Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is an American supplier of analytical instruments, life sciences solutions, specialty diagnostics, laboratory, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology services. Based in Waltham, Massachusetts, Thermo Fisher was formed by merging Thermo Electron and Fisher Scientific in 2006.
As the UX Design Product Leader for the Digital Front Office Experience Team, I lead product design team from end to end for my product area as well as communicating with stakeholders to ensure alignment, visualize concepts, and create design strategy. In addition, I facilitated Design Thinking workshops focused on project discovery and user analysis for new project initiatives while mentoring junior designers in UX best practices.
Digital Front Office
Transforming Employee Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction
The Digital Front Office suite is an innovative browser-based collection of business applications designed specifically for employees who are on the front lines of customer service. This innovative suite enables staff to swiftly navigate customer orders and resolve issues without the constraints of traditional mainframe systems.
- User-Friendly Interface: With its intuitive design, the Digital Front Office suite allows for quick adoption and minimal training, ensuring that employees can focus on what they do best—serving the customer.
- Seamless Integration: The suite is engineered to work harmoniously with existing business processes, providing a bridge between modern efficiency and established practices.
- Empowered Employees: By eliminating the complexity of outdated systems, employees are free to utilize their problem-solving skills and creativity to better serve the customers.
- Increased Productivity: Streamline operations and reduce the time spent on navigating clunky mainframe interfaces.
- Enhanced Accuracy: Minimize errors with a system that's designed to support the employee's workflow and decision-making.
- Cost Efficiency: Reduce training costs and decrease turnover with a system that's easy to learn and use.
- Real-Time Resolution: Empower customer service representatives to address and resolve customer issues in real time, leading to improved customer experiences and enhanced satisfaction.
Enhance the Efficiency of Customer Service Representatives
Improve the Customer Experience by reducing processing times
Launch the Case Management Solution Within an Aggressive Timeline
- Interdisciplinary Collaboration: The project team was an internationally distributed diverse group of over 100 professionals drawn from IT, Product Management, UX Design, Business, and the C-level suite. This rich mix of expertise fostered a holistic approach to product development, ensuring that all aspects of the product lifecycle were considered and addressed.
- Agile Methodology within SAFe Framework: The team operated under the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), which provided a structured approach to scaling Agile practices across such a large team. This allowed for coordinated planning, iterative development, regular reviews, and adaptation to changes, which was crucial given the ambitious timeline.
- SWAT Teams for Rapid Solutioning: Recognizing the need for swift and decisive action to meet aggressive timelines, we formed specialized SWAT teams within the project. These teams, composed of cross-disciplinary experts, were dedicated to rapid solutioning—quickly assembling to tackle urgent and complex challenges that arose during development. Their mandate was to devise effective solutions in real time, ensuring that the project stayed on track without sacrificing quality or performance. This approach was instrumental in navigating the project's ambitious schedule and delivering the product to market efficiently.
AGILE - 2-WEEK SPRINTS / 39 WEEKS TOTAL = FOUNDATION RELEASE
|1||Ability to create a case within DFO|
|2||Ability to create a Case Management Case, view the details of a case met case, and manage case visibility|
|3||Integration with Salesforce and Genesys, advanced features such as case alerts and non-DFO user business partner interactions|
The case management application development lifecycle from the ground up to the first release was divided into three phases:
Phase 1: This phase implemented the core functionality of the application, which was the ability to create a case within Digital Front Office.
Phase 2: This phase built on the foundation laid in Phase 1 by adding additional features and functionality, such as the ability to create a Case Management Case, view the details of a case on the case card, and manage case visibility.
Phase 3: This phase integrated the case management application with other systems and applications, such as Salesforce and Genesys. Additionally, Phase 3 implemented advanced features such as case alerts and non-DFO user business partner interactions.
The three-phase approach allowed the development team to focus on the most important features first and deliver a working product to users as quickly as possible. It also allowed the team to gather feedback from users and make necessary adjustments to the product before releasing the final version.
