Tags: bt intranet, intranet applications, oracle, usability, usability standards
I had another call with Oracle to build on their initial response to my first call and my recent meeting with Oracle about my UCM improvements wish list. This focused on the usability issues BT has with Oracle UCM version 10GR3.
They have attempted to address the issues we have raised. There are changes with 10GR4 and 11GR which Oracle claim will improve the usability of UCM. However I’m not sure whether BT can justify the resources required to use UCM ‘well enough’ to gain these benefits.
I really want UCM to have simpler, fewer, features that mean user with little or no technical skills can easily use it for publishing content. Oracle’s focus is also on improving usability but for the highly skilled technical minded people not the majority of users.
I’m not the only one with issues. Look at the SWOT analysis on UCM the University of Minnesota carried out.
So, Oracle are making improvements. Oracle have offered to pick up the outstanding issues not fixed by releases already completed with BT later in October.
So, continue to let me know of the issues you have that I can raise on your behalf by commenting, tweeting or emailing me.
Tags: bt intranet, intranet applications, oracle, usability standards
My first meeting with Oracle last week went well. Oracle agreed with my usability issues and promised to improve their usability. My call on Friday with Oracle to cover my UCM issues started off well. Oracle agreed I did have good points about UCM’s usability. Oracle agreed to email me with actions, owners and timescales.
However that didn’t happened. Instead of a commitment to say what version would solve which problem and involving me in any unsolved issues all I have been offered is another call this Friday to cover what Oracle can do.
Maybe I’m being impatient but since it was 3 months ago that I originally raised these same issues it is disappointing the answers are not ready to hand on what Oracle can do.
So while I am making progress on wider usability issues with Oracle products through the Customer Advisory Council, the news isn’t so good for UCM…………….so far.
I’ll update you on any news after Friday’s call.
Tags: bt intranet, intranet applications, oracle, usability, usability standards
Yesterday I had the first of two meetings this week with Oracle to discuss the usability issues raised about Oracle UCM on my blog. Oracle accepted the usability issues I raised. Oracle wanted to address them in several ways.
1. The next version of UCM (10GR4) will address some of the issues raised. 11GR1 will address others. My 2nd meeting will identify which ones in more detail.
2. As BT is a major customer of Oracle I will be invited to their Customer Advisory Council meetings in future. There biggest customers have the opportunity to raise usability issues across the whole product range.
3. BT’s usability standards I posted about will be reviewed by Oracle to consider as a benchmark for usability of their products in future.
While there are no guarantees that any of this will happen or improve usability it is refreshing to see the attitude taken by Oracle at the first meeting. Time will tell if discussions are turned into actions and usability improves though.
I will keep you posted on how the 2nd meeting goes.
Tags: beta testing, bt intranet, governance, intranet applications, oracle, usability, usability standards, user testing
When I asked Oracle, can you improve your poor usability please? I was really pleased to see how widely my views were shared. I’m not alone! It has led to Oracle re-engaging with Janus Boye (read his blog post on Oracle) and me. There is no guarantee this will lead to anything so how can we improve the usability of Oracle and other software applications?
Well, I can think of the following ways we can try:
Helping make the decisions
We need to make sure we are as closely involved as possible when our organisations decide on buying or developing a business application. It’s much harder to get a decision changed after it has been made. We also need to make sure the full costs are understood. By this I mean the productivity costs of training, helpdesk support and extra time taken using the application.
Usability standards being implemented
Embed usability standards into any procurement or development process for technology. This means any technology your organisation buys or develops has to meet these standards as well as any other technical, security or other criteria. You can be the contact point for any queries about your standards and get involved.
BT uses these usability standards for this purpose.
Proof of concept
Test out if possible the technology before it is fully developed or bought based on user needs to see what our the usability issues and how easy and costly they will be to solve. I do this with user stories which explain the business need, activity to be tested and outcome needed for it to have been met successfully.
Get your vendor to commit to what you need them to do with timescales you both agree to. Make sure it is binding in any contract and a review does take place to check every improvement agreed has been done to the usability standard expected. (My thanks to Christophen McCann)
I will keep you updated on progress with Oracle on my blog or Twitter.
Tags: accessibility, best practice, bt intranet, content, governance, standards, training, usability standards
When I posted last week that ‘all intranet content is not the same’ I promised to post about how BT educates its intranet publishing community to have a common awareness and understanding of the importance of our publishing standards.
All publishers of formal content in BT must do the basic training courses before they can publish formal content on our intranet. Each course takes about 30 minutes to complete on-line and should be repeated every two years.
These courses cover our publishing standards such as accessibility, usability, information management, etc. You need to pass each course – just doing them isn’t enough – with an 80% pass mark.
Publishers who do not use a content management system, plus service owners and template designers, also have to do the advanced training courses. These cover how standards need to be embedded in their site design.
Content management system publishers use templates which have these features built into them before use such as global navigation bar and meet AA accessibility standards.
All publishers of formal content need to do a one-off training course for the content management system you are using (e.g. Obtree, Teamsite).
Tags: benefit, bt, help, intranet, intranet applications, oracle, usability, usability standards, users
In my last post ’5 ways to help you improve intranet applications’ I talked about some easy steps you can take. The first step was having some usability standards to apply to your intranet applications so users have the best experience.
Now, there are plenty of sites and blogs who can give you expert guidance. The difference with these standards is they are practical and have been applied in BT. They are:
1. Have a style guide so there is consistent, usable, design
2. Measure cycle time to check speed of doing things
3. Measure support calls to helpdesks and target a reduction
4. Examine the systems error logs and see where people are having problems
5. Observe real users not survey (or listen to the opinion of senior stakeholders)
6. Fix the easy and small things like the labels on buttons and the headings in forms
7. Be forgiving. Allow the back button and provide an undo feature
8. Make help available where people need it.
9. Only have a minimum FAQ section. Instead try to reduce the questions people are asking frequently – the FAQ is a ‘things to fix’ list
10. Fix accessibility so everyone can use it
11. Consider the system emails and improve them
12. Forget trying to tell people things for their own good, we all have banner blindness
13. Be consistent across applications in the style and language.
14. Allow deep linking to specific parts of the system
My thanks to Sandy Blair for his help with this post.