In the last few months we've been fortunate enough to have been working in a team creating an ambitious web application for one of the UK's largest retailers. We've been 'embedded' deep in the bowels of their central London offices creating something that we hope will make the working day significantly easier for hundreds of employees. It's been hard work but a lot of fun.
What we've learned about working for a very large company is that whilst it's true that change can sometimes be slow and there can be a tendency to 'play it safe' there's also an appetite for digital disruption, for 'new and shiny' things that can add real value - especially in the demanding and ultra-competitive world of retail.
Initially we were able to use our skills at turning ideas quickly into prototypes and that ability to deliver a working web prototype quickly enabled us to get stakeholder buy-in right from the outset and get board level approval to go ahead within weeks. Subsequently Agile Development has allowed us to build and deliver working software within weeks - that part of the process is about turning those skateboards into bicycles!
But really good design evolves over time, and for our web application the journey's only just begun - soon the really interesting work begins...users will start actually using it. A good way to look at this trial phase, as Bence put it, is that now we're inviting users to become part of our development team. Adopting such 'Lean UX' techniques is not without its challenges, especially in an enterpise IT world used to deliverables and specifications. The ultimate goal is to stay nimble and ahead of the game, and to avoid being paralysed by internal decision making - ultimately we're creating user-focused experiences that will change the way people work, not versions of software. It's early days but we're hoping that this evolution will continue.