Learn the Business Behind the IA Business
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Learn the Business Behind the IA Business

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A talk about understanding Business in order to be a better IA. From the 2012 IA Summit in New Orleans & NYC IxDA Redux 2012

A talk about understanding Business in order to be a better IA. From the 2012 IA Summit in New Orleans & NYC IxDA Redux 2012

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  • How many people here work on projects?\nHow many of you have into as to what projects get assigned and why?\nHow many of you know how projects are created in your organization?\nHow many people know who is funding their project they are currently working on?\nLast question, how many people here want to see IA involved more in all phases of a project and beyond?\n\nToday we have about 45 minutes. Our agenda includes\n* Short introduction\n* Review of our current state\n* Highlight of problems with our current state\n* Proposed solutions to those problems\n* Outcomes from our solutions\n* Conclusion/Wrap up\n\n
  • My name is Lis and I’ll be your captain along our journey today. And, although I am an IA I went to college for something very different. You see, I was a....\n
  • Business Major. That’s right. More specifically I was a Management Information Systems major, and that meant I graduated with a business degree (with a focus on cpus). I took classes in Finance, Business Law, Marketing, and Management. I’ve always been a huge fan of learning about how businesses work. But when I became an IA, it put my business knowledge to the back burner. Instead...\n
  • These things are what I focused on. Doing so was great and very necessary. And, I was happy because I found I was pretty good at this stuff. It was like I had found my home, the profession where I belonged. But, no matter how much I advocated for the user, or for Information Architecture in general no one really cared. It seemed that everyone else was caught up in a different world that looked something like this...\n
  • They talked about things like scope, budget, SOWs, contracts, etc.\n\nI would present some awesome ideas and all I heard back was that is out of Scope, or that’s way outside of our SOWs\n\nIt took me a little while, but when I took a step back from the situation I realized, it wasn’t my ideas that were bad. My ideas were actually pretty good, but my ideas were getting turned down for one reason.\n\n It was at this moment that I realized that my work was all about one thing\n
  • Cash. Ok, maybe not everything is about cash. I mean we are still creatives, and there are other ways to satisfy business needs besides turning a profit, however, a huge amount of what we do is about cash. And once I came to grips with this, I learned some very important lessons from it. Those are what I want to share with you today. \n\nTo begin let’s talk about our current state as IAs (either in house, agency, or indie) that work on any sort of project.\n
  • This is how it generally works. We get a new project. We then do our “magic” and deliver our solution. Obviously this graph is overly simplified but in general this is how we work. Now this could happen in an Agile project or in a Waterfall project, those processes obviously differ to an extent, but currently the majority of our IA/IX focus is on applying the magic and delivering the magical solution. That is where do things like \n
  • Personas, Sketches, Ideation, Concepting, and more. Now hopefully we are involved upfront to an extent but in general this is the crux of our work is. But does anyone here know what happens before and after your magic? is anyone here aware of how your projects come about?\n
  • It actually looks something like this\n\nSee these green sections here before and after the project? There is a lot that goes on to even get a project on the books, or off the ground, before we hit phase 1 or iteration 0.\n\nAlso there is a lot that happens after the project has closed out, and we are mostly oblivious, moved onto the next project , etc. Now, some of us may understand the analytics outcome of the project... we get 100 more users, time through an app goes down by 50%... but what happens to the money being made? Where does it go from there?\n\nMost of us are clueless to these two phases.\n\nWhat we do know, however, is this...\n
  • Boy do we know this. We fight tooth and nail to bring this in. Unfortunately, however, \n
  • This gap in knowledge between IA and Business is the cause of the problems that we are about to discuss.\n\nNow we know our current state... we’re really good at working our magic and understanding project process, but we are unaware of how projects come about in our businesses and what happens to the money that comes in from these projects. So what’s the big deal with that? Well this is the big deal. \n\nThe first problem that comes from this gap in knowledge starts with the fact that we only design for one person....\n
  • The user. That’s right, we are some killer user advocates. \n\nThis seems natural as IA came to be in a time when nobody was thinking about the user, and business people and were seen as anti-user and all business. \n\nBut we forget that there are other parts of our IA work beyond the user....\n
  • We’ll deal with tech complexities another day, but I didn’t feel right leaving it out. \n\nBy not understanding all the things we just went through, we are ignoring one major piece of our jobs the business needs. We have become so wrapped up in the user that we have forgotten that we also need to serve the business in order to meet the product goals. If we are only focusing on the left hand side... how can we call our design solutions truly solutions... they are only solving one half of the puzzle. Would you, as a business person, trust an IA if the user was all they thought about? \n\nThus, I have constructed an intricate model to demonstrate what our user only focused solutions look like. This took me awhile, however I think I’ve come up with something that makes a whole lot of sense. They tend to look at lot like...\n\n\n
