OutcomeDesigned a digital workplace concept based on extensive needfinding and prototyping with end users. Final prototype available here.
RoleThe team consisted of 5 students and I contributed to user research, prototyping, product design and implementation.
Research and discovery
- What do project managers actually do?
- What are their goals and what tools or methods are used to achieve these goals?
- How does project management differ between companies?
- What are the challenges of project management today?
Background readingFirst, to wrap our heads around the theory and key terminology of the field, we consulted resources such as PMI's "bible" of project management PMBOK to understand key terminology.
BenchmarkingWe identified and evaluated various project management tools such as Basecamp, Slack, Jira, Asana, Trello and Microsoft Project. At this point, we had an understanding of the theoretical advantages and disadvantages of different project management philosophies and solutions. Next, we had to figure out how these are applied in real life.
NeedfindingWe used various qualitative research methods to learn from people, including:
- Semi-structured interviews with project managers from different organisations and Nokia employees.
- Shadowing and observation of project managers to see their actual behaviour.
- Contextual inquiry by visiting project teams at work to learn how they collaborate.
Examples of insights
- Project planning is a slow process due to fragmented data where estimates are often inaccurate.
- Many project managers perceive that people management is the most important and challenging part of their work, yet spend a lot of time on repetitive information sharing and tracking tasks.
- Employees in large multi-national corporations feel out of touch with their companies both culturally and professionally.
AutomationWe wanted to find out what the opportunities and threats of automation are and how it can be used to empower people rather than replace them. In project management there are many tedious tasks that could be automated to save time, reduce errors and make predictions.
We also identified the challenges of implementing automation:
- Lack of historical data or lack of access to it due to fragmented systems.
- Trust by users takes a long time to build.
- Lack of explainability and transparency of automation algorithms.
An evolving workforceThe workplace is continuously changing and will soon be dominated by millennials and the "generation Z" who grew up with the internet.
- This group has much higher demands of technology, expecting a consumer-grade experience in the tools they use at work.
- Meaningful and impactful work is valued more than extrinsic rewards such as money.
- Increased freedom in what projects to work on is linked to their motivation.
- Work is increasingly becoming globalised, done remotely and with less human interaction.
Defining the scope
- "How might we enable people to share an identity, culture or mindset, wherever they are in the world?"
- "How might we use automation to handle repetitive manual tasks and let people focus on people?"
EmployeesSelkä is designed to be used daily. Employees have easy access to all the relevant updates for their current projects and can track their own progress. Additionally, they can browse upcoming projects and apply to those that fit their personal goals.
- Supporting career and personal development.
- Improving motivation by giving freedom to apply for interesting projects.
- Increasing engagement and loyalty with the company by creating a feeling of being connected.
Project managersWhen starting a new project, Selkä helps with creating an initial plan and team by suggesting people who might be relevant based on data points such as skills, past performance and future goals.
All of the recommendations have an explanation to help the user understand and trust them.
It also provides instant and transparent reports to customers to build trust.
- Reducing human errors, saving time and helping with decision making.
- Allowing them to focus on creative work rather than doing repetitive "work about work".
- Build trust within the company and with external clients with transparent and up-to-date reports.
Results & Reflection
- A major challenge for us was deciding on what features to focus on given our limited resources. The main learning of the project was not to try to solve all problems at once.
- Intensive teamwork with a remote team is difficult, but this project gave us a chance to learn how to cope with it better as we gained more experience.
- Finally, I gained a lot of hands-on experience from using various exploratory and evaluative research methods that will definitely come in handy in the future.