Hi. I'm Merry Morse. I am part of the UX team and manage the Users First customer partner program. We created Users First a year ago to fill a big gap - the UX team had not been getting out and seeing our users in their work environments. Without this first-hand exposure, we can't fully understand the "user experience." The good news is that we've seen more customers in the past year than in the past ten. Through our visits, usability sessions, and roundtable discussions, we've gotten to know people in all sorts of roles who take our software to the limit to get their jobs done and use it in ways we can't imagine on our own. Working with customers as we design our products is having a huge impact. And, the more people we talk to, the more common themes emerge. That's what we need to be able to design and build what you need.
While Mary Beth is basking in the Hawaiin sun. I'll take the opportunity as a guest blogger to share some snapshots of people we've met in our travels. All names will be fictitious, but all entries will be about real customers and partners, their goals, and the challenges they face. You'll meet non-technical business users, IT administrators, and developers.
Our first customer is Joe. He's the collaboration manager for MedCareUS, a healthcare organization with over 150,000 employees, serving several million members. Joe's goal over the next two years is to plan and implement the MedCareUS collaboration strategy (a somewhat daunting task!). A big part of that is document management, with these capabilities:
- Personal document space
- Team document collaboration space
- Enterprise document collaboration space
- Easy-to-use: easy navigation, simple task flows, and clear terminology
Joe described collaboration at MedCareUS. He said, "It's daily life. It's everything we do - from writing a simple email to a formal white paper to writing research notes for new medicine we develop, it's doctor-patient exchange, it's the whole process. To initiate acollaboration, someone generates an idea or comes up with a response toa request. Then they do some research, write down some thoughts,collect artifacts of data and eventually share that with others. Thenthe real collaboration kicks in. Right now, email is the hub of thatcollaboration, but it goes beyond that very quickly. If you and I aresharing ideas for something that will become a project, we need tomaintain that data, store it for future use, share it with others, andbring other people in and out of that collaborative experience. Rightnow we use several tools for that, which is very confusing for endusers. If I'm a researcher looking for cure for a disease, I'd use phone, fax,and email. I’d write a 15-page Word document of initial findings andsend it to a few others for review. Or, I’d walk the paper over tosomeone to read it. I‘d collect comments in email, expand the Worddocument until it becomes a 100-page thesis. I’d then convert it to PDFand put in a document store. Domiono.Doc used to be our standard fordoc management, but we now have no standard and are looking for one."
"For a long time, the IT division was not listening to the business. We are starting to now. End users are pushing what we want to do 2 - 3 years ahead of where we are. The medical staff wants and expects high-quality, inexpensive, audio-video available worldwide in every room they walk into. The majority of the medical staff don't carry laptops or PDAs. They use a shared machine for email, and do real-time collaboration on the other side of world or in the next room. They want to be able to show what they’re doing in surgery. If they show a knee operation, they want a camera in the operating room, but they might also have a surgeon in NY giveing instructions realtime while surgery is going on across the country. They don't want to keep the patient under sedation while they fax or email things because that’s a high risk. They want and need this to be highly reliable, high quality, and with high ease of use." Twenty % of their staff are medical professionals (their bread and butter). Eighty % iare the business staff that supports the medical staff, and many like mobility. It costs four times as much per year to keep a user at a desk than working at home. As Joes says, "There’s a huge benefit to letting people work at home and we need to support that."
Joe worries that computers are too confusing and overly complicated for end users. "The big joke is, 'Wasn't the computer supposed to make life easier so we have more time with family and friends? When do we get that? In 3.0?' There's usually so much stuff shoved in front of user that they just don't use it. People say, 'I just want to get my email, send a document, see if someone reviewed it. That's all I need.' Other than that they'll go to a web site and search for something, then leave and go do something else.”
The medical staff doesn't earn money spending time with a computer, they earn money spending time with people. They would like a tool that lets a doctor walks into a room for an exam and their badge logs them in. They type in a patient record and all the information comes up. When they go into an exam they want to do 2 or 3 mouse clicks - no more. They have 15 minutes for each patient and are often double booked. As Joe puts it, "If they have to spend 6 minutes logging into the computer and get their information, it’s the whole appointment."
Mail size and attachments are an issue. They're trying to train users not to send attachments and instead to use a teamroom and have discussion threads and send links to it. But that's too many steps for most users. You have to go to another db, create a new document, attach it, add information, save it, go to Edit Copy as doc link, go back to the email and paste that in. Doctors and nurses say, “No, I'm just going to forward the email. You fix the network and storage problems.” They want to make an Action button in email that says "Start Collaboration," so ideally you could start the collaboration in the Word document instead of having to make it an attachment. You should be able to notify people, have the document put somewhere easy to find, in-line edits, version control - and it needs to be easy for the user. Right now, technology does everything, but it doesn't do it well yet.
What changes would make the biggest difference to MedCareUS? Joe is not sure yet. He needs access to more business users. He laid out a collaboration roadmap, but it’s based on his knowledge of Lotus and IBM and collaboration in general. It’s based on a generic path, which is not necessarily the correct path. They plan to use the next few months to get real usecases. They will talk to business units to find out what they cando from the collaboration standpoint to make their lives better:whether that means to remove software, give them more software, or makethe current software work better. Joe says:
- "Case studies are what we need to do now. Doctors want to help. I wouldlike to do a conference with the doctors. I want toask them how we can make their life better. They say what they want todo, and we will find the functions. That's what would make my job a success."
- "It takes 5 to 10 clicks to put email where it needs to go (and you need to know ahead of time where it needs to go). We want people to just be able to click a button. If you can come up with a solution to take an email or something that generates an idea and makes it into an artifact that's usable by that person, a group, or mass populace, that would be great."
So, what about Joe's situation? Does any of it sound familiar in your line of business?
Have you solved any of the challenges he brings up?
Would anyone be interested in being interviewed for a customer snapshot?
All comments welcome.