Design Thinking on Display

November 15, 2012 by Uta Spinger, Angela Dunn 0

Picture: SAP

Working in glass-walled studios so passers-by can observe the activities within, two interdisciplinary teams – consisting of user researchers, interaction designers, visual designers, and subject experts – tackled challenges that involved improving the user experience of core processes. SAPPHIRE NOW attendees watched as the teams worked, attaching Post-its to their whiteboards, constructing colorful Lego structures, and clearly making progress toward their goals.

Scenario 1: Time recording

Team One was tasked with making the scenario for time recording more attractive. The team began by conducting on-site user research. Christine Hall, a senior design consultant, asked interested customers (end users, managers, and IT experts) to name their requirements for a user-friendly scenario. “They were really curious and very open to taking part in the process,” says Hall. “All together, we conducted more than 20 interviews.”

After clustering the interviewees’ statements and drawing up a “persona” – or fictitious end user – from them, the next step was to design the prototype. After validation by the customer, the prototype was then used to create a mockup. “We could consider ourselves successful if, after the final stage, we had managed to strike a balance between ease of use on the one hand and business value on the other,” says Christine.

Scenario 2: Mobile purchase requisition

Team Two’s task was to develop a mobile scenario for approving purchase requisitions.  This was one of three manager and employee self-service scenarios (the others were leave request and shopping cart approvals) that the team worked on during SAPPHIRE NOW in Madrid.

In this particular scenario, the focus was on customer validation, because a mockup was already in place. User researcher Eva Rügenhagen explains the procedure: “To make this abstract process more concrete, we use a comic-strip format to represent the prototype, because it’s something that everyone can identify with.” The team, which included subject expert Dennis Bruder and visual designer Michael Krenkler, asked customers what they wanted from the app. When most of them responded that they wanted to be able to see who the order was from – even when they were on the move, this requirement was identified as a “hot topic.” On this basis, Michael drew up a detailed design and then built a Lego scenario. “This is supposed to be a fun process too, remember?” he joked. Last of all, the team once again asked its customers to provide feedback for inclusion in the final development process. Because, ultimately, the goal of design thinking is to produce a development that can be added to the standard.

Next page: Focus on business users

Picture: SAP

“People have concerns about user experience, so we need to have conversations with customers about those concerns,” says Jeff Woods, SAP’s head of product evangelism and a former Gartner analyst. “SAP has been making software for 40 years – so we’ve evolved user experience several times. But the biggest issue out there is that much of our development and design effort focuses on design for expert users,” he continues. “As a result, systems have evolved to be productive, for people to run large, high scale, and medium sized businesses – that’s the emphasis of SAP Business Suite.”

Focus on business users

But while expert users are reasonably satisfied, it’s casual users SAP is focusing on. With the evolution of mobile devices, casual users too need direct access to software systems. “We’re connecting our user experience efforts with business value – making sure that technology is useful from a business perspective,” says Woods.

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