The Top 11 Tips For Designing Business Process Applications

I like designing web sites, because they’re more visible and by that standard, more glamorous. However, I like designing business process applications  better, because applications are more function focused. The success of an application is dependent on how well I’ve thought out the workflow and functionality.  It is not clouded by marketing.

Here’s a road map on how to design strategically for a business process application:

  1. Design strategically for maximum productivity. When you’re designing a web site, you want to maximize clicks and time spent on a page. When you’re designing a business process app, you want the user to complete each task as quickly as possible. The less time spent on a task, the higher the productivity.
  2. Prioritize features for roles by frequency of use.
  3. Design for maximum scalability and flexibility  as businesses can shift direction to respond to market conditions.
  4. Differentiate between usability problems and workflow problems. Sometimes what is perceived as a usability issue is really a company’s  production and/or  red tape problem.
  5. Identify and provide solutions for current online and offline workarounds.
  6. Don’t just document and design for the current workflow. Look for ways to streamline the company’s current online and offline workflows.
  7. Identify other systems (i.e. ERPs or legacy systems) that your application will have to hook into.
  8. Flowchart primary and exception use cases to catch functionality loopholes.
  9. Templatize functionality/behaviors as much as possible to optimize learnability, user adoption, and minimize development time.
  10. Gather users’ input often throughout the process by conducting quick-and-dirty prototyping.
  11. Work closely with the training department to address usability and user adoption issues. When a company has been using a legacy system a long time, it is a cultural shift to move to a new system.

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