Human centered solution assessment and why you should be doing it

April 24, 2020
Steve Alexander

Increasingly clients are asking us to support them in selecting technology solutions by taking a human centred approach that ultimately reflects the real needs of end users, operational staff and business strategy. In this article we discuss how UX methodologies and a product mindset can be leveraged to inform product strategy and roadmaps that will ultimately lead to a more robust assessment and selection process.

Align on a vision

Interview stakeholders to define a shared vision of what the future state experience looks like. This helps frame up the context in which a potential solution will be used and tests the parameters of what it will be required to support. Ask the right questions, make sure to test not only the future state vision but build an understanding of what boundaries stakeholders are not prepared to cross; often it’s just as important to understand where a company isn’t heading as to where it is.

Define a customer experience framework

Talk to your customers, understand who they are and what motivates them. Stand up a behavioural segmentation model and reimagine the experience based on legitimate customer needs. Don’t be shy in imagining the future, knock up a prototype and use this as a conversation starter with customers and stakeholders alike. This approach will flush out the pain points and opportunities that a solution needs to respond to and should ultimately leave you with a phased customer experience model which can be used to underpin your product strategy. 

Do human centred requirements analysis

Putting customers and impacted staff at the centre of the requirements gathering process enables you to adopt a human centred design mindset and provides answers to some pretty important questions such as what customer or staff needs are you trying to meet?

Translate your customer experience model into a set of features then ask your customers and internal stakeholders to prioritise the features. This prioritisation quickly defines what features a potential solution will need to support. It can also be used to spot functional gaps in a potential solution and help ensure that the solution’s roadmap will meet your needs over time.

Formalise it

Define your product strategy within the context of your customer experience framework and document it in an easy to read format. Ensure that content is snackable so the team and stakeholders can easily refer to and embed it within design and development. Use the document as evidence, as a reason to stay the course and not get distracted by shiny things that don’t offer real value to your customers or business.   

Objectively assess solutions

Request demos or better yet, get demo access so you can conduct UX expert reviews and user testing to evaluate customer facing and operational interfaces. Pick the experience apart then recruit customers and staff to test how the out-of-the-box experience works. This is really important as it can help identify deficiencies and indicate the level of customisation that may be required.

In summary

UX methods and analysis play an important part in firstly driving the creation of a customer centric product strategy which can be leveraged to accurately assess candidate solutions against your desired future state experience and prioritised roadmap. In addition, the use of UX reviews and user testing allows for early user centred feedback of workflows and interfaces, and more realistic expectations of required customisation and associated costs.

Ultimately, with a relatively small investment, UX methodologies can go a long way to reducing the risk associated with selecting the technology solution that underpins your business.

About the author

Steve Alexander is the Managing Director of Purple Shirt, a pragmatic delivery focussed user experience consultancy based in Auckland New Zealand.


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