My organization's top concern before embarking on an implementation of PeopleSoft Campus Solutions was the usability of the application, especially for faculty and advisers. We have several interventions at play here, including membership in the Oracle Usability Advisory Board (OUAB) which I'll be attending next week (another story for another blog) and access to training (one of my analysts attended a full-day UX training before OOW13). One of the key commitments was for the UX Direct team to conduct on-site User Research. This has been referred to as "ethnography" (which always makes me of college anthropology courses) but due to time constraints, we are conducting these now as two-hour interviews. Several seasoned researchers are visiting us in December. The invitation went out early this morning to 31 faculty members. We're not talking about the bush league faculty; I was particularly terrified to email Michael Sandel, whose class was the nadir of my undergraduate career (grade-wise). As I Google'd the c.v.'s of each person on my list I was reminded what an insanely talented faculty we have here. (As this site showcases: http://campaign.harvard.edu) We are using Qualtrics to collect the responses; we will exploit our University-wide contract with Qualtrics as often as survey-ly possible. I received one rebuke earlier this morning (but have been advised not to take it personally). Otherwise, I've filled about half the slots in our first study. While the expert researchers are doing most of the heavy lifting, my crack business analyst team has been assigned to this effort in several critical ways:
Building out the final schedule and logistics
Consolidating information (e.g., profiles) on the final slate of interview subjects
Participating in the interview process to capture meeting notes, assist with identifying theme and adjusting interview scripts day-to-day
Learning the techniques of user interviews so we can extend the model in the future to conduct additional research
It isn't clear what exactly we'll yield from this research. We certainly hope that some of the results will inform Oracle's strategy for improving adviser and faculty self-service in Campus Solutions. But we also know that we will bear much of the burden for enhancing the user experience. Feedback captured in this process may inform parallel efforts such as Identity and Access Management or Learning Management. Or it may suggest business process changes. Or, taking a glass-half-empty perspective for one moment, it may yield nothing more than a few user stories for our backlog. Absolute worst case, it gives us an opportunity to engage critical stakeholders early and ensure their voices guide us into the future.