We are happy to announce that IntraSee will be attending EMEA Alliance 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland on 11-12 October. This conference will be a great opportunity to show our European clients all of our latest advancements in user experience within PeopleSoft. Whether your are interested in how a mix of Classic and Fluid can be made seamless or you are looking to connect your PeopleSoft with other cloud applications, we will have something for you.

We will also be presenting and our session details are below. Our time/day are still to be determined, but will be updated here when ready.

Case Studies: Eradicating Student/Employee Self-Service Frustration

This session will contain primarily live demonstrations of how PeopleSoft clients have solved their user’s frustrations with Self Service. Each case study is using native PeopleTools technology, but producing an experience you would expect from a consumer web site. Topics include mobile, content, self-service, advising, search, academic planning, manager self-service and more. Come check out a user experience your users will love!

Date/Time: Session 2, 11 October at 11:15 to 12:15

Update: our presentation is now posted!

To reserve a time for a personal demo at our booth, just contact us below. We are excited to see you in Scotland!

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At IntraSee we have a passion for implementing solutions that astonish and delight, and we enter each project with absolute confidence that it will be a resounding success. Oftentimes our clients will ask us why we are so sure about what we are doing, and the answer to that is simple: Usability Testing. Over many years we have conducted complex testing and analysis across many organizations and demographics world-wide. Based on those results we have baked that feedback into the things we do and the way we do them. Ultimately it’s the people using the solutions that determine how successful a project actually is. Not the people implementing the solution. You may have hit all your project goals in terms of scope, budget and timeline, but if people don’t like what you did, then the project was a failure.

The perfect example of this was exemplified by the Jurassic Park movies. On paper it was a fantastic idea – who wouldn’t want to visit a dinosaur park?! An earth-shatteringly, brilliant blend of technology and entertainment. Many years went into its development, all designed and built by the best scientific minds on the planet. All they then had to do was open the doors to the general public and reap the rewards of their innovation and genius. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, four movies later (only the first two of which had a remotely credible storyline) we discover that many things could go wrong. A singular lack of usability testing (repeated over and over again), led to the same outcome: failure (well, not box office failure, but you know what we mean). The lesson learned (if indeed it needed to be learned) is that as smart as we think we are, there’s no substitute for having “real people” validate our hypotheses. How you do that we’ll cover in a future blog, but for the time being let’s ponder how Jurassic Park imitates the real-life experience of implementing ERP software – in 10 easy to digest lessons. And, yes, it’s truly scary! Editorial note: Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm) got nearly all the best lines.

  1. Dr. Ian Malcolm: Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming.

All projects begin with general excitement and great anticipation. Kickoff and initial design meetings tend to be stress free and filled with the hope that something great will happen. But what really matters is what happens when the go-live date occurs and your user base starts using the system for real. What you have to avoid at all costs is some kind of horrific reaction. With proper usability testing you can avoid that by learning all the relevant lessons early in the design/development cycle. Even if you are using an Agile methodology, if the only person providing feedback is the product owner, then you’re in big trouble.

  1. Dr. Ian MalcolmYour scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

The common mistake people make when implementing anything is to assume that more features and more stuff = a better chance of making people happy. Usability testing actually tells the opposite tale. What people really want is for you to make things easy for them. And, typically, that entails less things and less stuff.

  1. Sarah Harding: Don’t light that! Dinosaurs pick up scents from miles away. We’re here to observe and document, not interact.
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: Which is a scientific impossibility. Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. What you study, you change.

This is a very true statement – there is no such thing as a perfect usability test. But you can dramatically improve the accuracy by minimizing interference with the subjects tested: such that you don’t end up “leading the witness” to false conclusions. That said, don’t get hung up on creating plans that you’ll never have the time or resources to implement. There’s actually many ways – low-fi and hi-fi – to conduct testing. What you are attempting to do is learn as much as you can, given limited time and resources. Don’t let perfection be your enemy. You may not be able to spend as much time as you’d like conducting usability testing, but you can do something. Be sure to make that a goal.

  1. Nick Van Owen: You seem like you have a shred of common sense, what the hell are you doing here?

Don’t underestimate the power of common sense. Make sure at least one person on the implementation team has it. And, of course, make sure you listen to that person! Many ideas, while great on paper, don’t actually fly with “real people”. So, the more feedback you can get from those kind of people the better. And that can be tough sometimes. Avoid designing a solution that satisfies the needs of the squeakiest wheel.

  1. Dr. Ian Malcolm: Taking dinosaurs off this island is the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas. And I’m gonna be there when you learn that.

The best part of usability testing is that there’s generally just a handful of people to see the results of a bad idea, whereas going live with that bad idea generally involves your entire organization. And that’s not good. Recovering from that impression will cost you more than getting it right the first time.

  1. Sarah Harding: [referring to the T-Rexes] This isn’t hunting, Ian, it’s searching. They’re looking for their infant.
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: Let’s not disappoint them.

It may seem very obvious, but when people start using your ERP system, they generally want to do it in the shortest amount of time possible. They aren’t doing this for the fun of it. And, generally, they don’t even see it as part of their job description. Don’t disappoint them. Your job is to figure out how best to make this a good experience for them. So watch and learn. Observing an actual usability test done well can be massively edifying.

  1. John Hammond: Don’t worry, I’m not making the same mistakes again.
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, you’re making all new ones.

One “popular” alternative to real usability testing is to just roll things out to production, wait for people to start complaining, and then take some of those complaints and turn them into a new set of business requirements, which then get rolled out into a subsequent phase. The quotes are placed around the word popular for a reason. While this technique may be popular with the project team, it’s not quite so popular with everyone else in your organization. All you are doing is churning out a different set of mistakes on a periodic basis. And, usually, at great expense.

