If business and user goals are out of alignment in an enterprise app, the business usually is the tie breaker. They are funding the project (albeit through technology) and view the business needs with greater consideration than individual needs and preferences. Further - if user engagement with the product does not have a clear positive effect on the bottom line then the business is free to pursue a path that is more congruent with business goals.

How do you handle a conflict between user goals and business goals?

  • Short answer: it depends, at least on the specifics on the conflict (i.e. how much are user goals and business goals affected by either decision) and also on how much respecting user goals matter in terms of the project having utility (which is what you're saying with the 'tie breaker'). Aug 22, 2014 at 15:30

4 Answers 4


You need to respect the decision of the party that is footing the bill. If the business does not give user input proper priority that is a matter between the business and the user.

If you bypass the business to give user input a higher priority you are going to lose. The business is not going to respect those actions and without business buy-in and support in the end you are not likely to be successful.

In general don't take on an issue without support. Even if it is a valid issue. Without support you will most likely not be successful. Since you have associated yourself with the problem you will get branded as the cause of the problem you failed to fix.

As for how to handle it. Get business and users in the same room and let the users represent themselves. If they say this is UI is confusing you can agree but simple state at this point that is the accepted and funded design.

  • 1
    I agree with this answer except keep in mind not every battle is won overnight. If you want management to buy in to UX when they don't already prepare some material which shows ROI and start coming up with ways to improve the UX in your application. Don't be pushy but don't give up. Over time it's worth the effort.
    – FodderZone
    Aug 24, 2014 at 2:26

This question is more about project management and change management than UX. But it's a well known situation in UX-non-mature organisations. I've met it twice personally.

It is a long path for you to build up awareness for users and to establish design processes that merge business as well as users needs. Look out for UX maturity docs - how to reach it strategically and what to do tactically.

In your situation I would give the message in the language and thought context your sponsor understands. Because you can't expect them to get your point of view yet.

If it is a business background collect KPI's and calculate business cases for usability. Check here for same cases humanfactors.com/coolstuff/roi.asp

If it is a IT background you better argue in terms of effiency, less errors, supposed user acceptance of your and other solutions (and the security issues emerging if other solutions were used stealthily) and may be what competitors do. And you can calculate costs of aditional training time because of unstardarized user journeys / software behaviours.

Good luck


Generally business managers consider usability as a low priority issue. Managers know that employees do not have any other option but to use the available software.

What managers do not know, is the indirect costs of low usability. A low usability software can reduce employee productivity, increase strain and anxiety, increase errors etc. Subsequently these effects will reflect on the paying customers.

We have to increase the awareness among managers, that usability has a very important role in a successfully running business. These can be done by presenting examples of cost savings, calculating the effect (money, time, customer satisfaction) of proposed usability changes, making presentations of the many benefits usability has etc.


I do not understand what do you mean by goals. Is it the UX aspect of the application or features for an application?

In my opinion, the Business have a say in what can be delivered when it comes to the features. This does not mean the users requests are ignored, but kept in backlog which will be pulled back at a later date to implement and deliver. This is one way to avoid the conflict.

When it comes to the UX, a UX expert work with the users to find the best experience. The users, business or the developers are not the best in suggesting the best user experience. Their response will be from the world they are familiar with. Unless it is a high priority, Business wont hire design experts to architect the UX. The users are losers in that battle. If it can be measured in terms of lack of productivity, loss & waste the users have a base to negotiate.

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