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Process Optimization
workshop

Problem Statement

Which aspects of a software upgrade are responsible for a process slowdown?

Background

One of the most stressful aspects for impacted academic programs is the enrollment period, which can happen multiple times each year. As one faculty member remarked "During enrollment, the first thing that I do when I get out of bed is check my enrollment." Enrollment decisions are made by faculty, but carried out by a single role: the enrollment manager.


After an upgrade to backend systems and databases, faculty noticed that the enrollment management process was significantly slower than it had been before. Delays in this process can result in students not getting into required courses, potentially delaying their graduation and incurring thousands of dollars in increased debt as well as displacing incoming students.

Business analysis confirmed that enrollment managers had all of the permissions, data and training to succeed in their tasks.

Enrollment managers need efficient tools to effectively process enrollment requests from faculty.


My Roles

  • UX Researcher
  • UX Designer
  • Feature Lead
  •  
Methodologies
  • Contextual inquiry
  • Usability studies
  • Small team co-design sessions
roster management screen

Process

  • Contextual inquiry: Contextual inquiry was conducted with enrollment managers to learn about their needs and constraints.
  • Add users to the team: Three enrollment managers who were familiar with UX methodologies were invited to join the UX effort.
  • Initial usability study: A usability study was conducted to see if and how the upgraded workflows were contributing to the slowdown. The users on the team observed during usability sessions, and give direct input.
  • Redesign: Based on findings, the workflows were redesigned, again with input from the users on the team.
  • Followup usability study: Revised workflows were developed, which were the basis for a followup usability study.
  • Revise reference material: The users on the team helped revise training materials, and were part of the training staff for this feature.
  • Release: Revised workflows were released.
UI sketch

Findings

  • Stressful Position: Enrollment managers are often in a tight spot. Efficient completion of their tasks is essential to good outcomes for the institution, yet the basic job skills required are not complex, and turnover is high. Many enrollment managers wear other hats as well, resulting in frequent interruption of high priority tasks. Still, their integrity and dedication to the institution's mission are remarkably high, and commendable.
  • Diverse User Needs: Given the scale of the software upgrade — the software project team included more than 200 people — many workflow changes were not adequately assessed. This led to negative feelings on the part of a few communities of users, including enrollment managers. Interaction with enrollment managers were tense. Making users part of the redesign effort was an important step in rebuilding trust.
  • Class-Centric Approach: The workflows in the initial software upgrade took a student-centric approach, which required the repeated manual entry of numeric identifiers at many points in the process. The redesign took a class-centric approach, and required entering  identifiers only when necessary. The resulting workload was an average of 70% faster, with much reduced cognitive load.

Outcome

  • Revised workflows
  • 70% process speed increase (estimated average)
  • Reduced cognitive load
  •  
Reflection
  • Users on the Team: Having users on the team was invaluable in rapidly pinpointing troublesome aspects, making design decisions, and conveying the redesign to the affected community of users.
reduced steps