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Author's profile photo Janaki Kumar

Next Stop on your Design Thinking Journey: Creating a UX Center of Excellence

A major shift is under way – within software vendors and IT departments alike – in how organizations view enterprise software. Time was, the decision to buy a piece of software was made by the head of IT, and the vendor with the longest list of features/functions usually won. Considerations of the actual usability for the end user were an afterthought or, more likely, totally lacking. End users never had a seat at the table to help make the decision.

Humanizing IT

Due to consumerization, end users are now more vocal about what they want. And they don’t want software that is hard to use. Bad user experience leads to higher training costs, more errors and lower productivity. Senior executives are beginning to see that user experience impacts the bottom line.

The Designer Gap

After this realization dawns, the question becomes: What to do about it? To design human-friendly IT solutions, organizations need technologists, business folks and, most importantly, designers trained in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). However, the reality in most IT organizations is that there are no, or very few, designers on staff. Designers know the art and science of gathering requirements from end users, then incorporating that input into software design. This process is about designing in such a way that it fits the user’s task while helping the organization reach its business goals.

To address this skill gap, SAP has established the Design and Co-Innovation Center, which offers design services for our customer’s strategic projects. Through an engagement, customers see the positive difference that design can make for the outcome of the IT project. After our engagements we have had several customers request that we build a similar service in their organization. To address this need, we offer a service to help establish a UX Center of Excellence (CoE) in their organization.

UX Maturity Varies

From our experience, customers tend to be at various stages in their UX journeys. Some are new to UX and are interested to make tangible improvements to their users’ business software experience. Other companies are more mature and are looking to use the power of experience design to innovate.

Centralized or Decentralized Organizational Model

Some businesses have a centralized IT setup and could benefit from a centralized UX CoE.  Others have distributed lines of business and could be more effective with a decentralized model. Still others may choose to have a mix of both – a centralized team to handle UX standards and guidelines with distributed teams working with lines of business to design for their needs.

Our Approach

To design a CoE that is right for you:

  1. First, we work with you to identify the goals of the CoE organization. A simple but powerful technique we use is the “Remember the Future” exercise where the stakeholders imagine the best outcome for this organization and the teams use this as the guide to make decisions.
  2. Based on this vision, your company’s UX maturity and overall organizational setup, we determine together the type of UX CoE that will work for you.
  3. Next, we help you identify the skills needed – such as user researcher, design thinking facilitator, interaction designer, visual designer and UX architect.
  4. Once the team is in place, we offer training in design thinking, user research and design to help customers get started.

And most importantly, you need to have a design leadership culture that fosters creativity.  We will talk more about how you do that in this space next time.

Learn more about creating your own UX Center of Excellence.

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