Here is a table that summarizes the key features and functionality implemented in each phase:
DESIGN THINKING - UNDERSTANDING THE ISSUES
Scope: Navigating Challenges and Leading with Vision
The onset of the case management project presented a unique set of challenges. Most notably, the departure of the initial Product Manager left a significant gap in leadership at the project's critical early stages. Furthermore, there was a lack of clear scope definition and documentation from upper management and stakeholders. The directive was straightforward yet daunting: develop a case management solution that meets their needs but without a defined roadmap or parameters.
Stepping into a Dual Role
In response to these challenges, I assumed a dual role, acting not only as the UX Design Lead but also stepping into the shoes of a Product Manager. This involved taking on the responsibility of defining the project's vision and scope. Recognizing the need for alignment and clarity, I initiated and led several Discovery Workshops. These sessions were instrumental in aligning the team and stakeholders on the value and scope of the project, effectively setting a direction in the absence of formal leadership.
Transition and Continued Challenges
The arrival of the new Product Manager, who transferred from a different department and was new to product management and UX, introduced a different set of challenges. It required me to play a pivotal role in bridging her transition into the project, ensuring continuity, and maintaining the momentum we had built.
Managing an Aggressive Timeline
Compounding these challenges was the aggressive timeline set for the project, coupled with a finite number of story points. This constraint demanded a high level of efficiency and adaptability from the entire team. The level of effort required was often unclear, as project leaders iterated on the product roadmap in real-time, rather than having a predefined path. This dynamic environment necessitated a flexible approach, quick decision-making, and continuous alignment with evolving project goals.
Overcoming and Succeeding
Despite these hurdles, our team demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability. By embracing a flexible and iterative approach, we successfully navigated the shifting landscape of the project. The experience underscored the importance of leadership, clear communication, and the ability to adapt in the face of uncertainty.
- We used Miro extensively to facilitate whiteboarding sessions, store ideation, and present findings to key stakeholders.
- All research was performed leveraging Dovetail, and we conducted both quantitative and qualitative user testing and usability testing to understand what users wanted and how to match that with business requirements
- Figma was a great tool to help us keep moving. We had our own design system and Design Ops UX SME, which gave us that speedy advantage.
- When it was time to test our ideas I worked closely with UX engineers to develop a fully-functional UX prototype in Axure, which we used to in subsequent user testing sessions.
- The entire project was managed using Jira and our product backlog.
The approach I took was to utilize Design Thinking and Luma recipes so that we could better understand the mental model of our users, ideate a new solution, and test whether or not it was the best possible option for the overall user experience.
As mentioned previously, I also wore a Project Manager hat when necessary, filling in the gaps when the roadmap lacked vision or consideration for common best practices in enterprise case management.
Step One: Empathize
DESIGN THINKING - UNDERSTANDING THE ISSUES
Focus on Aligning for Value
Design Thinking Workshop
Over two transformative days at our Pittsburgh office, the Digital Front Office Leadership team and key business stakeholders convened for a Design Thinking workshop, which I co-facilitated. Our agenda was meticulously crafted to address the multifaceted challenges faced by our customer service representatives (CSRs) and to align our project goals with their needs.
Day 2: Ideation and Consensus Building
The second day was dedicated to deeper analysis and consensus building. We employed Affinity Mapping to organize and synthesize the insights gathered. This visual method helped us identify patterns and themes in our data, leading to a more nuanced understanding of the CSRs' mental models and workflow challenges.
The Importance/Difficulty Matrix was another key activity. By plotting tasks based on their importance and difficulty, we were able to prioritize features and functionalities for the case management system, ensuring that we addressed the most critical and impactful areas first.
Key Insights and Their Impact
Each activity brought forth valuable insights. For instance, Affinity Mapping revealed a significant need for streamlined communication channels, while the Importance/Difficulty Matrix underscored the necessity for an intuitive user interface.
Connecting Insights to Project Goals
These insights directly influenced the design of our case management system. Understanding the CSRs' mental models informed our approach to the system's user interface, ensuring it was intuitive and aligned with their workflows. The prioritization gleaned from the matrix guided our feature development, ensuring that we focused on high-impact functionalities.