  • this here cookie. Not whole, and because it’s not whole, pretty undesirable. \n\nOf course, there are direct everyday issues that we as IAs face from this. \n
  • Because we aren’t designing for there needs... the Business doesn’t buy in to our solutions so we have the never ending cycle of revisions that destroys the intent of your design.\n
  • Next we have the infamous Scope vs. User talks. You know the ones where you fight for a feature because it’s important to the site consistency or experience and you are repeatably told that it’s out of scope?\n
  • How about the blatant lack of respect for what you really do (oh you are here for the wireframes right?). \n
  • Of course, all of this takes a toll on you, the helpless IA. \n\nBut perhaps even equally as important, but more often forgotten is the fact that if we aren’t designing holistically and including business needs, then our solution isn’t doing something very important....\n
  • Making money. And you have been hired to make your company or client more money. Because, remember, you are part of this\n
  • a business that has products that bring in money. \n\nSo that is our first problem, non-holistic solutions that leave out the business and cause us revisions and stress as well as solutions that are less profitable.\n\nBut there is another more broad problem. IA, loses a great deal of credibility. We start to look and sound a lot like this guy\n
  • How many of you want to progress in your jobs, to be better? \n\nWho here think that IA should be involved outside of the projects? How many of you think that IA should have a place here?\n\n\n\n\n
  • Without this respect it is extremely hard for you to progress from IA to strategy to whatever you want to be within your organization or others, and be happy in your career, as well as for IA as a whole to progress with clients and within and organization. \n\nAnd if IA lacking respect stops you from progressing in your career. How can IA as a whole ever get here.\n\nHow then do we bring business needs back into IA thereby, creating holistic designs. Easy. We learn this\n\n\n
  • How our projects get started, paid for, budgeted and scoped in our companies and those of our clients, and what happens to the money from them. \n\nFirst, let’s talk about how it works. How does the money flow through projects in businesses?\n\nWell, lemme break it down for you. Now every company is somewhat different, but in general this is how it works.\n
  • First, there is someone or many someone’s in the company that is directly responsible for a product or service’s revenue. In bigger companies this is the product manager. Maybe it’s the account, business dev or strategy peeps in your agency. But, there is always someone directly in charge or bringing in more cash. These people have certain goals they need to reach in order to create more value.\n\nSome examples of goals include\n
  • They may need to earn money to hire new employees to help with workload. They may need to shift the business from sales reps on the phone to sales online thereby bringing down costs.\n\nSo now that you have some examples, let’s just back...\n
  • So there is a product owner or sponsor or someone who has an overarching need. How do they reach that need? Any guesses?\n
  • That’s right, they fund a project. But it take money to fund a project, you can’t just up and secure resources for work. And before you know how much money to spend you have to know how much money that project might bring in. Know that means determining scope and high level features.\nThat is where our good friends budget and scope come in and why they are so closely adhered to. \n\nThe kindly product manager isn’t going to spend more on a feature if it doesn’t increase their return. Let someone else in the organization pay for it. Remember they are paying for these projects out of their budgets!\n
  • Someone in the business has a need to fulfill and they need more money to do that. In order to get money they have to spend money to create and fund a project. In order to know how much to spend they have to scope the project in order to determine what they will get back on their investment. \n\nBut wait... there’s more! Let’s complete our cycle. So the point of the project is to...\n
  • Make updates to or add on products and services. and we know that the sale or use of our projects and services helps us to... you guessed it...\n
  • Reach the goals and make more $$ or decrease costs or something. \n
  • That is what the outcome from the project is. The company makes money to hire new employees, invent a new feature, put into place more projects for further product enhancements. \n\nHow many of you have thought about your work this way before? It’s pretty different than what they teach us in IA land right. So, how do we even get to a point where we can learn this stuff? How do we learn on the money moves in our projects?\n\nWell luckily I’ve put together this snazzy three step approach for doing that. Step 1:\n
  • Admit that you are a business person. \n\nOk, maybe you’re not a business person, but you are a part of a business that makes money. And you have been hired to make that business even more money. I know this can be hard. We IAs are sensitive souls. We are in this for the good of the user and to make things better and who wants to be these people?? \n\nBut, helping the business is not selling out or going against our users, but is enabling us to do more for them. So after you admit you work for a business... since admittance is always the first step, then it’s on to Step 2\n
