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I'm trying to explain the value of proper research for a large enterprise application redesign.

There is some pressure to deliver mockups "to get ahead of development" but the reality of the situation is the application is hugely complex. The current system is very old and form entry based and users have developed idiosyncratic methods to overcome it's usability issues. I'm worried that without proper research and usability testing the redesign could actually decrease important metrics like task completion time.

So it would be good to have some evidence or research that shows that a redesign without proper thought, especially in an enterprise situation, can have serious negative consequences that have huge implications and can cause actually increase time to completion and therefore cost and revenue (especially in the case of a skilled user base with the older system).

I'd love to hear anyone else's solution to dealing with a situation like this or written material on the subject.

  • Not an enterprise situation, but iTunes was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw 'redesigns that decrease usability'. – Michael Lai Jan 26 '16 at 7:39
  • @lustandfury I am dealing with exactly same situation and in my free time personally I do research, sketches, usability, heuristic evaluation and give a presentation every weekend, so that stakeholders will start implementing things to update it on the application I am working. – Sourabh Rangdal Jan 26 '16 at 9:43
  • I too work on redesigning massive applications where users have developed hacks to get round usability issues. There's not much you can do to re-engineer these legacy systems; they're just too far gone. – colmcq Jan 26 '16 at 9:48
  • I've tried to reword this post to make it more around a specific problem, rather than just a request for examples. (That would be too broad and not a question that can be correctly answered). Hopefully this is still along the lines of what you're after, but as per Stack Exchange rules, questions need to be specific and answerable. – JonW Jan 26 '16 at 10:20
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A famous example of changing a product, which is essentially what you have, without proper research is Coca-Cola ("The best just got better#"). Its a good reference to poorly researched product changes when the management rush comes on. So to build evidence based facts to substantiate your reasoning I would recommend search on terms such as:

common reasons for product launch failure

By doing so you will find links such as the below:

Harvard Business Review - why product launches fail

B2B - using market research

These give good insight and may help back you up, which I think is what you after.

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I am not aware of your specific situation, but not entirely unaware of large enterprise application redesign situation either.

Based on my experience I would recommend steps to be taken

1) Find out what's wrong

Do an extensive research on what is wrong with current design. Do an objective analysis of your findings and clearly list down the gaps in your current system vis-a-vis expectation of your end users. Clearly underline and understand how your current system is not in synch with end-user goal, business goal or your buyer's goal.

2) Take business's feedback

Once you have developed some understanding of what your system should be, try and ensure that it is in synch with your boss's (boss is a short form for your management here :)) understanding as well. Ensure that your boss understand the gaps you have identified and take his feedback on your analysis of his feedback as well.

3) Take your end-user's feedback

Your end-users, who have been using the current system for ages, must brace for whats coming. Biggest challenge for them is going to be change, specifically change in mindset. Idea behind this exercise is not only to find out what they think about the current product and validate your findings in step 1, but also to somehow get an idea on how to sell version-2 of this current system.

After doing these steps, you will be in much better position to take an informed decision on redesign.

So, to answer the specific question

a redesign without proper thought, especially in an enterprise situation, can have serious negative consequences that have huge implications

1) Change for your end user, single biggest concern which can make or break your product. If there is a significant change in UX, plan and budget for this change management as well.

2) Gaps in understanding of your buyers and your own business, leading to change in buy/sell decision.

3) Change in your product image/perception unless it is thought through well. For example, if your product was perceived to be flexible and if your approach is changing, then plan and rope in your marketing department for the same.

4) For your own organization, you need to have a team what will support previous version and still keep working on new version as well. It is not as easy as it sounds.

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