Strategic planning multiple transformation priorities

by | Jul 1, 2020

RoleUX & UI Designer, UX Researcher
CategoryDesign Strategy, User Research, User Experience
DateSeptember 2018 – May 2019


This is an ongoing group-enterprise digital transformation programme. All digitalisation efforts within our company were spearheaded by the CEO. Our mission is to streamline cross-business units’ processes, resources and systems to improve customer experience, productivity and profitability. To achieve operational excellence, the team needs to identify inter-opportunities and develop strategic tools that will fill up the missing delivery-opportunity gap.

My Role

I was nominated by my director to embark on this new programme as the sole UX & UI designer. I handled 2 transformation tracks that target the salespeople, delivery people and our customers. The products are 2 web applications (1 mobile-first) that leverage on our internal systems and pull system data from all sources together, presenting smart insights in a higher-level consolidated view.

Each transformation track has 1 Product Owner, 1 external consultant and 1 remote development team. The remaining product team members are shared, comprising of 1 designer (me), 1 project manager, 1 architect and 1 business analyst. We were given 6 months to deliver an MVP for each track.

I spend most of my time conducting research with cross-business units’ business stakeholders. Then, the rest of my time strategising product direction with the Product Owner, creating prototypes and conveying design solution to the developers.

The Process

Project Strategy

The organisation is huge. In order to create an MVP, the team started off with doing ‘just-enough’ research to answer our questions:

  • Who should we onboard?
  • Which problem should we prioritise and solve first?
  • What features or workflows should we proceed to design and develop in our MVP?

Based on our research insights, we identified the primary user groups. Next, we narrowed down to target a specific business unit, select a few pilot projects based on various criteria, then get buy-ins from their respective business stakeholders to onboard the relevant teams.

Requirement Gathering Workshops

I planned and run workshops to gather the requirements below. The Product Owner(s) would help to recruit participants and co-facilitate the sessions with me.

  • Understand the current operational processes, system workflows, pain points and workarounds
  • Capture users’ needs, wishlists and ideation solutions (whenever possible)
  • Capture business stakeholders’ business requirements and business visions
  • Discover the available company templates/resources, reports, data and documentations
  • Learn about the new or upcoming initiatives by other departments and business units, so we can discuss potential collaborations
  • Receive recommendations of other people, projects teams or departments that we should approach for more insights

User Interviews & Focus Groups

It was extremely difficult to schedule a common timeslot for all participants to attend a single workshop. Therefore, I also conducted 1-1 user interviews or small focus groups to gather insights. We even visited some teams’ who were working on-site, to appreciate their daily routine.

An interview guide, some quick interview questions and a research finding deck

Card Sorting & Affinity Mapping

We received all sorts of self-customised reports and documentations from our users (sensitive data is replaced with realistic dummy data). To analyse the collected data, I extracted the important graphs, tables and keywords to run card sorting exercises with the Product Owner.

An example of a card sorting exercise

Concept Development & Prototyping

Sometimes, not all design concepts that I proposed were based on our users’ current way of working. Ultimately, the products that we build should serve as a single source of truth across the organisation for authorised users to perform tasks, track queries, monitor insights and escalate support at any point of need. Thus, there were times when I would receive the direction to standardise some processes to instil discipline, drive mindset and culture change.

Initially, I created prototypes based on user needs and business requirements. However, after a couple of meetings discussing “do we have all the data we need?”, I decided to create separate prototypes with only the available data today, mainly for the development team to code accordingly.

development process— data issues
I worked with the technical team and Product Owner to identify data issues

Design Reviews & Expert Evaluations

Before handing over any design to the development teams, I wanted to validate the impact of our new design concept on the users’ current process. Thus, I proposed running design review sessions with a larger group of users to capture more feedback in a shorter time. We also use this session to onboard different business stakeholders and users. For usability wise, I run informal usability tests and heuristic evaluation with the UX designers from my original department.

Design Specifications

I worked very closely with the business analyst and architect (who also played the role of a local technical lead) to ensure technical feasibility and that our design intent is developed as expected. Since I was working with remote development teams, I tried my best to paint them a clearer picture of “what needed to be done” through detailed documentation.

What I did at each sprint:

  • prepared a design specification deck containing prototype link(s), new/updated UI components, screen states, user scenarios, user tasks, CSS snippets, etc
  • attached relevant mockup screens to each user story in Jira
  • presented the prototype flow to the developers while the technical team updated them on where to extract data from
  • reviewed the development progress in the DEV and SIT environments to minimise rework

The Outcome

The product teams successfully launched our first MVPs in December 2018. Our design solutions were highly praised by the CEO and we were allocated funds to continue the programme.

After the MVP is launched, I am readied to roll-out from the programme. While getting the next designer to onboard the team, I continued to recommend the next scope of work in the ramp-up plan, be it new features or internal system enhancements.

celebrated the launch of our MVPs, group enterprise digital transformation programme - 2018
All product teams celebrated the launch of our MVPs in December 2018 (multiple transformation tracks)

My Learnings

Designing for executive and management levels

This was the first programme that gave me visibility beyond gathering insights and designing interfaces for the working level. As the users are middle management and executive people, I got to hear strategic insights and business visions from their point-of-view. My mockups or prototypes became a tool to kickstart technical feasibility discussions and to plan for internal system enhancements.

Learning on the job

Unlike working with external clients where I could prepare myself by undergoing knowledge transfer (KT) sessions and reading a project contract beforehand, this was the first programme that I did not know what to expect until I spoke directly to the users.

I was the only UX resource in the team, so everyone came to me whenever a design concept is required. Honestly, I felt that if I had a few years of experience designing for middle management users, I could have reduced the review sessions yet be able to produce a better design. Time to time, I validated my approach to a problem with the senior researchers and designers from my original department. I also learned a lot from our programme advisor and external consultants.

Better strategic thinking

Overall, this project was a good opportunity to train my strategic thinking and to familiarise myself with how an organisation operates. My biggest takeaway was a sentence stated by our programme advisor, which I reuse it often whenever there is a need to handle angry users who did not want a change.

“Yes, we have heard your pain. Now, we have transformed some of your negative emotions into new processes, systems or policies in the organisation— which might change your roles and responsibilities.”

The Programme Advisor
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