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Make it Simple, Fun and Relevant - Part 1

Often when meeting with customers and prospects I get the question: how do we make SuccessFactors so easy to use for managers and employees across the world? The question always arises from HR pros when I explain that we don’t build SuccessFactors for them, but rather for busy managers and individual contributors around the world. Fail to make it easy to use and no one will use it. Simple. No usage means no transactions, which means no strategic data. This leaves managers and executives in the dark when it comes to making decisions around the biggest cost to businesses today - people.

No one can afford to be blind sighted when it comes to their people. Now more than ever, with so much need for restructuring and resizing, this is critical. Our approach to designing the SuccessFactors Suite simply has to be different from “design for super users,” those who use the same tools day in and day out. It doesn’t matter much though if it’s hard to use, if users spend all their time figuring it out.

I decided to ask one of our User Interface leaders how we actually make it so easy and rewarding for people to use SuccessFactors. User Experience Manager Andrew Wong was pleased to share this with us. There are three pillars to the SuccessFactors approach to design:

  1. User Involvement - Over the years, SuccessFactors has conducted volumes of research, including usability testing, focus groups, site visits, customer interviews, surveys, and usage data analysis. We talk to companies of all sizes, customers and non-customers alike. We also talk with end users — the managers and employees who use our product — not only HR professionals, whose challenges are often different than the everyday challenges that our end users face. You can often find us performing usability testing at trade shows and at our annual SuccessConnect user conference.
  2. Innovation - We value the creative process and innovation, and we believe that innovation is what significantly differentiates SuccessFactors from products that stick to a more conventional approach. We constantly challenge ourselves to solve problems better than how they’ve been solved before, and we do not settle for “me-too.” Our NEXTlabs™ is a testament to our commitment to innovation. “New” and “exciting” are never words we avoid in our thinking. We lead with ideas, and we embrace change.
  3. Corporate values - Another way we differentiate ourselves is by designing in a manner consistent with our founding principles: measurable customer success and delight, superior excellence, and constant improvement (Kaizen!). We also align our goals throughout the company and enforce our Rules of Engagement (including our “no jerks” rule) to ensure that we are all working well together, with nothing but our customers’ best interests at heart.

Our latest product, Stack Ranker, features many user-friendly design elements - it is visually appealing, easy to use, provides all the relevant information a manager requires at a glance, and strives for simplicity (see the screenshot). The Stack Rank appears clearly and cleanly on the right-hand side of screen. Easy-to-understand results will drive usage.

Our design pillars form the foundation of our truly User-Centered Design approach to building fun and easy to use software. Next week Andrew will share with us the 8 principles that drive our success in user interface design. We want our customers to get the most value out of their investment - creating a great user experience helps us to ensure that the system is used so customers will have a rich source of data from which to make their most important people-related decisions.

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