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"No wow effect without strategic consulting!"

About user requirements, internal change barriers and the added-value of strategic UX Consulting

Future-proof products and services are no coincidence. It is a long way from the initial idea to the product launch – a sustainable UX strategy has to be developed, established within the company and successfully conveyed outside the organization. UID accompanies the software developer COVER in this process. As a market leader for user experience, UID supports the software developer from Böblingen, Germany, in making the publishing software of the same name future-proof. Preliminary interim result of the strategic realignment: Instead of a powerful desktop application it contains mobile, task-related Cover apps. Lisa Reimer, Senior User Experience Consultant at UID, and Dr. Martin Würthner, COVER CEO, discuss nature and effects of this strategic change.

UID: Mr. Würthner, what aim did you pursue in the COVER project?

Martin Würthner: COVER is a comprehensive CRM and ERP software that has successfully grown for 20 years and is used in publishing houses of all sizes. The continuing digitalization, however, has also changed the requirements of the publishers' customers, partners and staff. The aim of the joint project with UID has been to launch a new COVER version that accommodates the changed user requirements, convinces the users with its intuitive usability and wows our customers.

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UID: Lisa, how do you as a UX strategy consultant contribute to this wow effect?

LisaReimer: There is no panacea for wowing customers and users, and this is what makes our work so challenging and interesting. Today, merely creating a good product is not enough. The perceived quality is decisive for success. My job as a UX consultant for COVER is to ensure a high degree of usability. I have to know the users and their tasks, goals and needs, and I have to know where they work and how they do it. Then I integrate this knowledge into the project and make sure that it remains in focus throughout all the stages of the project.

UID: And how do you ensure that the user doesn't "get lost" on the way?

Lisa Reimer: By firmly establishing the perspective of the user in the development process. It is decisive to sit down together with the customer, to develop a sustainable vision for the new product together and to make sure that it is properly established and implemented in the company. A UX strategy cannot be dictated from above. User centricity is an approach that has to be developed and implemented within an organization, for example by means of agile working methods. COVER is an excellent example for how to make this change a success.

UID: Mr. Würthner, how did your team members react to the new UX strategy? Did they have reservations about the new COVER version?

Martin Würthner: Yes, they did. At the start, the project managers of the individual COVER modules were very skeptical. They were of the opinion that the old navigational structure had proven successful over the years and they feared that the realignment wouldn't be well received.

UID: And how did you deal with this Situation?

Martin Würthner: UID was of great help during the change management process. Ms. Reimer and her colleagues acknowledged existing concerns and the advantages of well-proven solutions while
opening the team members' minds to new options that were previously unimaginable. The open, appreciative and, at the same time, challenging ways of the UID consultants eventually managed to spark enthusiasm for the new COVER version.

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UID: Lisa, what factors facilitated the cooperation in your opinion?

Lisa: That was clearly the open communication at eye level. To COVER, we have always been more than just a service provider, we are partners. This doesn't mean that we wouldn't have heated discussions in stressful phases of the project. The actual job of a strategy consultant is to keep the focus on the customers' visions and to have the heart to speak up when they lose that goal out of sight. On the other hand, it was beneficial for our work that Mr. Würthner likes to take advice and always bears the success of the entire project in mind.

UID: So, since COVER is already in use - what is the users' feedback?

Martin Würthner: Very positive. The pioneering spirit has carried over to our customers and brought our company considerable growth. But we won't rest on our laurels. We will continue to work on and optimize COVER and have firmly integrated UID into our development process. UID keeps challenging us to question the status quo. In this process, we benefit from the vast project experience of our consultants, and especially from their expertise with regard to strategic and operative questions on design, navigational structure and technology.

UID: Looking back, would you say hiring a strategy consultant was a good idea?

Martin Würthner: Absolutely. For us, the realignment of COVER raised many strategic questions: What are our customers' success factors? What are their implications for the software? How can COVER meet the resulting requirements? UID kept resorting to these aspects and integrating them into the project. This enabled us to make existing COVER modules future-proof and to create new licensing models and application fields for the users. Now, the new COVER gives our customers impetus and has really created the desired wow effect. Without strategic consulting, this wouldn't have happened.

Interview by Ana-Marija Grebenar.