Reflecting on the Workshop's Impact
This workshop was more than just a series of activities; it was a pivotal moment in aligning our team and stakeholders with the project's vision. The consensus built here was not just about agreeing on features; it was about unifying our understanding of the CSRs' needs and how we could best address them.
Step Two: Define
Framing the Problem
The Challenge with Digital Front Office
While the Digital Front Office suite marked a significant leap in streamlining customer service operations at Thermo Fisher Scientific, it was not without its limitations. The primary challenge lay in the suite's inability to facilitate simultaneous collaboration among specialists from various departments. Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) found themselves in a bind, having to navigate through multiple channels to seek assistance from other functional areas. For instance, a simple stock check request to the warehouse could turn into a time-consuming task, impeding the efficiency of resolving customer issues.
Manual Information Retrieval
Another significant hurdle was the manual retrieval of account-related information. CSRs had to sift through the Digital Front Office manually to gather necessary customer details, a process that was both time-consuming and prone to errors. This method of information retrieval was not only inefficient but also detracted from the overall user experience, both for the CSRs and the customers they served.
Case Management Solution Key Features
Introducing the Case Management Solution
The introduction of the case management system was a game-changer in addressing these challenges. At the heart of this solution was the innovative 'case card' concept. This feature provided CSRs with a comprehensive view of all customer-related information in one place. It streamlined the information retrieval process, significantly reducing the time and effort required to access essential data.
Enhanced Interdepartmental Collaboration
Moreover, the case management system revolutionized the way CSRs interacted with other departments. With the ability to tag departments and send messages or help requests directly within the system, CSRs could now engage multiple departments simultaneously. This feature not only expedited the resolution process but also fostered a more collaborative and efficient work environment.
The implementation of the case management system effectively bridged the gaps in the Digital Front Office suite. It enhanced the efficiency of CSRs, improved the customer experience by reducing processing times, and fostered a more collaborative and user-friendly work environment. This solution was a testament to the power of user-centered design in transforming business operations and customer service experiences.
Leveraging Best Practices for Case Management Design
- Intuitive User Experience: The system is user-friendly, minimizing the learning curve for customer service representatives and other stakeholders.
- Flexibility and Scalability: It is also adaptable to handle varying case complexities and scalable to meet the growing needs of the business.
- Automation of Routine Tasks: Automating standard procedures within the system frees up human resources to focus on more complex, value-added activities.
- Integration Capabilities: Seamless integration with other business applications and data sources is crucial for providing a comprehensive view of the customer's profile and history.
- Security and Compliance: Ensuring that the system adheres to data protection regulations and industry standards is paramount to maintaining customer trust and safeguarding sensitive information.
Step Three - Ideation
DESIGN THINKING - EXPLORATION
Ideate New Possibilities
Sketches of Base UX Concepts
Refining Ideas with Wireframes
Ideation: From Concept to High-Fidelity Design
The ideation phase began with leveraging the insights gained from our Design Thinking workshops. I started by translating these insights into rough sketches, capturing initial concepts for the new product. These sketches were the first step in visualizing the potential solutions and served as a foundation for further development.
The next step involved handing off my initial concepts to a UX designer I led on my team. Their task was to flesh out these ideas into more detailed wireframes. This collaborative effort was crucial in extending and refining the initial concepts. The wireframes served as a blueprint for the product's design, outlining the basic structure and functionality.
Regular Team Check-Ins and Reviews
Throughout the wireframing process, we maintained regular check-ins and review sessions with the project team. These meetings were essential for gaining consensus and alignment on the user experience goals. They provided an opportunity for feedback and ensured that the evolving designs remained aligned with the project's objectives and user needs.
Transition to High-Fidelity Mockups
Once the wireframes were established and agreed upon, we moved on to creating high-fidelity mockups using our design system in Figma. This stage brought our concepts to life, adding visual elements and detailed interactions to the designs. The high-fidelity mockups were instrumental in providing a more realistic view of the final product.
