Methodology

The methodology is effectively adopted by starting with a critical process, which could be a great source of data to be analyzed in an initial project. After applying the methodology at the first time, a procedure is prepared to spread the methodology through other critical and non-critical processes considering the organizational context in other projects.

The core actions to create the network of links can be applied in two main approaches: forward and backward. Figure below depicts the alignment of business processes with UI components following these two approaches, in which the actions of stakeholders are organized in disciplines related to business process management methodologies and User-Centered Design methodologies.

Forward and backward approaches through models

The methodology considers the following knowledge areas or disciplines:

  • Business Analysis is the set of tasks, knowledge, and techniques required to identify business needs and determine solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a systems development component, but may also consist of process improvement or organizational change.
  • Task Analysis is used to analyze the underlying rationale and purpose of what people are doing.
  • Conceptual Design means high-level user interface design regarding the presentation structure that maps to interactive tasks.
  • Interaction Design means designing interactive products to support the way people communicate and interact in their everyday and working lives, aimed for all kinds of technologies, systems and products.
  • Usability Test means testing with real users to obtain direct information about how people use computers and what their exact problems are with the concrete interface being tested.

Forward Approach

In situations where there is a process and there is no system, the forward impact analysis can simulate what could be the future user interaction to execute the process; verify the alignment of the processes with existing interaction; and identify what impact the optimization of processes has on the user interaction.

In the forward approach, business processes go through analysis and improvements can be identified, which may require changes on the business processes during Business Analysis; UI tasks are specified and updated during Task Analysis; UI components are specified and updated during Conceptual Design; and UIs are specified and updated accordingly during Interaction Design.

The core activities of the methodology to guarantee the user interface-business alignment are listed as follows for a scenario application of the forward approach:

  1. Business Analysis
    1. Select representative and critical processes of the organization
    2. Model business processes
    3. Identify systems related with those processes
  2. Task Analysis
    1. Model UI tasks
    2. Map process activities with UI tasks
  3. Conceptual Design
    1. Model user interfaces
    2. Map UI tasks with user interfaces
  4. Interaction Design
    1. Design user interfaces
  5. Impact Analysis
    1. Perform impact analysis and generate strategic information to analyze process performance and user experience

Backward Approach

In situations where there is a system and there is no process, the backward analysis uses navigation patterns in the system as a source of data to exploit business processes. It helps identifying how the improved usability of UIs suggested by systems users (e.g. customers, employees) impacts BPs.

In the backward approach, UIs are analyzed and improvements can be identified, which may require changes on UIs during Usability Test; UI components are specified and updated during Conceptual Design; UI tasks are specified and updated during Task Analysis; and business processes are specified and updated accordingly during Business Analysis.

For a scenario application of the backward approach, the core actions are the following:

  1. Usability Test
    1. Select representative and critical systems of the organization
    2. Observe users working with those systems to identify their tasks
  2. Conceptual Design
    1. Model user interfaces
  3. Task Analysis
    1. Model UI tasks
    2. Map user interfaces with UI tasks
  4. Business Analysis
    1. Model business processes
    2. Map UI tasks with process activities
  5. Impact Analysis
    1. Perform impact analysis and generate strategic information to analyze the process performance and user experience

The methodology can be applied in organizations with minor changes on the way they work, highlighting that the core actions are mandatory to guarantee UI-Business alignment, as depicted in Figure below.

Outline of the method with roles, artifacts and tools

The methodology is flexible enough to enable stakeholders to specify at which level of granularity they will map the elements, depending on the complexity of the processes and systems, on the information available and other aspects that directly influence the impact analysis.

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