Even though development tools and techniques have improved drastically I still hear from corporate application users that the systems their IT department built or purchased for them lack usability. We all know that projects are still failing or challenged based on the triple constraint (Time, Budget, Scope). I wonder if the addition of a fourth element, usability, would put more numbers in the failed category. Teams often claim all the features were delivered. True, but if ease of use is missing was the feature really successfully delivered?
Would Apple profit as much if they did not incorporate usability requirements and testing in their iPod and iPhone product development? Let me answer that for you. No! Successful companies around the world conduct focus groups and usability testing to help differentiate their products from their competition.
At our last IIBA meeting in Atlanta, the speaker, Dave Altman, asked how many people work in an environment where there is a usability lab or any usability activities taking place. 1 person out of 40 raised their hands. These 40 people represented 10-15 large companies in the Atlanta area. As IT professionals why are we not focusing more on this important step? In my opinion money and time is wasted if we implement solutions that lack usability even if the triple constraint is met.
There is a lot of talk lately on why business and IT are disconnected. Most of the talk is around aligning strategies which I believe is the first step. Provide usable solutions and you’ll see that gap shrink even more.
As BAs and UX professionals we need to push for more time and money for usability testing. It is our job to help provide workable solutions to meet the business need.