#Banking #Change #Management through #Human #Centred #Design #HCD

There has been massive change management taking place across all sectors of British banking over the last three years. Much of this is driven by buy outs and mergers, some by efficiencies and a little more recently through questioning the nature and controls around risk management.

However simply changing the owner has caused major problems in these banks as their competitive advantage and therefore their value has been an amalgam of very different skilled people, internal processes and market penetration from the bank or group buying them. These internal processes have often evolved in a highly organic method through acquisition and proven delivery often driven by individual people. However once this people based relationship is broken and these processes are exposed to a wider audience they pose serious questions in relation to risk management, value and the continuance of revenue flow.

The standard process applied has been to pass these processes over at division level to change program managers, at department level to business analysts to define the scope of the current structure. After definition many of these process based activities are passed over to information technology to resolve. I remember being taught at University (Napier, Edinburgh) that technology should never be used as a substitute to sound business process; however this technology determinant does not seem to have been passed on to banking business people. While not the best starting point, people who work in technology do tend to ask the right questions, to define epic requirements, even when it’s unpopular with the business.

Information technology analysts take these epic requirements and define an A to Z system ‘what it does’. However to get the B to Y user requirements (or stories), a user centred design analyst, ux research and designer spends time with the users to define ‘how it works’. This may seem obvious to digital practitioners outside banking, but it’s a revelation to those inside banking and banking technology, that users who normally find ways around poor software are able to define the requirements that turn a useful application into a killer application.

This is not really the end, more a beginning, if other sectors can learn from banking, that users (not stakeholders, usually no longer active users) can determine the overall success of software. And that user centred design (UCD) can assure and amplify competitive advantage if underwritten by skilled practitioners, then the possibility of success is significantly raised in all software and change programs.

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Ask #customers not #stakeholders

Ask users not stakeholders

The most common problem with UX is based upon a limitation on research set by the clients themselves and the perception that they know ‘their users’. Clients will often reduce or not pay for UX research, but this is like leaving out a building foundation because no one sees it. Research takes many forms each of which adds huge value to the final user experience, while it is possible to fake good experience based upon other technologies the problem is that this will lose the clients competitive advantage and cause users to link this experience to similar ones in a way that opens user choice to alternatives.

Who has the answers?

“But even Amazon has only got part of the picture. Like real world shops, they can only record the sales they actually make. What about the sales they don’t make and don’t know that they haven’t made because they haven’t made them?” Douglas AdamsThe Salmon of Doubt” by Permission of Pan Macmillan

Quite succinct really ! and that’s the problem, how can you quantify what has not happened. With web metrics, head counts, ratios of this or that you might say.

User Experience Research answers the question Why have we not made the Sale? through the only people equipped to answer the question, Consumers.

User Experience is not market research but more a problem solving method that offers solutions by finding the right questions and asking the right people.

There are right people to ask?

This may sound a little Adamsesque (if you ask the answer to life, the universe and everything you get 42) but getting the questions wrong in user experience causes research to fail at the same point and the project to flounder.

While it may be reasonably expected by a seller to directly ask, why didn’t a visitor become a buyer or register. Visitors may be asking themselves where am I? what does this do? this does not make sense, should that be happening? technology, why do I bother? Why has my screen gone pink?

A visitors experience is not only defined by the online environment but they bring past experiences, desires and doubts about their current experience. Without these insights it is difficult for designers and clients to grasp potential problems, gain a good return upon their investment or break into a new market sector.

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