To everything there is a product
Time is finite (duh). With current standards of technology expectations have been set on how long things should take. The more efficient we are with mundane tasks the more time we can spend doing things we enjoy. This was NOT the state of things for our employees who needed to convert client's documents and import them into our system.
We also needed to be able to create documents that could be consumed on multiple devices. This was a major shift in thinking for this industry. There would need to be care and consideration in how we rolled this out. This also meant we needed to get the legal department involved.
To accomodate those included in this decision, the classic sprint process needed to be adapted to fit into everyone's timetables.
A time to break down
In order to know how to best improve this workflow, we first needed to understand the current workflow and who interacted with it. By gathering those who knew the process best we were able to separate users into three groups.
After the user-groups were identified, we pinned down the primary benefit of an improved workflow for each one. We also planned on who to test our solutions with in each group. This helped set a great foundation for a lot of decisions to follow.
A time to build up
Here's where things get interesting. We wrote down each user and put their end-goal on the opposite side of the board. Then we wrote down each step of how they got there inbetween the two. These steps were generic enough to not expose current functionality. This brought in my favorite part of any process: group participation!
Everyone was armed with a pad of sticky-notes and a pen. Their goal was to write down how the process could be improved in each step. This was CRUCIAL in my understanding of the product. I was easily the least educated on the product and this helped me depend on their history and knowledge of how things could improve.
A time to gain, a time to lose
See that little caped figure in the corner? This idea came to me while I was reading The User’s Journey by Donna Lichaw. A line stood out to me about making the user feel like a superhero. While I didn't agree with everything in the book, this sounded like a great idea. To help emphasize this point, I drew that cute little dude to help remind people. What could we add to make the user feel like they were super? What could we take away?
A time to rend, a time to sew
With this newfound knowledge I was ready to take some in-progess patterns and create new ones to develop the right solution. This took a lot of back-and-forth between the product owners and implementation specialists (the ones who do the dirty work) to help me understand true intent. At times it was easy to slip back into old ways, but this assisted in helping me gain a true understanding.
During all of this I focused on two words: flexibility and style. The product needed to adapt to hundreds of clients while still promoting consistent styles throughout. These styles also needed to persist at different breakpoints which the user was able to see at any time. A lot of the flexibility came from the use of many elements which could be added to create the desired document. The challenge came from making sure we had enough elements to cover our bases.
A time to gather stones together
The next step for this was user testing. Unfortunately this project was pushed off for about a year or so. So that's fun...