Intro: Providing UX Consulting in an Enterprise

I was working for a technology consulting firm and I was brought in to lead the UX for a key company initiative (implement a Business Process Management System) and ensure the design of the new application would resonate with the internal users as well as improve operational throughput. The challenge for me would be to
discover the business process and design a platform that would provide relief and value for both end users and business stakeholders. My concern was I had to work with an external product team and design within the limitations of the pre-built application.

Problem Summary:

In short, my enterprise client needed to act on a key initiative to add Business Process Management tools to their organization. This would help them manage the business process and remove bottlenecks that arise when you grow at scale. The first project we would be adding BPM to was a newly formed line of business.

Our product team would need to capture an existing manual process onto this pre-built BPM tool so we could create a consistent order process, prioritize as well as create automation where it was appropriate.

This enterprise client had been dealing with outdated manual processes and too many employee resources were needed to scale. So, a key goal was to reduce manual effort and increase productivity. This BPM solution would also need to be built on a new technical platform and would need to work with multiple other legacy systems. So, I also had to consider what the user journey and application workflow would be to minimize friction.

Because the technical platform was decided, I spent a great deal of time understanding the user needs and the usage scenarios in order to provide a solution that was going to be relevant for the users. I was very cautious in my design proposals in order to remain compliant within the platform constraints. As well as empathetic to user needs as they would be required to use the new system daily.

User Research:

The first step in my process was to understand the user needs and match them up with the business goals. I needed to capture actual users in their place of work and capture the business stakeholders goals who wanted to expand this new business. I dove into user interviews bringing along the business analyst so he could benefit from hearing the pain points of the user first hand.

I asked the user a ‘day in the life of’ type questions as well as other scenario based questions in order to get both quantitative and qualitative information.

Research Analysis:

After doing dozens of interviews and I compiled my user research I studied each one and asked myself what similarities do I see and what differences do I see. I looked for patterns in the major pain points and created an Executive Summary of the persona research highlighting these things.

I also found a few specific opportunities in the current process that users dictated and some significant business issues that were occurring.

  1. Lots of time was spent in order preparation including multiple calls to verify the “readiness” of vehicles when taking new orders, so transporters don’t run into dry run fees. So, the application would need some sort of pre-assessment.
  2. Every auction user is cross-trained (T-shaped) to capture orders and follow up. This new application would need to accommodate a power user with access to all process steps.
  3. Business profit was in constant jeopardy within the current state, this was in majority due to constant fees, and the inability to standardize pricing. The business would need to develop pricing guidelines in order to remain profitable.

I presented this research and analysis to the business team, it reinforced my initial assumptions and helped to form future usage scenarios and goal metrics to impact.

Information Architecture

So, now that I had addressed the user research and analyzed the key metrics. I needed to dive into the business process and architecture.

I worked with the product owner and enterprise architect to document the end to end business process aligned with the user journey and the architectural landscape.

I wanted EVERYONE to understand how this application was going to look like laid out and interacting with people, process, and systems.

Once this Information Architecture was built I worked with the Product Owner and the Enterprise Architect to help form Epics and Features from the business needs and user considerations.

After the Epics and Features were decided, the stories were written together. I took these features and visualized them into a Feature Process Map. I presented what an MVP looked like, and included the all the documentation so the team would know where we were going and what value we were building.

I also included Usage Scenarios to paint a better picture for the business and development team.

They needed to understand the context the users will be experiencing while using the application. I will continue to use these scenarios further in the individual UX considerations of each specific user story.

Wireframes & Visual Design

Now that Epics and Features were created the next phase was to begin work on individual user stories. I referred back to my initial UX considerations and dove into the actual application wireframe. I wanted to provide some suggestions on how I would position the navigation and content areas in the BPM application template.

I wouldn’t invest too much effort in the visual design at this stage, it was more important to nail down a foundation for growth.

As always I would walk the entire team, including development thru my UX considerations so they could understand why I am proposing the following designs. I would answer questions about any business needs and field questions from Quality Assurance on any edge cases that would need to be considered.

I commonly use InVision to present interactive prototypes for the team to share and comment on. I also, keep other design artifacts attached to the user story for quick reference and team documentation.

Application Features

Because of my research and goals, I included basic functionality features along with efficiencies for advanced users and system prioritization.

The user at a basic level needs the following:

  • Be able to enter required data in an easy format with field level validation ( so they don’t get too far before errors get shown)
  • Ability to tab thru to the next fields ( providing shortcuts for power users to expedite form input )
  • Have the ability to edit the data inserted and save when appropriate.

invision prototype example: https://invis.io/9P8F9FJXC

I knew I was going to be limited in the UI and the interaction design because we were using the BPM base platform. I worked with the developers to leverage existing ‘Out of the Box’ functionality vs. creating unnecessary customization.

“I remained steadfast on the “goals” of the user and didn’t get too wrapped up in small details on my proposed UI. I stood my ground on basic usability features and user needs in order to remain compliant with user experience overall.”

Summary:

I worked with this team building an MVP of the BPM platform for about 9 months. We got a Beta version ready to test with users in the field and the VP of Operations felt that it was sufficient to test over a small section of the business.

I was happy that I was able to collaborate with this team, bring user needs to the forefront and advocate for the key metrics to deliver. The development and business team became engrained in UX process. Every story was designed with UX considerations and research along with the proposed UI.

 My mission was to clearly communicate my UX recommendations and experiences, identify risks along with potential solutions, and issue best practices for future development. And we all actively worked toward the business goals in order to reduce manual effort and increase productivity.