, emergent devices are changing the way those humans engage, but industry visionaries in almost every vertical realize that technology will only take them so far. We are quickly approaching feature saturation. We’re probably already there.
But UX isn’t a magic pill either. All too often I see and hear about other examples where companies hire a UX practitioner or even try to build a UX team in what amounts to be another attempt at dominance mimicry. Most organizations want the unprecedented success that Apple has had and hope that they can achieve this by becoming more focused on UX. The truth of the matter is that most organizations simply aren’t ready to make the kind of changes necessary to reap the kind of benefits that an internal ux practice can achieve. Still, with careful execution, an internal UX team can begin to win the hearts and minds of an organization. It just takes time, patience, and some experience navigating the politics that are always present within the enterprise.
The truth of the matter is that most organizations simply aren’t ready to make the kind of changes necessary to reap the kind of benefits that an internal ux practice can achieve.
Over the next several weeks, I will tell the story of a recent experience within an enterprise as they pushed through a major transition in software. Most of the story will sound familiar to anyone who has been through the process. Hopefully there will be an insight or two that I can pass on. It would be even better if this generates discussion for more effective approaches than the ones I talk about. I hope you get something out of it, even if it’s just validation for what you are doing right now.
So here we go. Part 1…
I recent had the pleasure of working on a very large enterprise engagement focused on launching and integrating a new CRM platform for sales associates and support teams. As usual, there were multiple channels distributed across several business divisions that all had unique and specific requirements and business processes. In most ways this was a classic enterprise software development effort. And by that, I mean a fairly massive cluster **ck.
Much of the work focused on getting the new platform to a point of parity with the old Siebel based system that the sales and support teams were already familiar with. Some solid user research had already been conducted by one of the UX team members and several personas were established. Persona behaviors, needs, and goals were differentiated by the roles that individuals played within the organization, and these seemed to correspond to business titles more frequently than not.
Persona behaviors, needs, and goals were differentiated by the roles that individuals played within the organization, and these seemed to correspond to business titles more frequently than not.
There were four development teams and four product owners in charge of various sections of the platform or with additional software integration. There were two UX designers supporting those teams as well. So plenty of people were involved. Someone could argue that there were too many people to be really productive or at least efficient, and they would probably be correct.
The great news was that the developers were a part of some of the most highly functioning AGILE teams I’ve come across yet. They helped write solid stories and use cases. Scrums were efficient and the reviews at the end of each sprint demonstrated serious forward momentum. They totally knew what they were doing.
After coming onboard, I noticed something during the first review that seemed like a simple fix. Since two of the development teams were focused on two different business channels, there was a tremendous amount of overlap in terms of labeling and functionality in the interface, but the layout was strikingly different across these two channels. The terminology between the channels was similar enough that it seemed to me that they should pretty much be the same thing. I made some notes and talked with my teams and it seemed like things would be tidily cleaned up in a sprint or two at the most.
I started poking around the QA sandboxes and I realized that beneath that veneer was something actually troubling. Massive lists in drop down menus with options that weren’t obviously mutually exclusive seemed to be the rule rather than the exception. My gut told me that some of the workflows were suspect. They seemed unnecessarily difficult with multiple points of access yielding very different experiences. This was going to be a little more difficult than what I originally thought. Good. This was how I would demonstrate value…
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If you would like to hear more from Jon McRee and see him speak live, it’s not too late to register for E2 Innovate, held November 12 – 15 at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Jon McRee will be chairing the User Experience & Design track. Register with priority code: WEEJ12 for $500 off current pricing off Conference Passes or a free Expo Pass.
TAGS E2 e2conf Enterprise enterprise 2.0 User Experience User Experience & Design UX UX & Design
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