CUA of the Month – September, 2011

Jasmine Kalra
"Usability is not just a step in the process. It's a way of thinking, it's a way of doing. It's not something for one group of people to work with – it's something that each and every member of our project teams needs to be aware of."
 
Jasmine Kalra
Vice President of Operations
Icreon Communications

Bringing Usability to All Levels of the Organization

by Sheldon Kreger

One of the most interesting aspects of usability analysis is that it draws individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Today, professionals at all levels of design and development need at least some level of knowledge in usability in order to do their jobs effectively. This is why Jasmine Kalra, Vice President of Operations for Icreon Communications in New Delhi, India, decided to become a Certified Usability Analyst.

Icreon is a global software development and consulting firm that helps businesses develop technology roadmaps that can then help drive efficiencies throughout the business and help them gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Icreon's services include software and web development, legacy migrations, IT consulting etc. Given the diverse nature of the business, Jasmine was able to immediately implement the things she learned at her job.

"I knew during the training what my goal was. I was able to speak with the trainers about changes I wanted to make at Icreon to integrate usability practices into our work. And how I could leverage this knowledge to design and deliver more effective solutions for our clients and hence drive greater ROI for them as well as for ourselves."

Jasmine started off as a web designer in 1999, and eventually moved on to project management positions. She has been instrumental in setting up the processes and systems in the company and is continually looking at ways to improve the project delivery mechanisms in the company. Now, she works as the Vice President of Operations. It's a multidisciplinary position which requires expertise in many areas.

Even before her CUA training, Jasmine and her team won the 2010 W3 Silver Award; the placed Icreon's design capabilities over those of 3000 other organizations that were competing for the title. Prior to this Icreon was also awarded the Channel World Award for Innovation in tough times from the IDG Group.

Jasmine describes her day-to-day work: "I work on three to four large projects at a time, but they change continuously. I work a lot with the internal teams, and the customer delivery teams. I also work directly with a few major clients, managing their accounts."

Despite her busy schedule, Jasmine has chosen to prioritize the implementation of usability practices not only on the projects she deals with directly, but across Icreon as a whole.

"There is a tremendous advantage to integrating usability concepts in our projects. It's something I want every team member to be aware of because it has such a profound impact on the quality of our designs and services."

"Because I am managing and assisting with so many projects, I try to do whatever I can for each. We are happy with any usability work we can do within the restraints of the project. Even small things like user information gathering techniques make a difference."

However, Jasmine isn't stopping with just ad hoc changes. She seeks to develop a mature usability practice at Icreon.

"Within the organization, I have identified a key group of people and the processes they use. From that core group, training will be completed throughout the organization."

Even though Jasmine doesn't have a strict "usability team," it's great to see how she is bringing the field of usability into the company's work. But, the time will come for Icreon to employ a full time usability team. In fact, this is the second step of Jasmine's two-phase plan.

"I'm trying to look at our process and see how we can integrate UX without making too big of an impact on our project time lines. The first step is to identify the people who show interest at Icreon and train them further. Eventually, we will have a full-fledged usability team which will work throughout the organization. At that point, we will be offering usability work as an additional service."

Jasmine realizes the value of incorporating usability work into Icreon's design and development processes. This is a very ambitious goal, given that Icreon has offices in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. But she is confident it will all work out.

"What I learned during the HFI training is that usability is not just a step in the process. It's a way of thinking, it's a way of doing. It's not something for one group of people to work with – it's something that each and every member of our project teams needs to be aware of. This is the best way to cultivate the results we seek."

CUA of the Month

Each month we highlight the successes and achievements of a different member of our CUA community. If you are a Certified Usability Analyst and would like to be considered for CUA of the Month recognition, please send a brief professional bio to hfi@humanfactors.com

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