User Centred Design

IBRS advisor Dr. Joseph Sweeney discusses why it falls to individuals to look at improving their work in a post-COVID world. Dr. Sweeney comments on the need to build a culture of innovation that empowers employees to understand where improvement is needed in their job.

Full Story.

Conclusion: In organisations across Australia, there is a push for digital and business transformation. Many of these same organisations utilise business analysis in a traditional way which results in the standard capture of requirements and the conversion of requirements into system specifications without really challenging business processes. In addition, there is often a trend of allocating too many responsibilities to a single role and not providing appropriate authority to the role of rigorously analysing processes, systems and requirements, which will impact on many digital transformation activities.

Business Transformation needs comprehensive analysis and a complete reassessment of the process or analysis with a capital “A”. Failure to objectively and fearlessly review and remove outdated processes and system functions will result in a failure to appropriately transform the business for the future.

Conclusion: User Centred Design (UCD) and Design Thinking are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, each approach is better suited to different scenarios and understanding the strengths and focus of each approach enables organisations to build capability and processes that leverage the opportunities presented by each to maximise service innovation and new product service design. While often used as approaches to identify and design products and services with a technology focus, they are in no way limited to technology elements. Not only is it important to leverage the most appropriate approach but organisations also need to build and apply skills and knowledgeable internal resources in the most effective manner to yield the expected results from these experiential methods.

Conclusion: Public policy over the past decade has been considered by many as reactive with resulting implementations ineffective. In 2012, the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) published a report that reviewed the policy development approach of the Australian Government and determined that approaches could at best be considered ‘Policy on the Run’. It was the opinion of IPAA that this approach was ineffective and that a business case approach would be more effective. UCD provides evidence to support the business case approach and put the community at the centre of policy development.

Conclusion: Australian governments at all levels are in the process of rethinking, reimagining and redesigning systems, process and services to improve government service delivery to an ever more demanding community. A number of government jurisdictions have or are adopting a user-centric approach to the design and delivery of a new generation of government services.

User-centric approaches such as User Centred Design puts the user at the heart of design and implementation and focuses on building products and services that are usable and useful through an approach that is inclusive and iterative.

However, simply adopting a fashionable approach under the guise of best practice alone will not provide optimal benefits and often places undue focus on the process at the expense of critical cultural and capability elements. Agencies looking to design and deliver improved government services need to also anticipate and provide for critical success factors such as: what is the most appropriate user approach, what skills and personalities should design teams include and leverage, and what behaviours should user-centric change programs support, encourage and reward to facilitate a successful user-centric program?

Conclusion: Progressing digital transformation strategies requires a much more holistic view of service delivery and extends beyond existing business process review and business systems improvement. Designing services that support digital transformation objectives need to look at the end to end service including customer experience. Traditional business analysis activities that captured the requirements of the business process owner and are used to implement business systems will not be adequate.

Conclusion: consumers are de facto demanding Omni-channel customer service in digital commerce for its single consistent positive experience but Omni-channel service is only an aspiration for most businesses today.

  • Viable Omni-channel technology and IT architectures exist and are rapidly emerging but insensitive, unknowing business management is the main inhibitor to adoption of Omni-channel as the universal approach and practice.
  • Omni-channel creates a bigger scaling problem in marketing and IT than most enterprises currently envisage.
  • Leading adopters are evaluating Omni-channel service as a goal, but only investing in deployments that are immediately affordable because an Omni-channel ecosystem can be endless.

Conclusion: In an effort to reduce transaction costs governments have moved face-to-face payment-based transactions to online services. However, it is not always clear if savings are maximised and customers are totally satisfied.

If governments look to redesign services, some payment-based transactions no longer need to exist and many can be automated to the point they require no intervention from government or customer.

Most jurisdictions have failed to reduce payment-based transactions because their service delivery bodies are KPIed on the number of transactions they process.

Conclusion: Organisations globally and across Australia increasingly understand the importance of providing products and services with a great user experience. Global companies and brands such as Google, the iPhone, the iPad, and the Kindle from Amazon have proven that user experience is an important differentiator even when something is not first to market. User experience (UX) is often confused with User Interface (UI) and organisations wanting to improve the customer experience of the products and services need to understand the difference. Organisations may increase their capabilities or engage an experienced partner to assist them to improve their user experience (UX) and it is important to understand the UX and UI roles and then apply them both in the appropriate manner so that they are not producing the wrong thing in a beautiful wrapper.

Conclusion: Consumer-oriented software and online services are raising user expectations. To determine the aspects of user experience design, and the trade-offs that are appropriate in a particular business context, requires extensive collaboration across multiple disciplines. The cross-disciplinary nature of the work must be considered when evaluating external providers of user experience design services. References and case studies should be consulted to confirm cross disciplinary capabilities and the level of expertise in all relevant disciplines.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a workspace design project for knowledge workers. The organisation was keen to provide the right physical environment and tools to help retain them and maximise their contribution to the success of the enterprise.