  1. Dr. Ian Malcolm: Sarah! Sarah!
    Nick Van Owen: Sarah Harding!
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: How many Sarah’s you think are on this island? Sarah!

When it comes to ERP solutions, less is most definitely more. While you may be able to craft a 1000 word explanation that describes a certain HR policy on a landing page, you would be better advised not to. Make it concise and simple. Usability testing (and common sense) says that the more words there are, the less chance that someone reads them. And what happens in that situation is typically a call to the Help Desk. “Can you please explain the policy for ……”. Calls to the help desk are symptoms of a problem. When was the last time you called amazon.com to get advice on how to buy a book?

  1. Ian Malcolm: Hey, when the adult sees us once again with his baby, uh, isn’t he gonna be like, “You”? You know, there may be some, uh, angry recognition.
    Sarah Harding: Who knows? He may be just happy to see us.

Things that may appear to be minor nuisances to you are, typically, major issues to “real people”. Don’t imagine for a second that they’ll be cool with them, because they won’t. Inconsistent use of fonts, badly worded labels, a mish-mash of navigation options, things not being where they should be, inaccurate search results, data scattered across multiple systems. They may all seem not a big deal to the testing team as they run through test scenarios for the umpteenth time. But try telling that to an already busy manager trying to complete a transaction.

  1. Dr. Ian Malcolm: I’ll be right back. I give you my word.
    Kelly Malcolm: [pounds her fists on the railing] But you *never* keep your word!

The worst thing about never taking “real people” into account when implementing ERP solutions is that eventually you will train people to never trust you. No matter how many times you tell them that the next version will solve all their issues, they’ll never believe it. And they’d be right not to. It’s very rare in life that we stumble across the perfect way to do anything. Only by truly listening and observing can we ever hope to improve the way we do anything. And then, once we think we have learned something, we need to test that hypothesis. And that’s the essence of Usability Testing.

If you would like to talk more about usability in your project, drop us a note and we would love to connect.

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We will once again be at HCM Central at OpenWorld in San Francisco from September 19-21, 2016! HCM Central is the place to be at OpenWorld to get an HCM-focused experience. All HCM sessions and vendors in one place at the Palace Hotel. We will have a pod in the exhibit space showing off our latest solutions in user experience including our Cloud Adapters and Usability Cloud which connect all your cloud apps into a single one-stop HCM experience along with Classic and Fluid PeopleSoft.

We are also excited to announce our OpenWorld session in partnership with Oracle.

Empower Your Employees and Drive Productivity with a Modern Intranet Experience [CON7261]

Wednesday, Sep 21, 12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. @ Moscone West – 2014

Here’s a short video that describes what will be covered in the session:

If you can not make the presentation, just contact us with the button below to setup your personal demo appointment at our booth.

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The following may contain spoilers

Series three of one of our favorite shows, Silicon Valley, recently ended. Not only is this show quite humorous, it often provides a surprisingly accurate portrayal of the software industry.

The overall theme to the season is that a team of brilliant developers are attempting to create and productize a revolutionary piece of software which they call “The Platform”. As expected, the team runs into obstacles at every turn until finally, towards the end of the season, the decision is made, only after getting feedback from beta users, that the platform is ready to be released to the public. The problem is that the beta user population is primarily comprised of their friends in the tech business!

Silicon Valley: Working on the Backend

Gilfoyle and The Platform’s Backend

Immediately, the buzz about the team’s success is on every news channel. The Platform is downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. Everything appears to be going better than anyone could have ever expected. That is, until we find out that while there are half a million downloads in a short period, only a trivial portion of those who downloaded the software are actually using the platform.

As it turns out, people weren’t using the software because they couldn’t figure it out. The users just didn’t get it. And by users, we don’t mean a niche group of techies, but the everyday software user. The developers didn’t find it important to try and understand their users and how they would interact with The Platform. The UX was not even an afterthought. Instead they put all their focus on the UI (User Interface). While The Platform was shiny and new looking, and looked very “cool”, it actually made no sense to the actual person using it.

The Platform was failing.

At IntraSee, this is something that we see every day in Enterprise Applications. An enormous amount of energy is spent building out the backend and creating complex interfaces that address every situation. Often these implementations or upgrades take all the focus. Sometimes there will be some focus on the UI, in the mistaken belief that in having pretty software, you also will have usable software. That rarely is the case (for an explanation of the difference between UI and UX see our article on the difference.

The problem is that real users end up wildly dissatisfied with these applications. The applications are not intuitive. They require thick reference manuals or worse, to sit in classes for hours, just so they can figure out how to accomplish their everyday tasks.

Silicon Valley: Focus Group

Focus group of real users

As we know, art imitates life. No matter how incredible the software platform is, if people can’t use it, you’re just throwing money down the drain.

The UX cannot be an afterthought.

We have seen, time and time again, that putting the user first is the single most important investment that can be made in an application. A great UX leads to much higher adoption rates, which leads to a successful implementation, happy employees and cost savings. All of this builds confidence by your management which leads to funding for the next project.

At IntraSee, we have decades of experience investigating and evolving the UX. We understand how users interact with software and we don’t source our focus groups from our friends in the bay area! We actually travel the world working with real people in real situations. We’re passionate about ensuring that your users just get it.

And when your users just get it, the return on your investment is all but guaranteed. Let us show you what a great UX is so that you can understand what we have known for years:

The UX cannot be an afterthought.

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