Overhauling a Task Support Tool: Flexibility and Communication
It’s finally time to roll up your sleeves and get dirty: let’s overhaul your task support tool! So, what’s first? Sweeping out the navigation, dusting off the content? Or maybe the question shouldn’t be “Where do we start?” but rather “How should we do it?” Let’s take a look!
5. Tackle one closet at a time
However tempting, like emptying all the closets in the house before cleaning any, overhauling all the content of your task support tool in one fell swoop won’t be your best approach. You’ll be more successful putting your work process and the changes made to the tool (navigation, organization of information, search tools) to the test on just a small part of the content, just one topic for instance. This approach will help you see what works—or doesn’t work—and improve your process before you dig into the next section. It will also validate as you go whether the results are meeting everyone’s needs and expectations. What better way to avoid unpleasant last-minute surprises all around?
6. Give yourself permission to learn
Every task support document is different. So even if you’re an old hat and overhauling for the twentieth time, everything won’t be perfect from the get-go. When you hit a sticky spot, give yourself permission to learn a little! There’s no way around it: you’ll need to adjust the process and work methods throughout the project, so you might as well get used to it! Put your pride in storage and ask questions to better understand the tool, how it’s used and its contents. By staying flexible and open to learning, you’ll find the most appropriate solutions to any problem.
7. Put the house in order: document and explain
Bold or italics? How should a task or a concept be described? What information needs to be presented in table form? Like reorganizing the furniture after spring cleaning, overhauling a task support tool means making tons of decisions, which can often lead to changes in ways of working. By documenting and explaining them clearly, you’ll help institute these choices and make sure everyone understands them. People will no longer be asking how to do such and such. It’s the best way to make sure your decisions continue to be applied and the tool stays consistent, once the overhaul is complete.
8. Set clear goals and manage expectations for your task support tool
No one likes to disappoint. To make sure your deliverables are up to expectations, it’s best to clearly establish your objectives, their scope and their limitations, and especially communicate all this clearly! For example, if a prototype is presented just to test the navigability, make sure to alert everyone that the interface won’t be pretty and the content won’t be well-organized or well-written.
Clearly, laying out objectives is all the more important in usability testing. If users don’t know what they need to look at, they may very well lose time on irrelevant details and neglect essential elements.
Spic and span results
Overhauling a task support tool is an exercise in flexibility. You have to constantly adapt to input and review your work methods. But like any big cleaning project, when you do it right, you’ll end up with impeccable results.
The next article will give a few tips to ensure the lasting results of your task support tool overhaul.