For a company like Visma, that is into accounting, it is very pleasing to report that Visma UX for some time now has been in a state of rapid and extensive growth. The expansion consists of visible and concrete numbers as well as a less tangible, but equally important, growth of knowledge and skills. We in the UX team at Visma are proud and very happy to report what is going on in our UX-environment at this point in time. The main goal of this work is of course to deliver products and services that gives our users a more effective and efficient work day. But, it is also to expand our reach further into parts of the user needs that we don’t cover as of today.
Growing the UX-team by increased staffing. The UX team at Visma has grown 60% (from 40 to 65 UX professionals) during a period of three years. Even though this can seem like the most obvious measurement of success, there are more interesting aspects hidden behind these figures.
Empowering the Visma UX offer by changing the distribution and constitution of roles. As you can see from our numbers, a majority of our UX-personnel is focused on the core UX-subjects and tasks (40 persons). In core UX, we include the main ingredients in the UCD-process, such as UX-research and interaction design. We are moving into the realm of service design by expanding our toolbox to include methods and techniques for co-creation and design thinking. In parallel, we are working on methods to strengthen the connection between the UX efforts and Visma’s business goals by business impact mapping and goal-directed design.
In the beginning we were UX-designers/Usability engineers and graphical designers. But now we also have UX-architect’s, managers and front-end developers. By diversifying the UX-family we can serve better. Early in our life-cycle we saw an inefficiency in our work due to the gap between the design work versus the actual development work. This is mainly bridged today by having dedicated front-end developers.
Building a critical mass. We in the Visma UX-team have been quite many for some time now and recently I’ve seen that the economy of scale is kicking in a higher gear. To see what I mean: read the graphs above in more detail. Today. Fewer graphical designers than ever can collaborate with more UX professionals than before. For every 6 graphical designers, we currently have 40 UX-designers. How is this increased efficiency possible? Partly, because most of the design is already produced. Our joint effort in producing design patterns and guidelines has facilitated the new balance between the different competencies in Visma UX. More importantly; this new balance enables us to keep our focus on the stuff that really matters and make a change; the user centered design process at large – not interface standards and aesthetics. To find out more about our journey so far, read about our work with the Visma UX-pyramid – link.
Building up our confidence. Success has a lot to do with confidence. Establishing UX in a traditional engineering and sales centric organisation will certainly challenge your confidence and you need to be persistent. Many successful projects in Visma are due to an increase in a user centered focus. At Visma it has been clear for quite a while that the value Visma UX brings to product design and development is imperative for success. We still have several legacy systems to update, and challenges in having UX across the board, but we are proud to say that most of the systems being touched by Visma UX make end users perform better!
Achieving an equal work environment. Software development is traditionally a male dominant field. In the UX-environment at Visma we are 55% male and 45% women. When we started, these numbers were closer to 70% vs 30%. We believe a more gender neutral distribution makes for a better work climate but also enables us to incorporate a better balance in how we translate our user intelligence to actual solutions. And, it’s a general goal of ours to have a diversified working place in order to harness the benefits and values of the different perspectives and experiences.
Constantly growing our toolbox. When we first started to carry out UX-related activities at Visma, most of our time was spent on establishing a graphical profile, clean up interfaces suffering from misalignments and clutter, to identify which standards were consistently violated, and, of course, to produce interaction design. Through hard and intense work for the last years, we have managed to switch focus from reactive rescue actions to proactive UX work. At the core of our current activities, you will always find the User Centered Design (UCD) process.
In an agile and iterative work flow, we make sure that we have access to proper user intelligence from analysing the problem state and defining the scope of the problem at hand. Based on UX-intelligence and proper analysis we create concepts and prototypes on which we perform continuous testing. It is not always easy doing this in a traditional engineering centric organisation that is heavily sales driven. But I would say that we have succeeded. And now we are – like most other UX-aware people – grasping further. We are currently investigating the service design perspective and exploring ways to demonstrate the connection between our work with visible business impact.
Gaining a reputation as a great place to work. Our toolbox is growing bigger also by the many more talented UX-people who are seeking their way to us. People with practical experience from design thinking, service design, business impact mapping and other valuable methods recognize Visma as an employer with a long-term, growing and solid focus on UX that want to make a difference.
I can go on. But it’s quite clear by this that Visma UX is growing, an all accounts.