Use Your UX Project to Clear Out that Business Skeleton in Your Organization’s Closet

You probably have a business process that desperately needs to be improved. You know the one. It has lingered for years, hanging out at the bottom of your priority list, waiting for that mythical time when you can turn your attention to it. It’s likely an overwhelming problem too.

It may have started out small and inconsequential, but it has gotten steadily worse over the years. Maybe you inexplicably use five different CRM systems across five different departments, none of which talk to each other (we mean the CRM platforms don’t talk, although maybe also the departments). Maybe your employee database is horribly out-of-date and untrustworthy. Maybe your mission-critical documents are a jumbled mess that only one person on the compliance team can navigate.

The Trouble With Addressing Complex Business Problems

Whatever the horrible business skeleton you’ve been ignoring, it will be an ordeal to tackle at this point. It will take a force of nature just to get the right people in the room for the first meeting. Then it will be an endless battle to get some of their time they’ve already promised to competing priorities and to-do lists.

So yeah, outdated databases, messy document systems, simple tasks that require multiple applications, and other faulty processes aren’t ideal. But as long as a problem doesn’t bring business to a halt, it doesn’t demand your immediate attention. The issue is, problems like this are insidious. Outdated, inefficient, messy processes become ingrained in everyday business operations. Eventually, we might even resign ourselves to accepting that the issue can never be fixed.

Tackling Business Problems While Improving UX

Don’t despair quite yet. You can address process problems when improving your digital products. Starting a new UX project can be one of the best times to tackle long-ignored business problems head on. Reexamining your digital products can shed light on festering internal issues and help you determine a unifying solution for them.

In fact, UX projects sometimes require that you address an internal problem when it impacts your product’s overall user experience. Often, the issues users have with your site or app directly correlate with an internal process shortcoming. When your customers struggle to find documents in your outdated, hodge-podge document management system or beg for a reliable way to find someone to contact, the negative effect on your business and online reputation demands you take care of the issue. Internal processes and good user experience are often two sides of the same coin.

Don’t Ignore Internal Issues That Impact Your Digital Product

It can be tempting to ignore these internal process issues that raise their ugly heads in the midst of new site, application, or software suite development. After all, you already have a lot going on in the middle of a digital product redesign. Addressing additional business issues can increase project time lines, cause extra headaches, and strain relationships with people in other departments.

But the truth is, as long as any business problems related to your new site or app go unaddressed, it doesn’t matter how great the rest of your UX is. Your new digital product will be limited and diminished. And of course, that process remains a thorn in your side.

Use Your UX Project As a Rally Cry

Here’s the good news: Armed with an official project, official team, official deadline, and official backing from your organization, getting other departments and stakeholders together to work on the problem can be much easier. Instead of begging your peers for more time and effort, you can use the user experience project itself to drive discussions and solutions to business problems.

That’s because now your colleagues have skin in the game on a project that’s going to happen with or without their help. They’ll be much more likely to make time for it because they won’t want the new site or app to launch without their input.

That doesn’t mean it will all be smooth sailing. You’ll still have to go through the planning, meetings, reminder emails, check-ins, feedback, tough conversations, back-and-forths, and all the other hurdles that come when disparate departments work together. But an ongoing UX project that relies on smooth business processes and user satisfaction will help start conversations. In turn, those conversations will lead to better UX decisions. When business processes that affect your digital product work better, you’ll create a more successful digital product and get better return on your UX investment.

Great Effort, Great Reward

You can simultaneously fix poor business processes and develop or redesign a digital product that customers will love using. When you cross a long-lingering internal problem off your to-do list, the resulting improvements will empower your new or existing product. And, as if that alone wouldn’t be worth the effort, getting rid of old, slow-going processes will lead to better internal efficiency and give your team time to tackle the other, greater business projects.

It will take time. It will take work. It will take some grit and nagging. But if you’re relentless about improving internal tools and processes that impact user experience, you can also create powerful, future-proof, usable digital products that enhance other business operations. The long-lasting business benefits will be well, well worth it.

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About truematter

Our team has been doing the real work of user experience since the earliest days of the commercial web. We’re out to make your digital products a whole lot better.

The UX bone’s connected to the internal process bone
The internal process bone’s connect to the decision bone
The decision bone’s connected to the conversation bone
The conversation bone’s connected to the UX bone
Now shake those skeleton bones!

Author: Isabelle Carroll
Editors: @baileysendsword and @ExperienceDean
Graphic: @djosephmachado
Image Source: Etching by or after J. Gamelin, 1778/9. Wellcome Collection. CC BY

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