  • Knowing your sources. Who on your team knows about the business? \nStakeholders, Sponsors, etc.\nAccount Manager\nProject Manager\nCreative and Art Director\nTech Leads\nSenior teammates?\n\nAnd once you know them\n
  • Be a sponge. Screw it, be an IA... use your sources to answer questions, gather business needs and requirements. Being a sponge is different than interviewing people. As we all know not everyone wants to impart their knowledge on you. You have to be savvier than that. Interview as much as possible but also be attentive and observant to what’s going on around you.\n\nSome of the questions you want to find the answers to are\n
  • Knowing who, what part of the organization is funding the project? Who is the project sponsor? And then ask\n
  • What are their goals? \nWhat are they hoping to get out of the project? Increase revenue? Decrease costs? \nWhere can IA contribute to those goals?\n
  • And lastly, why these goals? Are they trying to hire someone? Do they need funding for a reason in their organization... this process is called understanding...\n
  • Business needs. Understanding business needs is how we begin to design holistically, and include business needs in our solutions. Once we know how this works at a project level..\n\n
  • To advance yourself and ultimately IA as a profession you need to think more strategically. You need to move your spongeness and observation outside of just projects and look at the organization, the industry and your roll in both on the whole. \n\nThis is about understanding the business and the value chain that it is involved in.\n\nTo do that we can apply the same process but our questions change.\n
  • Knowing this will help you to understand who is the political power house. It will also help you to understand who has the money to pay for IA solutions.\n
  • Knowing this will help you to understand barriers to entry to engaging IA groups. Maybe teams don’t have the budget, maybe they aren’t educated, maybe there is bad blood.\n
  • Knowing this helps you to gauge how IA can be effective overall at meeting these innovations, thereby moving IA into the strategy realm. \n
  • Value being both $$ and just overlying improvement. What kind of value are you bringing in? The more you bring the more you will be asked to work on projects... the more people will see the value of IA.\n
  • But wait, if you bring value and money in... shouldn’t money be invested in IA? understanding this money flow even at a high level gives you clarity into how you fit into the organization, where there is room for innovation and IA thinking, and helps you to figure out how IA can help the company get there. All of which makes you pretty freaking valuable to alot of people. \n\nWhat then happens when we begin to implement our solutions\nSo let’s look at the outcomes of our solutions:\n1. Designing holistically\n2. Moving beyond the project $$ movement and into the organization $$ movement\n
  • First thing is first... By learning about the business you truly understand what will make the business successful and can combine that with your knowledge of the user in order to create holistic IA solutions. Your solutions are now desirable to both the user and the business. \n\n
  • You will now find yourself addressing the business as an active member of this solution. You can address question both about the user experience as well as the business benefit. \n\nThis enables the business to trust you to be their advocate and thus they buy into your ideas.\n\n\n
  • \n
  • This then changes our scope/budget conversations from something that sounds like “but we have to have this solutions our personas said so” to something like this “this solution will increase conversation rates and help increase project goals. More budget should be allotted”. \n\n\n\n
  • You and IA as a whole, earn credibility and respect. \n
  • This makes you a lot more happy. \n
  • What does IA being involved outside of the project really equate to for us? Well I would argue it means adding value elsewhere in the company.\n\nEverything that we just talked about involves truly understanding how your company operates and creates value. It’s about understanding the value chain of how products get out the door and that includes projects and everything else in the company... this is what understanding the business is all about. By understanding that value chain, and inserting IA into to add more value (both in projects and beyond) you and IA make your company more successful. \n\nDoing this time and time again shows the company how important IA is to the organization success overall. \n
  • Therefore IA becomes intertwined into company success and into the business instead of being in opposition to it. \n\nIt is only then that we can get to a point where people will involve IA thinking at all phases of the work both project and strategic. It is only when we show how much value we can add that we will be asked to evaluate points along our company’s value chain and find and solve problems within it... there by being involved outside the project. \n\nIt is only at this point when we can find someone with IA thinking sitting here.\n\n\n\n\n\n
  • There was a great article on Johnny Holland earlier this month which noted why user experience was different from customer experience. The biggest difference? We don’t product people who understand complex organizations and can maneuver through them. Understanding how the money moves is the first step in doing just that.\n
  • So, let’s recap what we’ve talked about today. \n
  • We started out by looking at our current state of IA and Business which is that we know only our small world of projects and aren’t aware of how projects are funded, budgeted and more. We saw from this that there is a huge gap between IA knowledge and the knowledge of businesses.\n\n
  • The problems with this gap\n\n
  • The solutions that we talked about including first admitting we working for a business. Then knowing our sources of knowledge around us that can inform us about the business, and being sponges to the sources on our projects. \n\n
