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.