Tapping into the General User Base

by Laura Storjohann on Fri, Sep 26, 2008 @ 02:31 PM

In my discussions with opportunities, customers, and market analysts, conversations normally gravitate around process design innovation, features and functionality, and ease of use in the BPM Suite. While all of these subjects are critical parts of a quality BPMS, I always raise the following question: "What about the general users"?

I wonder if the general users are unappreciated for the value they bring to the BPMS. Rather than the fact that general users are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the efficacy of the business process, I think they are an untapped resource for opinions on process quality.  Think about it....in a large scale implementation of a BPMS, 99% of the usage of the BPMS are the general users. 

As with any application, the goal of the application designer is to provide a straight-forward and effective tool.  The application will certainly be exposed to a QA effort and may even go through user acceptance tests, but from a forward going basis, once the application is live, how is feedback retrieved from the general users?  Does the application designer ever get comprehensive and organized feedback from the user base on which parts of the application work well or do not work well?

From a BPM perspective, I think tapping into the general user base aids to the question "How can the business process be optimized?"  Many of the BPMS applications provide reporting capabilities which report on process and task times, costs associated with using the process, and process and task statuses.  From those reports, process architects can certainly slice and dice information to analyze the results.  But I argue that another aspect in the process optimization phase is seeing the general users actively working with the application, collecting real-time feedback from the general users as they work, and analyzing the feedback.  By collecting and reviewing the raw feedback from the general users, the application designer has an entirely different perspective of how well the application works.

I think all application designers could merit from finding ways to receive direct feedback from users (in fact, I wonder if this is the most effective way to optimize processes?).

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This post was written by Laura Storjohann