Iterative Process Aligned with Project Scope
Similar to the development of user flows, the creation of high-fidelity mockups was an iterative process. It matched the evolving scope and roadmap of the project, adapting to the feedback and requirements that emerged over time. This iterative approach ensured that our designs were both responsive to the project's needs and aligned with the aggressive timeline.
Impact on the Project
The ideation phase, from initial sketches to high-fidelity mockups, played a pivotal role in shaping the case management system. It was a process marked by collaboration, adaptability, and a constant focus on aligning design with user needs and project goals.
User Flows: Designing for Integration and Collaboration
Initial Architecture and Integration
The foundation of our user flow design began with crafting the architecture for the new case management system. This actually began at the Design Thinking workshop in Pittsburg at the beginning of the project. This involved a meticulous process of understanding and integrating the standard workflows of partnering functional areas. The goal was to ensure that these workflows seamlessly intersected with the new system, enhancing efficiency and user experience.
Collaborative Systems Integration
A critical aspect of the user flows was visualizing the system integrations with key platforms: Genesys, ODS database, Outsystems, and Salesforce. My collaboration with the System Architect was instrumental in this process. Together, we mapped out how these disparate systems would not only connect with our case management system but also how they would interact with each other to create a cohesive ecosystem.
The development of these user flows was not a one-time effort; it was an ongoing, iterative process that evolved as the project matured. Each phase of the project brought new insights and requirements, necessitating continuous refinement of the user flows. This iterative approach ensured that the flows remained relevant and aligned with the project's evolving needs.
Invaluable Aid in Solutioning Sessions
These user flows proved to be invaluable tools during solutioning sessions with the project team. They served as visual aids that facilitated discussions, helping to clarify complex processes and integrations. The flows enabled team members from various departments to visualize their part in the system and understand how their workflows integrated with the overall architecture.
Impact on the Project
The comprehensive user flows were more than just design artifacts; they were a cornerstone of our project's success. They provided clarity and direction, aiding in decision-making and ensuring that all team members were aligned in their understanding of the system's functionality and goals.
Step Four - Prototyping Ideas
DESIGN THINKING - EXPLORATION
Prepare for Testing
Early Prototypes Bring Ideas to Life
Embracing Experimentation, Validation & Alignment
A pivotal step in the design process was aligning our design concepts with the expectations of project leaders and stakeholders. This process involved crafting early design prototypes in Axure RP Pro, which served as tangible representations of our envisioned user experience. These prototypes were instrumental in facilitating clear and effective communication with the project's key decision-makers, allowing me to demonstrate the practicality and potential impact of our design ideas.
Step Five - User Testing
DESIGN THINKING - MATERIALIZE
User Experience Validation
Following the successful alignment with project stakeholders on the product direction and vision for the case management solution, our focus shifted to validating and refining our design concepts through rigorous usability testing.
The methods we used were threefold:
- Contextual Inquiry
- Qualitative User Testing
- Concept Testing
Reference NNgroup.com UX research methods for a more comprehensive explanation.
To this end, we developed a high-fidelity prototype using Figma, which served as a critical tool for our usability studies. This prototype was designed to mirror the intended final product, enabling us to conduct comprehensive tests on the core design elements.
Key functionality and concepts tested were:
- Creating new cases
- Browsing existing cases
- Overall navigation schema
- Intuitiveness and efficiency of our proposed mental models.
The usability testing phase was instrumental in identifying areas for improvement, ensuring that our design not only met but exceeded user expectations and requirements. This process was pivotal in refining our UX strategies, ultimately leading to a more user-centric and effective design for the Digital Front Office suite.
DESIGN THINKING - IMPLEMENTATION
Implementation & Results
The implementation of the Digital Front Office Case Management marked a significant milestone in enhancing customer service operations. The introduction of key features, such as the light modular user interface and the integration with Genesys, revolutionized the way customer service was delivered. The case card system, accessible with a single click, brought all customer-related information into one intuitive interface, streamlining the process for customer service agents.
