I'm hoping you can help me. I've been allocated the role within my organisation to look at how we can improve the usability of our systems. I'm not from a UX background at all so this is proving quire difficult. One positive to have come out of it is that I've realised this is the kind of area I'd like to work in. I'm a fairly junior grade within my organisation so I do have only limited influence.
The organisation is a Government department so is fairly old fashioned in its approaches. We use waterfall to a large extent and our projects tend to be fairly large and driven by business change. Our IT is largely outsourced with us specifying requirements and then contracting with large suppliers to deliver against those requirements. Our strategy is to use Commercial Off The Shelf packages (COTS) wherever possible. This clearly limits the amount of influence we can have with regards to the UI etc. The fact IT delivery is outsourced also makes it more difficult and usability needs to be specified as requirements and standards if possible.
Do you have any suggestions as to how I can tackle this? Budgets are incredibly tight so the approach of just bringing in a consultant to help isn't likely to get accepted :(
Thanks for all your suggestions. They're areas that I'm considering and concerned about! I have a meeting with my IT director on Wednesday as he has asked me to develop a way forward on usability.
Unfortunately him and his senior colleagues think there is a magic bullet in standards. For accessibility we basically stipulate that our IT systems comply with ISO 9241-171 and WCAG 2. These allow us to then (reasonably successfully) measure compliance by testing. They want me to identify an equivalent standard for usability, the problem being I'm not aware that one exists, especially when you bear in mind I'm not just looking for something web specific.
I'm going to raise this with him and suggest that user centred design is the way forward, we can then consider the difficulties we will have with doing that though as it will involve a massive culture change.