French Bulldog looking up at man's face.

Major National Veterinary Chain

The Challenge

A major national veterinary chain with 900 offices, 15,000 associates and 2 million patients developed their own ERM (electronic records management) system over the course of 15 years. The system is the backbone of their company, handling all aspects of the practice. Unfortunately, the software was antiquated in its usability, leading the business to identify a user experience transformation as critical to ongoing business success. The system was found to be workers’ biggest pain point due to poor ease of use, high learning curve, undefined workflows and “hidden” functionality. The company identified the following success metrics:

  • Reduce the length of workflows
  • Improve comprehension and understanding while completing tasks
  • Increase learnability and reduce training time
  • Increase engagement for all users

I was brought on at the start of the project by Door3 (lead agency) to lead the user experience team, providing product strategy, as well as research and design leadership.

 

For new employees, the barrier to entry was quite high. Mistakes were happening because of the cumbersome nature of the information and interacting with it.Director of UX, DOOR3

The Solution

Using a human-centered design approach, we kicked off the discovery phase of the project with visits to six veterinary practices across two states. The goal was to observe both use of the software system and general hospital operations. There were two service models in use and the software had to accommodate both. Visits included user interviews with hospital staff across all roles.

Based on our research, personas were generated to help keep users in focus. Multiple user journeys were created to illustrate various types of office visits as well as which hospital staff members were involved with different visit types. Taking this a step further, I mapped the user journeys for each visit type to corresponding system workflows—visualizing for the first time how various users interacted with the system across office visits. This allowed our team and the client to better understand the relationship between people, tasks and the system.

 

[Michael] was involved from a UX strategy and leadership perspective. [He] helped us with envisioning the product strategy for how to move forward with this application.Director of UX, DOOR3

To demonstrate a product vision that was relevant and achievable to client leadership, the team developed a draft framework for the future system and delivered two working prototypes as proof of concepts that demonstrated the possibilities and value a new user experience can bring. One prototype provided an overview of activity in the hospital that previously required viewing three separate screens to achieve. The other reduced seven screens to one view and reduced workflow by over two minutes.

 

[Michael was] actively involved with the iterative Agile process of producing something, putting it in front of clients and stakeholders, testing, and getting feedback.Director of UX, DOOR3

With buy-in from client leadership, the user experience team then scaled to ten designers to work on initial wireframes for all 38 features and workflows. To keep consistency within a large team, I led the creation of a design system and pattern library with guidelines for system behavior such as validation handling and application copy style. I also led the development of a set of UX Principles that became the touchstone for all work on the revised system, which was an essential part of the project. The UX Principles enabled the team to build a cohesive user experience across a system with many workflows. Additionally, the user experience team held regularly scheduled demo days, to share work, gather feedback and reflect on consistency.

 

[Michael] is distinguished by [his] UX leadership, product strategy, iterative Agile design, and user testing. [He is] able to factor user feedback into that process. I was impressed that [he] used measurable, baseline-able metrics to make decisions. To [his] credit, one of the things [Michael] did throughout the project was to baseline the things that we could measure to show progress. …. User testing and feedback was a critical part of the Agile process. [He] deliver[s] a high-quality finished product, which is what we’re in the business of providing.”Director of UX, DOOR3

User research continued to be a major part of the project through regularly scheduled moderated usability tests. Usability testing allowed the team to iterate on user experience and to make product decisions based on users. To kick usability testing off, I drafted the initial test script and trained others in usability test setup, subject recruitment and how to conduct usability tests.

 

Michael is extremely well-organized. There was no reason for me to get involved and address any issues. As a manager of the practice, I only get involved at the engagement level on troublemaker projects. This one ran extremely well, especially from a UX and design perspective. That is a credit to [Michael]. Our client loved him. They came to trust him with an enormous amount of responsibility on this project. From a project management perspective, he did an excellent job.Director of UX, DOOR3

Throughout the project, I managed stakeholder expectations, planned and led stakeholder presentations, led a user experience team of up to 10 people, worked across five Scrum teams, as well as coached product owners and mentored junior UX staff members in both product management and user experience best practices.

 

The Outcome

The team met all client goals, resulting in measurable efficiency gains including reductions in friction and time to complete every workflow, while increasing learnability, associate engagement and delight.

 

The Impact
  • A reduction of time to complete a workflow critical to every customer encounter by 2 minutes, which equates to over 200,000 hours per year returned to the company’s associates and customers
  • A reduction from 105 to 59 steps in another critical workflow
  • For the first time, pet hospitals lined up to be the first to receive the beta version of the software.
  • Increased satisfaction by 45–70% for each of the tested component of the software

 

After seeing the demo, the branches were vying to be the beta testers of the app. They were so excited to get it first because it was so much better than what they had. … The excitement and feedback were out of this world.
Director of UX, DOOR3

The project was a win for the company, employees who use the software, as well as customers and their pets.

 

We have employed Humanist’s services and in particular Michael for the past 12 months, working for clients ranging from small scale to Fortune 500 enterprises. He is the consummate professional, with a wealth of product strategy and user experience insight. More importantly he is not scared to get down and produce high fidelity detailed documentation. Self starter, knows when to escalate issues where necessary and most importantly customer centric yet pragmatic
David Blackall, Senior Digital Business Analyst at Door3

 

Read the entire client review from DOOR3’s Director of UX on Clutch. Note: I was contracted under my company name, Humanist.

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