Jan Laros

A Day in the Life - Procurement at Alliander

User experience (UX) is often seen as synonymous with designing screens. However, one of the topics with the most important things we design for does not have one single pixel: the business process. Our aim is to help our customers sort out their process and then support a process with the best possible interface. 

We recently encountered a case where this rang very true, as we performed a User Experience research for the Procurement department of Alliander, a big utilities company in The Netherlands. In this company they used SAP SRM for creating purchase orders to buy for example construction materials or tools. One of the problems was that the purchase orders included too many mistakes, which led to a lot of manual work to correct this. On the other hand, users were also complaining that creating a purchase order could be a difficult and time consuming task. The gut feeling was that this was caused by the interface.

‘The software is fine, there are just other things that don’t seem to work.’

- SRM User

Instead of directly reviewing the usability of their SRM interface, we started by interviewing three different user groups about their work and how they used SRM. After the interviews we applied a method we call ‘Current Day in the Life’ to structure all the information. In this method we map out the entire end-to-end process from a specific user’s perspective (see image) and highlight all important insights. Next we added an emotional component to the Current Day in the Life, to see if each step was experienced as positive or negative. We were now able to identify the points where the user groups needed to be supported, both by interface changes as well as (minor) tweaks to the processes.

Example of ‘A Day in the Life’ (blurred for company privacy. 

After our research, we presented to the management as well as the users that were interviewed. All in all, the users were very happy to cooperate and were thankful that their input was valued in this way. Most of all, this presentation created a renewed understanding for the different user groups of each other’s challenges and how they could support each other better during the business processes. In addition, the management was glad to receive practical (design) recommendations based on an objective analysis of the current situation, instead of a gut feeling. 

In conclusion, User experience is not only about creating beautifully designed interfaces. By taking the time to truly identify what your users want and do, you will be able to help them become more efficient and satisfied in his work. 

Interested in reading more about our ‘Day in the Life’ services? Check out the following links:

Current Day in the Life

Future Day in the Life