As a business, we reveal all reality when we research a software solution - and there are many reasons to embrace it.
A client had a seemingly simple task: "Our employees are having issues with this internal software. We'd like you to do some research and help us build a better version."
We began with a kickoff meeting to identify which users we should visit (a provisional persona exercise) and conducted Stakeholder Interviews to understand business goals, risks, perceived pain points, and potential pain points of the software.
We worked with the client to schedule the appropriate number and variety of observations we refer to as Contextual Inquiries (CIs). This type of fieldwork is where we go out into their business to observe and interview the employees using the software. After our first two CIs, we had already identified and assembled a good list of issues, opportunities, and workarounds about the application in question. We also took notice of, and logged, a list of issues five times as long surrounding the use of the application.
Surrounding applications don’t play well with others and need to be accounted for
We noticed that users relied on many other applications to get their jobs done. Since those applications were not integrated, users were copying and pasting between them and often doing twice or three times the work. The software suite wasn’t synced with other applications, so data was appearing differently to other users across the system and everything appeared to be ‘bugged.’
Business processes beneath the interface do not align with its function
Users also pointed out they were measured against and required to achieve specific metrics in the application, so they would spend an inordinate amount of time checking and rechecking ‘correct’ work. They would surf randomly around the application and enter unnecessary or duplicate data until the ‘percentage time spent in application’ threshold was reached.
The physical location in which they are working is hindering their ability to get work done
Many employees had to overcome legacy hardware which was incompatible with the software they were expected to use. Operating systems would crash in the middle of a critical process. Incomprehensible error messages unrelated to their task would appear at random and have to be dismissed. Monitor sizes did not match the interface. Many felt they were ‘chained to their desks’ because mobile tools were not available and they would have to get up, go find an answer, and then return to update the system.
Users’ emotions and perceptions
As we continued to build rapport with the employees – which is an artform in itself – we heard many of them held grudges against the company for not trusting them to do their jobs correctly, or letting them solve problems in different but more effective ways. They noted some managers had certain ‘pets’ who were allowed to operate outside of the system, weren’t measured by the same KPIs, and were fast-tracked to better positions regardless of performance or tenure. Some increased their efficiency by using competitors’ applications in their spare time off-the-clock at home.
At projekt202, we have a seasoned team of researchers, strategists, designers and developers that, when following proper practices and methodologies, will always deliver some of the most usable, flexible and speedy solutions in the industry.
However, if the true, underlying problem is not addressed, the software’s chance of success is impacted. But you’re in luck – we can help you solve the true problem.
projekt202 is the leader in experience-driven software strategy, design and development. We have a unique and established methodology for understanding people in context — we reveal unmet needs — which drives everything we do. This leads to a crisp, clear understanding of the customer, which shapes the design and development of new solutions and experiences. We have the expertise, teams, skills and scale to deliver sophisticated software solutions that improve any and all touchpoints across the user journey.
projekt202 has spent over 15 years bringing to life and to market compelling experiences through our Experience Strategy & Insight, User Experience, Software Development, Marketing & Analytics, and Program Management practices. Our talented team has delivered emotionally-rich and intuitive solutions for global brands and clients such as 7-Eleven, Capital One, Dell, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Neiman Marcus, Samsung Electronics, and The Container Store, among many others.