Designing the HCM Person Gallery and Portrait User Experience
By Applications User Experience on Sep 12, 2011
Sally Baggett, Principal Interaction Designer
As a designer in the Oracle Fusion Applications User Experience group, I’ve often been asked, “How, exactly, do you come up with a new design?” I’m always tempted to say, “Well, I wave my magic design wand and voila, an unusable application transforms itself into a fresh innovative design that is both appealing and easy to use!” The truth is that I do not sit alone in an office with a sketch book and colored pencils or suddenly come up with a bright idea on my drive to work one day, but rather the role I play is just one aspect of the larger design process that involves several people collaborating. Innovative design involves careful research and solid design principles; it involves wireframes and prototypes that are not done once, but several times over the course of a year or sometimes longer; it involves product managers, strategists, designers, and usability engineers; and most importantly, it involves our customers. In the end, innovative design is magic, but not because of any special wands or creative fairy dust or one really innovative designer. Innovative design is magic because we’ve all come together in the name of good design to produce a quality product that makes work life easier and more productive for our customers.
How We Got There
Of course the design process begins with the customers. Back in 2007, a group of usability engineers embarked on a series of customer site visits in order to learn as much as they could about how employees and line managers use our software.
What We Discovered
After collecting data from the site visits, several themes began to emerge around the way employees and managers work:
- The current way of working meant that users had to log in to various systems to get information about themselves and the people they worked with.
- Communicating and discussing ideas around projects was done in an ad hoc manner; customers wanted a more integrated approach that could be included in the application.
- Customers liked keeping track of what their coworkers were up to.
- Managers wanted to simply go to a directory and get all the information that they needed about a person, without having to log in to another system or open another page.
- Managers and employees were frustrated when they had to create profiles on each system that they used. They wanted a common profile that included all the information that they used in their daily work.
- In general, customers were frustrated when they had to go to a bunch of different systems to get what they wanted.
The Design Goals
Based on the feedback, it became clear that what customers really wanted was a human capital management (HCM) self-service application that unified all aspects of a person in one place. Customers were tired of wasting time navigating to and from different sources. At the same time, they wanted the information to be organized so that it was not overwhelming.
Some of our design goals were based on the customer site visits. Here is some of the feedback we received:
- Make design role based. If you are a manager looking at your own employee, show me what is important to me as a manager. If I’m looking at a coworker, give me just the basics.
- Design beyond static human resources information. The HCM experience is not just about manager and employee self service, but can include career planning, development and growth, project plans, and work documents.
- Include networking features such as ad hoc feedback (kudos) and people connections that enable coworkers to connect outside the formal organization structure.
- Make all features available in one place.
- Limit the need for navigation.
- Bring all this relevant information into the context of my daily tasks.
The End Result
Figure 1. Person Gallery Portrait, part of the user experience for Fusion HCM Applications.
The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and so far, our customers have been happy with all the hard work that’s gone in to our next generation of HCM self-service applications (figure 1). Our applications are, of course, still evolving and changing as we continue to improve the design and learn from our customers.