Eliminate Silos and Create a Centralized Funding Source: Step 2 & 3 to UX Success

By Jon Fukuda


There’s a widening gap between what people expect from their online experiences and what both commercial businesses and federal agencies are able to deliver. To further explore the importance of adopting a user-centric approach to designing products—such as mobile, web, computer applications, and information technology (IT) systems—Limina has developed a five-part blog series.

The first blog in the series outlined the top three challenges blocking the path to UX success. The second blog explained what exactly UX is and demonstrated the positive ROI of great UX. The third blog explained the discovery process—first key step to driving operational efficiency through better UX—and the final blog will reveal the remaining steps.

In this, the fourth blog in the series, Limina explores the importance of eliminating silos and creating a centralized funding source to guide global enterprises and federal government agencies on best practices that drive successful operational efficiency through better UX using an Agile methodology.


Step 2: Eliminate Silos

It’s essential early on in a project to get and keep everyone in the organization on the same page. At a time when digital transformation and user experience initiatives demand automated business processes across multiple groups within organizations, getting all stakeholders to work together toward the same goals is important to both moving fast and minimizing risk.

Regardless of the root cause, eliminating information silos must be a top priority because they create strategic blind spots, often leading to redundant and inconsistent work. Informational silos introduce risk because data is stuck within each silo, making it impossible to get a comprehensive 360º view of the consumer or citizen needed for an effective, high-quality and innovative user-centric experience. Not only do silos create inefficiencies internally, but they also show the public a state of disorganization.

Design to overcome the silos
Here’s where UX design and product design combine to cohesively and consistently bridge the silo divide by focusing on the human both outside and inside your organization. UX design is designing for a specific end user (i.e. consumer or citizen) and a specific employee touch point—when an end user needs something from your product or service or when an employee needs to use the system to help the consumer or citizen. A touch point is not a channel such as a website or a call center. It’s a moment in time when the end user interacts with your product or system and you deliberately and thoughtfully design for that interaction.

UX design looks at the holistic journey a human goes on to achieve an outcome via your product or system. End users go through a series of interactions to accomplish a task and finish with their needs met (hopefully). UX is designing for all those micro needs no matter what the touch point and stitching it together to create a cohesive, consistent and positive experience.

Know your users—both inside and outside your organization
Consumers or citizens and employees are two sides of the same coin. Companies spend huge amounts investigating their external user’s experiences yet very few spend the same on understanding the experiences of their internal constituents. The experience you provide your employees through their tools and process directly affects the experience they can then provide for the end user. Subpar tools equal phone calls with consumers and citizens that go like this “Oh…sorry, I can’t help you with that. It’s another part of the system. I’ll transfer you to a person who can help you…please hold,” which of course frustrates the end user.

The key to overcoming silos is to provide a common rallying point for all departments: human beings using your products, your systems, and the staff who support them. This is why it’s vital to conduct user research in the discovery phase. In revealing the pain points, you can design the solution for an improved UX.

Step 3:  Create a centralized funding source

Limina’s approach to creating a centralized funding source is similar to how we design to overcome silos.

UX design examines the holistic journeys that both external end users and internal constituents go through to achieve their tasks using your products and systems. UX shines a light on all of the people, business units, workflows, and systems that cut across boundaries. With this holistic, end-to-end view of the journey, you can clearly see that this is not a user interface issue; it is an entire workflow issue that involves multiple business units.

By deliberately and thoughtfully designing and putting systems in place that help people communicate and collaborate with each other, you can ensure that end users are not directly exposed to internal processes and are never stranded as they unknowingly transition across organizational business units. The UX design ensures that the end user never knows they’re being handed from one business unit to another. For instance, you expect the experience you have on the Marriott hotel website to completely match the phone conversation with reservations. It should be the same experience when you check in at the front desk, the order in-room dining, and checkout. The user doesn’t care that these are completely separate parts of the hotel company. And they shouldn’t have to.

Centralized funding sources are needed to solve these holistic journey problems. Pooling funds together from the multiple business units that are part of the holistic user journey will cause each business unit to have skin in the game, to be part of the consensus building and decision-making process, and help get things done.

The benefits of creating a centralized funding source are plentiful:

  • Better experiences for internal systems users and end users
  • More integrated systems and reduced system redundancies
  • Streamlined workflows (internally for employees and externally for the end user)
  • Improved feedback loop with the end users and internal users
  • Measurable and meaningful performance metrics

Conclusion

Maintaining a focus on both the customer or citizen and internal employees from product inception through deployment and beyond is essential to simplifying complex computer interactions and creating more usable and useful systems to support them.

The steps we discussed to eliminate silos and create a central funding source are part of the array of attributes that sets Limina apart—and that contribute significant value to your organization. We hope these best practices provide food for thought. Interested in discussing their implications in more detail? Leave a comment below or email me at jfukuda@limina.co and we can talk more specifically about your situation.

Watch out for the last blog in this series that will focus on designing with empathy and empowering employee—the final key steps to driving operational efficiency through better UX.  


Read Part 3