User Experience and Empathy in Process Transformation


How should process transformation teams gain empathy with users? Director of User Experience, Ivan Kornienko joins Krista to explain the importance.


Krista: Thanks for joining us today. Today we're talking about user experience in process transformation, and we have Ivan Kornienko here with us. Ivan, let's start right off the top. What are common mistakes people are making doing user experience in process transformation?

Ivan Kornienko: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously, whenever building a new solution, you focus on gathering the requirements for the future solution. The business representatives and various folks will have opinions about what those requirements are, but what's often missed is just sitting down with the users and understanding how they use the existing systems. Just gaining that empathy for what their current process entails can be tremendously helpful in building a new one.

Krista: So empathy is missing. How do you suggest compensating for that? What do you suggest process transformation teams really do to gain empathy with their users?

Ivan Kornienko: Yeah, so really the focus should be to just sit with the users, or in some cases, if it might be intrusive based on the job to just follow them directly, just sit in the corner of the room and just observe what they're doing. I can give you an example from a project that we did a couple years back for an oil and gas company. For them, they were replacing a system they had in place for cement slurry testing. It was basically this application that you used inside of a lab, and before the BPM app got in place, it was all paper. They were all writing it down on paper.

Ivan Kornienko: Then the BPM app was going to replace it with iPads, so now on iPads, they're able to enter the test results. As part of that, the requirements were I want to be able to enter test results, but also I want a dashboard to see what is the status of other tests, so I know if there's something running on one of the stations, I know when it finishes, and what it's actually associated with. That was the requirement, and the requirement was basically on my iPad, I could switch to the dashboard, see the status, switch back to my actual test results, and continue entering it.

Ivan Kornienko: Now, the interesting thing is when we visited the lab, we noticed that they had a table set up where they kept all the different paper reports. Right by it, they have a whiteboard, where basically on the whiteboard, they kept track of which tests were running, which tests were running where. If you were picking up a report and running a test, you could just look up at the whiteboard and understand that one station was being used for a specific purpose. Now, of course, if we went with the iPad solution, it would change that workflow. The person would be forced to switch between screens on the iPad. It would create a different approach to it.

Ivan Kornienko: Since we observed this earlier on, we were able to change the requirement slightly, and instead of having the separate dashboard in the view, we just used one of the TVs that they had in the lab to actually display the status of all the tests automatically. They no longer had to go on the whiteboard, change something, update it, but it still displayed the results of all the tests, and it fulfilled the requirements without actually intervening their core workflow.

Krista: It's less about interviewing somebody and saying, "What do you want?" and more about observing them.

Ivan Kornienko: Yeah, absolutely.

Krista: Well, thanks Ivan for joining us. We look forward to hearing more about user experience in process transformation.

Ivan Kornienko: Absolutely.