„You do IT” or similar beginnings of conversation are very common to me for years now. After those opening words colleagues and friends tell me about their adventures with IT. How complicated it all is and that IT was meant to simplify life, etc. An example story goes like this, names and roles were intentionally left out.
User: “I change to the purchasing department on December 1st and have to apply for a user in the EiKaSys42 system”.
IT: “That’s what you should do in the UserPortal, I’ll copy the link in the chat for you”
User: “I have already searched there”.
IT: “Ah, okay, I’ll take a look… You can find it at Misc→external→purchasing→process→role”
User: “OK, Thanks”
…10 minutes later
User: “I cannot submit the form without the entry in the fields AssKeyU, EiRoMan and HerNoMo. Also my employee ID does not fit into the field.”
IT: “That’s where you enter your international employee ID, which is 6 digits long. AssKeyU stands for the key user assigned to you and EiRoMan for the division. I don’t know what HerNoMo is either, I’m just IT”.
User: “But I don’t know a key user or division, nor have I ever heard of an international employee ID”.
IT: “I can’t help you with this, I am only responsible for IT”.
You probably also know such a famous relay race, especially as a new staff member or with new procedures. Sometimes it takes days to gather all the information or users simply guess entries which leads to a lot of trouble later on.
Another common scenario is a business department provides an automated process that users must perform once a year or even less. This machinery then queries similar cryptic entries, temporary results cannot be saved and help fields contain very luminous entries such as “In the HerNoMo field you must enter the HerNoMo of your division without leading zeros”.
Who is really the problem there? From the user’s point of view the problem is often “the IT”, because otherwise they wouldn’t tell me these stories. But this is not quite accurate. Yes, a decent IT could be more consultative. It would be very nice if a consultant team in IT didn’t dump all nonsense into portals and workflows without involving affected end users and extensive user stories. Often such a procedure is rushed in as the last action before a new business application is introduced, without much trial and error.
However, it is also the responsibility of the departments to keep entries to a minimum. To provide a docket and a contact person for new employees. In my opinion – at least from the point of view of the company as such – it doesn’t make sense to throw non-specialist employees into specialist processes. The working time wasted there due to ignorance of the processes, the (non-intuitive) operation of specialized applications and incorrect, misplaced entries could easily be put into a back office that asks the user appropriate questions and serves him courteously.
So do me a favour and build systems and portals that are user friendly even when it comes to non-IT processes. The users will thank you.