Rushy Worky, a VP at a very important fictional company, decides that his company needs a custom enterprise application. He wants a software to help him with: project management, customer relation, and accounting. It needs to be available on all platforms and cloud sync is a must. Since he needs it as soon as possible, he considers there’s no time (nor budget) for personas, assessment, user journey or fancy information architecture questions.
“This is not a product for my clients. Usability is not something essential for me, nor user experience or feelings.” you hear him say. His response to the question “How do your employees feel when using the app?” is that they are paid to work, not having feelings.
Rushy Worky is not on the right track here, as you can see. Fast forward a few months, after the deployment, Rushy has a working app and everyone is excited to work with it as it promised to solve big problems within the company. After a few uses, people figure out that the application is hard to work with, the learning curve is steep, and almost half of the features are useless. These people are getting frustrated with the user experience and they start to blame it for everything. Rushy loses clients and employees decide to quit all of a sudden. Rushy decides to ditch the app.
A week later, he reads in the news about Thinky Feely, VP at another important fictional company. Thinky decided to develop a similar enterprise app, currently in its early stages but he states that it’s going to be awesome.
“If only Thinky knew what I’ve been through”, Rushy said.
A year later, Thinky is booming his business thanks to the new enterprise app he acquired for his company. He has new clients, happy employees, good customer service and even wants to sell the enterprise app to other companies. Meanwhile, Rushy is still stuck with the problem without any solution in sight.
Sad story, huh? Although the names are fictional, the stories are real. Just to be sure that you will become Thinky Feely and not Rushy Worky, here are some tips you should take into account when you acquire a custom enterprise application for your company.
Very often we choose to treat internal issues superficially. We get caught in the trap that if the client doesn’t see it or use it, then it doesn’t have to be beautiful or usable. We think and improve our clients’ user experience but we forget that our employees also need a good user experience. If this enterprise application is something that can fix an important problem for your business give it the attention, time and resources it deserves. This way you can be sure that the app will solve your problem and will not become a failed project.
Make an internal team responsible for the project and offer them all the support they need. At a minimum, make this project someone’s main responsibility. When we design an app a good part of the design process takes place in your company. Having a team to interact with will greatly increase the communication between us and your company.
They say that 1 hour of planning can save you 10 hours of work. In this case, 1 hour of needs assessment can make the difference between Rushy and Thinky. It’s that important. We understand that you don’t have a lot of time but the beginning is critical. Help us understand your needs, your employees, what are your desired results and how the product will be used. It will make a big difference for us. Your involvement will ensure that you will get an enterprise application that works and also has a good user experience.
We are a digital product development agency that focuses on user experience. We use tools like personas, interviews, user flows, wireframes, prototype software, etc. to better understand your business and your digital needs and wants. Some of these tools might be new for you, but we are willing to explain if you are willing to listen. Some attention to the sketches, mock-ups and early prototypes will help us shape your desired enterprise application and generate better solutions for your problems.
Good usability means that your employees will achieve their desired goals faster and easier. It means that they will achieve more in their 8-hour workday. They will be less stressed and more focused on serving the client than fixing and avoiding bugs in the system. You don’t need to create more problems when you try to fix another one. For these reasons we have user journeys and use cases. We work together with your employees to understand how they do what they do, and how we can improve the process.
Better yet usability saves you time with training. We strive to create applications that are easy to use and understand. This means that the employees that use the enterprise application will become productive faster and you will save time and money.
We know that beautiful things are made for clients but hear us out: Some of your employees will spend hours after hours looking at your new enterprise application. If you look at an ugly painting for 8 hours don’t you think it will affect you in a bad way? The same thing applies to your app too. We are inclined to use aesthetically pleasing apps because this is in our nature.
Therefore a beautiful app means an increase in user experience, internal adoption and it will make your employees feel better when they use it.
Using an MVP (minimum viable product) approach can help you a lot. First of all it makes the deployment easier because users don’t have to learn all the bulk of the information at the same time. Second, it means that you have time to gather inside feedback and create a product that is really needed. Sometimes you need a prototype product to work with, for you to really understand what you need. Also, the MVP approach stops you from overdoing it. In the beginning, you want a lot of features but as you go by you realize that some were just nice to have and not necessarily vital for your business. User experience is embedded from the start in the app but as you advance in the next stages of the app you can tweak the user experience to better serve your purpose.
Not everybody will use all the features available in your enterprise application. Decide on what should be the core features set. Then add modules to personalize the experience. People are different and they have different needs. This is why you wanted a customized app in the first place. Understand their differences and treat your employees as separate segments. Offering them a custom user experience in the enterprise application will help them achieve their objectives faster and will make your employees feel special. Don’t believe us? Make an app for a department in your company. Wait for a while and you will see the request for other apps on your desk.
You are launching something new and innovative. It will make a difference in your company. This is really cool! Share this with the people outside of the office. Get feedback from business partners, clients and other people in your industry. We tend to live in a bubble. When you start to explore the exterior environment you will be surprised of what you will find there. A company that shares their work is more likely to win our admiration than a company that doesn’t share anything.
User experience doesn’t stop at the end-users. Your employees interact with your clients and any changes you make in your company will affect the external environment. It’s all connected so why not get some external opinions on your project.
You never know what will happen. There are a lot of success stories of companies that created something for their internal use and then they started selling it as a product. Maybe it will not become your core revenue source but at least you will get a stream of income that will help you continue the development of your app and transform it into something even better. Having a bigger user base will improve feedback and will offer you more opportunities to improve the user experience of the enterprise application.
The people that will build your enterprise app must care about user experience. If you are going to be the only one that thinks that user experience is important then you are going to have a tough time. Make sure that you are on the same page with them and you are striving to achieve the same thing. If you manage to do this, then the job is half done.
If you are more Thinky than Rushy and you have an interesting digital project, we would like to hear it!
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