  • We then look to extend our sponge knowledge beyond the project to understanding the entire organization and its business.\n\nAnd once we start to understand the money flow at a project level and even an organizational level we become the UX\n\n
  • Ninjas!\n \nNot only are you the user expert, but you also now have a true understanding of the business needs because you understand how the business operates. That’s what learning the money flow is all about! \n\nThis, then, is reflected in your solutions and discussions. Which helps us to decrease revisions, change the user vs scope talks, earn more respect and ultimately make you happier in your work.\n\nBut most importantly by knowing how the money flows, and thus having true insight into business needs and then coupling that with our knowledge of user needs we start to help the company succeed. \n
  • We show that IA is the one resource in the company that not only can create amazing solutions focused on user behavior and expertise but can do that while getting to the root of solving the business need. \n\nBy repeating this process, understanding business needs at a project then company level and using our skills and ths knowledge to make our company more successful we successfully\n
  • intertwine IA into the organizational fold. This is how we get there.\n\nRight now we are there just for the wireframes or only active at a project level, but we haven’t yet shown them the true value of having IA involved in all stages of the workflow, because we haven’t yet grasped how value works in their world.\n\nTo close, remember IAs, if we want it all, the strategy, the design, being involved upfront, input into the process, respect, and more we have to change our knowledge of the world in which we work. Always keep \n\n
  • this in mind. Learn the business behind your business... the profit that you get from it will be unyielding.\n
  • Now... let’s go claim our seat. \n\n
  • \n

Learn the Business Behind the IA Business Learn the Business Behind the IA Business Presentation Transcript

  • It’s Time to Learn theBusiness Behind Our Business NYC IxDA Redux - April 21, 2012
  • Lis Hubert UX Consultant @lishubert www.elisabethhubert.comNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Flow Diagrams Usability Users Needs Sitemaps Personas Card Sorting ConceptingNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Flow Diagrams Scope Budget Usability Vendors Terms Users Needs Contracts Sitemaps ROI Personas Cost Benefit Card Sorting Sponsor Risks Concepting SOWsNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Personas! Concepting! Sketching!NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Sitemaps Flow Diagrams Standards Patterns Users Usability Card Sorting Personas Guidelines Expert Reviews ConceptingNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • The UserNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • User Needs + Business Needs + Tech ComplexitiesNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • RevisionsNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Revisions Business vs. UserNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Revisions Business vs. User Respect for IANYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Revisions Business vs. User Respect for IA YouNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • The SeatNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Increase Revenue Increasing conversion rate of form Decrease Costs Moving sales online vs. phoneNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Step 1NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Step 2NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Step 3NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Who is funding the project?NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • What are their project goals?NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Why these goals?How do they impact the business or product?NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Business Needs Who is funding the project? What are their project goals?Why these goals? How do they impact the business or product?NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • ProjectNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Who in the company has the biggest budget, and why?NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Why aren’t other groups engaging IA & design?NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • What are company interests forinnovation and development this year?NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • How much value does IA and design bring in?NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • How much of that $$ goes back into IA?NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • User Business &NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • RevisionsNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Revisions Business vs. UserNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Revisions Business vs. User Respect for IANYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Revisions Business vs. User Respect for IA YouNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • The SeatNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • RecapNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Problems 1. IA solutions not holistic 2. Lack of credibilityNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Solutions Learn Project money flow! 1. Admit 2. Figure out Sources 3. Be a SpongeNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • “To become more than what we are, we have to learn more than what we know.”NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • NYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012
  • Thanks!! @lishubertNYC IxDA Redux @lishubert April 21, 2012