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REQUIREMENTS ARE NOT ENOUGH

Human-centered approach in federal government agile development initiatives

The largest and costliest mistakes tend to happen in the earliest stages of the product design process. Almost always, these mistakes are a direct result of not incorporating the needs, behaviors, and desires of the users into every aspect of the design and development of the product.

WHY EMPLOY A HUMAN-CENTERED APPROACH?

Save TIme and Money A Human-Centered approach saves time and money

A human-centered approach saves time and money

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Success is in the eye of the end-users

Image pat attention to the invisable

Pay attention to the invisible

The largest and costliest mistakes tend to happen in the earliest stages of the product design process.

Almost always, these mistakes are a direct result of not incorporating the needs, behaviors, and desires of the users into every aspect of the design and development of the product.

When your stakeholders, end-users, and customers succeed, you succeed.

Understanding and assessing outcomes using their definitions of success helps ensure more durable, lasting adoption of new solutions.

Even with a well designed user interface, the usability of a system is compromised if the underlying architecture and designs do not take users’ concerns into account.

Measure success in users' terms

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TO WHAT EXTENT CAN A PRODUCT BE USED

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BY SPECIFIC USERS

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TO ACHIEVE
SPECIFIC GOALS

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+ With effectiveness
+ With efficiency
+ With satisfaction

CONTEXT OF USE

FUNCTIONAL PROFICIENCY

  • CASE STUDY: Human Factors in Government Enterprise Software Development
    Software requirements alone are never enough to ensure a successful enterprise development project. Humans use those systems. How humans use these systems is affected by their emotions, physical environments, relationships to each other and images of self. One must research the human factors within an enterprise system as closely as you research and define its technical requirements—to avoid costly mistakes later.

    Human-centered design research in government enterprise development

    The Department of Defense Repairables Enterprise Needed Modernization:
    A Department of Defense client (DoD) handles thousands of parts in need of repair or replacement everyday. Some items are inexpensive, while others cost upwards of millions of dollars. No matter the value, they must all travel through the same repairable ecosystem and they must all be accurately tracked and accounted for.

    No matter the value, the paperwork used to track those items travels through the same system. The accuracy of this paperwork ensures timely repairs. Timely repairs ensure military readiness, and enables accurate audits that are required by statute.

    The DoD repairables system has developed organically over the years. New systems were integrated into old systems as new needs arose, and each system needed special software to talk to the older systems. Venders, (both internally and commercially) need software to plug into this labyrinth of databases and systems to accurately induct, repair, and return materials to the DoD.

    Modernizing the DoD Repairables Process:
    The DoD conducted deep research into the technical requirements for the modernization of the repairables system. They knew, technically, what needed to happen. However, they discovered that when implementing these technical solutions, very little changed in the efficiency and accuracy of venders and users of the repairables system. There was no significant improvement within the system.

    Why?—They knew very little about how users actually used the system that was created for them. They knew very little about the successes and failures their users experienced day-in and day-out. What works well, and what does not work well—where and when. So human factor problems and pain-points were not addressed with the technical requirements alone.

    Human-Centered Design Research Uncovers the Human Factors of an Enterprise System:
    Our team conducted in-depth research into the users of the repairables process. Research was conducted during the Corona virus lockdown. We interviewed users and stakeholders of the repairables ecosystem. We mapped out each users’ jobs and reporting needs to the systems’ current state map.

    During synthesis of our interviews we discovered common themes relating to each step in the process. Like most large organizations, people were not aware of what their collogues needed in the pipeline before them and after them. Each group suffered from visibility issues into how they fit within the ecosystem

    What We Discovered:
    A Common Theme of Visibility:

    — Distortion: Language, “We are using different terms for the same thing”
    — Opacity: Unable to see tracking of items through the process
    — Double Vision: Multiple reports created independently for the same items. “People created the same reports, duplicating efforts”
    — Nearsightedness: Inability to easily pull reports of others
    — Blindness: Inability to clearly see vendor performance

    The human-centered research team mapped each of these findings to pain-points within the repairables process to enable users and leadership to visually “see” (make visible) where human/technology factors overlapped (see figure below. Image sanitized to protect client).
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    What we did with our research:
    We created an asynchronous workshop and invited repairables users and stakeholders to brainstorm ideas to increase greater visibility and accuracy within the repairables ecosystem.

    Through a series of short exercises, participants
    1) Brainstormed ideas,
    2) Developed ideas into user stories,
    3) Critiqued user stories, and;
    4) Prioritized those stories for the development backlog.

    A user-centric future-state artifact was created from the research and workshop outputs to ensure current and future development of repairables ecosystem met user needs.
    (see below for sanitized version of future-state document)
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    Lessons Learned:
    1) User requirements are as important to the success of a development process as technical requirements.
    2) Human-centered research practices reveal key insights for how real humans use systems.
    3) The success of a project is measured by the ability of the user to achieve specific goals with the system in an efficient, effective and satisfactory manner.

Systems Architecture is a Human-Centered Design Concern

Invisible issues that affect usability

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QUERIES THAT TAKE TOO LONG

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UNANTICIPATED QUERY RESULTS

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POORLY DESIGNED DISTRIBUTED COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE

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POORLY DESIGNED APPLICATION LOGIC

Okay, so what does a Human-Centered agile approach look like?

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Key Principles of a human-centered deisgn approach

USER FOCUS
The users’ goals, tasks, and needs guide development

ACTIVE USER INVOLVEMENT
Representative users actively participate throughout the development process and system lifecycle

EVOLUTIONARY PROTOTYPE DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT
Development must be iterative and incremental. Early and continuous prototyping

SIMPLE DESIGN REPRESENTATIONS
Designs must be presented in ways that can be easily understood by all stakeholders

EVALUATE USE IN CONTEXT
Baseline usability goals and design criteria should control development

EXPLICIT AND CONSCIOUS DESIGN ACTIVITIES
The development process must contain dedicated design activities

USABILITY CHAMPION
Usability experts must be involved early and continuously throughout the development lifecycle

HOLISTIC DESIGN
All aspects that influence the future use situation should be developed in parallel

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Accenture Federal (FJORD) HCD Research Team
I have the world’s best team of HCD researchers and thinkers. Everyone contributed to this project and as a team, we killed it.

TJ ODonnell: Lead
Benson Anspach: Agile Design Lead
Laura Fortner: HCD Researcher
Jennilyn Gabor: HCD Researcher

Copyright 2020-2021 TJ ODONNELL

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