HFI | Syncrude corporate intranet case study

Syncrude - Corporate intranet

Usability is "mission critical" for Syncrude Canada Ltd.

The challenge

Syncrude Canada Ltd. is the world's largest producer of crude oil from oil sands and the largest single-source producer in Canada.

As one of Canada's top 100 employers, quality and accessibility have always been important attributes for Syncrude. That's why it was mission critical that the development ofmySyncrude.com be user-centered. As an Intranet platform for managing Syncrude's information assets, mySyncrude.com was to be a primary entry point and interface for all applications and information that users needed to perform their day-to-day work. Because most would be "casual users" such as field technicians, it had to be easy to learn, and information had to be easy to access.

The approach

HFI and Syncrude took a two-prong approach to ensure the usability of the Intranet platform:

  1. User-centered design and testing, and
  2. Standards for future development

The design and testing was completed through the application of usability training and consulting, while the standards process was jumpstarted with the use of HFI's Usability Central Gold® product.

The outcome

The Syncrude developers successfully incorporated usability principles and standards – in effect "institutionalizing" usability into the design process.

Benefits and measures of success
  • User acceptance
    Immediate acceptance of mySyncrude.com by the user population.
  • Less time spent in training
    • It used to take up to a day to train users on similar software tools. Now, most users are up and running within 10 to 15 minutes.
    • Even inexperienced users take less than an hour to get oriented.
  • Dramatic improvement in productivity
    • Team leaders are now able to put together their monthly reports in less than 15 minutes, compared with the one to two hours it used to take.
    • Field workers are able to find information they need in minutes and get back to work without wasting time looking for crucial data.
  • More time to focus on content and user needs
    Because usability issues were addressed before roll-out of the Intranet, energy can now be spent on providing richer, more useful content rather than on user support.
  • Widespread use of software tools
    Tools available on mySyncrude.com were used throughout the company, from the president to the technicians in the field, from casual to expert users.
  • Developers thinking more like users
    • Syncrude developers and designers are now armed with clear usability principles and standards, making it easier to incorporate user-centered design principles into their projects.
    • Usability is becoming part of the corporate culture and provides an added competitive advantage.

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“In terms of system projects, this has probably been one of the more successful projects in our organization. And it has been well received.”

“Now we have the president of our company using this tool, right down to the individual on the shop floor and in the field. That's very gratifying for us to know, that we have a tool that is actually being used – from the casual user to the expert user.”

Jeff Thompson - Corporate Presentation Layer Business Lead, Syncrude Canada, Ltd.

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