From mapping workflows to walls of Post It notes to wireframes and testing, this is what we call Contextual Inquiry. We recently completed a global research project with the highly experienced DXG Group to find out how to get new platform improvements to the CCH iFirm community faster.
Why contextual inquiry is different
In this instance, Contextual Inquiry helped us to better understand how users navigated CCH iFirm and completed their tasks. We learnt that we could reduce the energy-sapping switching between screens and sections and transform the search function. This update would better align with the end-user – instead of leading with a tech development point of view. We watched, we listened to customer-driven feedback, and we tested.
And in 2021, we implemented a new benchmark for searchability and usability. We wanted to reshape how accounting firms manipulate data, handle billing, and complete jobs for clients. This meant a fundamental enhancement to our user interface. Moving away from a single browser to a browser or user interface of choice approach would allow CCH iFirm users to search for the right answer they need and resolve the problem of browser-switching within a document (as previously required in the multiple steps for its CCH iFirm Tax solution) – a proven drag on productivity.
The user-focused approach
Next up for our team for 2022 was to prioritise the transition from a product navigation approach to a user navigation approach. We achieved this by watching the daily workflow for professional accounting teams. Critical functions for everyday actions like completing or starting a job and filling in timesheets became the new starting point in user workflows. It made even more sense to switch to more modern navigation using icons instead of lists, helping users streamline their productivity.
By understanding how accounting professionals work, we designed new navigation to compress the time and workflows needed to deliver jobs – saving time, creating capacity, and enabling the business to grow in other areas. We knew we wanted to focus on helping improve the bottom line, so our users can focus on growing the top line.