This integration not only reduced steps in case creation but also increased efficiency by providing immediate context. The ability for agents to upload files, make case comments, tag specialists, and track comprehensive case histories fostered a collaborative environment across departments. The dynamic case status system further engaged teams like sales when their intervention was crucial, ensuring a more responsive and customer-centric service.
These implementations led to a significant improvement in user satisfaction, demonstrating the power of user-centered design in transforming business operations. The project was not just a testament to innovative design but also to the adaptability and resilience of the team in the face of challenges, underscoring the importance of leadership, clear communication, and a flexible, iterative approach to achieving successful project outcomes.
PRODUCT DETAILS - IMPLEMENTATION
We introduced several key features that significantly enhanced the user experience and operational efficiency.
We introduced several key features that significantly enhanced the user experience and operational efficiency.
- A standout feature was the light, modular user interface, which seamlessly overlaid the main application.
- This case card interface was accessible with just a single click of the floating action button (FAB), ensuring that critical functions were always readily available yet unobtrusive.
- Integration was with Genesys, the telephony application. This integration streamlined the customer service process; when customers called, Genesys recognized their identity, providing customer service agents with immediate context for case creation, thereby reducing steps and increasing efficiency.
- The case card presents all information in the context of the user's customer account, including direct links to previous orders and account details.
- Agents are empowered to upload files, case comments, and have the ability to tag specialists from other departments, fostering cross-functional collaboration.
- A comprehensive case history feature ensures that any team member can track the progress of a case at any time.
- Dynamic case status system, allowing users to change the status, such as from 'Waiting on Customer Service' to 'Waiting on Sales.' This feature not only kept all relevant parties informed but also actively engaged the sales team when their intervention was necessary to resolve customer issues. These features collectively contributed to a more intuitive, efficient, and collaborative customer service environment
PROJECT OUTCOMES - IMPACT
- User Transition Rate:
- Baseline number of Mainframe users: 2768 Users.
- Projected goal by Q2 2024: 80% of MF Users transitioned, which is 2214 users.
- System Adoption Rates:
- Actual numbers of users transitioned each quarter, showing a steady increase.
- Efficiency Gains:
- Decrease in average handling time (AHT) for order processing.
- Increase in the number of interactions completed.
- Error Reduction:
- Reduction in Mainframe code redundancy from a baseline towards the goal.
- User Satisfaction Scores:
- This would ideally be represented by a survey or feedback scores, which aren't provided in the data. You might need to include qualitative feedback or testimonials if available.
- Business Impact:
- Percentage of DFO relevant Code in Mainframe reduced over time, indicating a transition to more efficient platforms.
- Performance Metrics:
- Increase in DFO % of Quotes by Organization or by Team.
- Increase in DFO % of Place Order by Supervisor or by Agent.
PROJECT OUTCOMES - IMPACT
PROJECT DETAILS - LEARNINGS
The Digital Front Office Case Management project at Thermo Fisher Scientific was a journey rich in learning experiences, particularly in navigating the challenges of a tight timeline and initially ambiguous scope and vision.
One of the key learnings was the importance of leadership in defining the project's direction. Faced with a lack of predefined scope and vision, I leveraged my expertise in UX best practices to conceptualize and shape the project's trajectory. This process underscored the value of proactive and creative problem-solving in UX design, especially when working under time constraints. Additionally, the project provided an invaluable opportunity to deepen my experience in leading Design Thinking workshops and Luma activities. These workshops were instrumental in aligning the team and stakeholders, fostering a shared understanding and collaborative approach to the project.
The development of complex user and system flows further honed my skills in visualizing and communicating intricate processes, ensuring that all team members had a clear understanding of the system's architecture and user interactions. These learnings not only contributed to the successful implementation of the Digital Front Office Case Management but also enriched my professional growth, reinforcing the significance of adaptability, strategic thinking, and effective team leadership in the field of UX design."
PROJECT DETAILS - LEARNINGS