Understanding the problem or process and the people who will be impacted by the solution is critical to a successful change. It is important to not simply look at the ins and outs of the particular issue being addressed, but to see the whole. It is critical to understand how a change, upgrade or removal of a system or process will impact the entire system and those who work in it so it does not interrupt other work flows.
A global alliance of not for profits were working to use technology to share data to increase efficiency and effectiveness around the world. They were finding that they were doing overlapping work and if they knew what other organizations had completed each could focus on other priorities. Each organization had different data points they collect, security protocol on how information is shared and value they wanted to keep internal. I had interviews with 20 individuals in all levels of leadership from those on the ground to the CEO on 4 continents. I analyzed the data from all of my interviews and found the areas everyone was already in agreement and offered solutions for the areas of disagreement. The deliverable from this phase of the project was a white paper with the findings and possible solutions for moving forward. Having done this work the entire project started with interest and buy in from the organizations and it showed us where we needed to set the system up for programatic differences between the organizations experiences of the software.
Planning is critical to understanding the scope of the project and setting up the team to work the best in each phase. So often we want to jump right into the most tangible portions of the project, but we end up saving ourselves a lot of time and money by breaking the project into phases with built in flexibility to provide the best value to a client. Planning also allows a project's pace to be determined, it can be done quickly or over time, whatever is best for any given project. A plan allows for scope and accountability to the project.
A company wanted to improve an internal software solution that used green screen technology and was difficult for new staff to learn since most consumer software now utilizes intuitive interfaces. If we had jumped directly into implementation we would have started down the path that seemed most reasonable to the leaders and to the technology team, but by breaking into phases we were able to learn that there was an minimum viable product of the final effort that we could be executed quickly and internally. This company was able to find a way to give themselves time with the new system in a limited way to be sure this will really work for their company.
Collaboration is so important to the success of a project. When a project is completed in a silo it is very difficult to get high user adoption and for it to not impede another work flow. Getting input from other departments and working together between design and development can be the difference between a project that was completed according the requirements and a project that adds value to a company.
A not for profit organization had many field offices around the world and when it came time to upgrade software solutions each office made choices for their area and didn't look for opportunities to work collaboratively across all the offices around the world, so the main office decided to purchase an enterprise solution to have every office utilize. Unfortunately, the main office didn't have a full understanding of the processes that were in place in each field office, so the new software was not adopted in the field offices. By collaborating we were able to find efficiency and save the organization money, but the field offices still had specific tools to perform their unique duties.
Often designs will be designed and agreed upon by all the parties and the developer will develop those designs, then a product is released into the world and not used by its intended audience. One of the reasons this happens is because a product isn't usable without explicit instructions on how it should be used. Including a round of user testing in the design phase gives the confidence that a product is intuitive for a user.
A company was releasing a digitized version of an in-person training, complete with worksheets for the user to fill in as they go. The original designs were the logical digital version of the training, but there was a lot of nuance that happens in an in-person training that cannot be exactly duplicated in a contained digital experience. It was very helpful to get input from real potential users and adjust the designs. After the designs were adjusted potential users were able to get through the process without hitting any of the roadblocks. If we hadn't done testing, we would have shipped a product that many users would have been very frustrated with.