Our clients rely on RevGen Partners to translate their ideas into digital solutions that result in a competitive advantage and offer value to their customers. To do this, we have developed a deliberate approach that balances the rigor and discipline necessary to build a viable solution with the creativity needed to make that solution successful.
Previously, we’ve discussed the importance of establishing and socializing the project vision. Teams that have invested the time and effort into the planning phase should be heading into application design with a set of requirements detailing “what” needs to be built, a blueprint on how do so, and a team who understands their role and expectations.
Now we get to the exciting part — designing your solution. This is where your product vision starts to come to life. Project design perfectly reflects digital solutions, balancing the science of software engineering with the art of design. Software architects assess various technologies and select design patterns while UI designers work on designing workflows and interfaces. Business owners collaborate with the development team to align processes and business rules with data models and user experience flows.
To help organize all these efforts, we break the Design phase into three areas:
Design Future State Processes
Map out the user experience
Design the architecture
Let’s take a closer look at each of them:
Future State Process Design
From a process perspective, this is a prime opportunity to zoom out, take a critical look at what the future application design process should be, and create a foundation to align the user experience and architecture. Too often, we see inertia and history guide process design, leading to significant inefficiencies; “Because that’s how we do it now” is not an acceptable answer!
As teams focus on business processes, they evaluate the requirements produced during the planning stage to determine how things should work in the future. There is a balance between the science of designing the future state around requirements with the art of challenging the status quo.
When designing future state processes, there are many process mapping methodologies and tools such as Lean Six Sigma, Value Stream Mapping, Kaizen, SIPOC, and others. RevGen can help guide you on what makes the most sense for your organization.
Regardless of tooling, it is crucial to provide a solid foundation heading into development so the team can build a solution to effectively enable the desired future state.
While functional and technical requirements should be aligned and documented at this point in the project, these requirements may not convey UX considerations, especially if UX experts are just being brought onto the project. Without a deliberate UX design effort, the user journey and key interactions can be overlooked.
We recommend designating specific UX roles as part of the project team to solely focus on the user experience. While this does represent an investment, the benefits in usability that drive adoption and minimize rework are well worth it.
It’s important to have developers focused on the “how”, where UX/CX roles focus on the “why”. These resources are charged with advocating for the UX and cross-referencing every requirement to ensure it is thoughtfully integrated into the overall application design. The magic happens in the collaboration when the UX team and the developers thoughtfully design a holistic solution.
The following UX activities are typically part of the design phase:
Development of user personas and profiles
User journey mapping
Creation of use cases
Keep in mind, the goal of this phase is to identify pain points, understand the order of operations in which a user interacts with the application, and use this information to drive efficiency and adoption through the best user experience possible. It is also worth noting that these activities vary based on whether the application will be used internally (employee experience) or externally (customer experience).
Design the Architecture
With solid technical and functional requirements, the architecture team can get to work. During design, they will undertake the following activities:
Select the technology stack
Identify and document different architectural components
Design and prove out a strong architectural foundation
When designing the architecture, the team aims to establish a strong technical foundation for the project to ensure its successful delivery. This involves selecting the most suitable tech stack by evaluating various factors, including compatibility with the client’s existing system and suitability for the project.
Infrastructure is another crucial consideration, with a focus on scalability, security, and sustainability. The software design must account for the segregation of concerns to ensure each component of the software focuses on a single responsibility. This decoupling makes it easier to manage and update the business logic.
In addition, the software design should allow for scalability by being able to scale-up (bigger servers) or scale-out (more, parallel servers), depending on the system’s needs, enabling it to handle increasing traffic or processing demands. The team evaluates all the detailed requirements and technical capabilities to build an elegant design.
To manage risks, the team may conduct small and targeted proof-of-concepts. It is vital to gather feedback from the client and customers frequently throughout the project’s development. This feedback ensures that the software meets the client’s needs and optimizes the customer experience. Ultimately, we aim to build a strong technical foundation for the project.
Designing a digital solution that delivers a competitive advantage and offers value to customers requires a balance between the rigor and discipline of software engineering and the creativity of design. The Design phase is where we see the product vision come to life; it involves designing the future state processes, mapping out the user experience, and designing the architecture.
Focusing on future state process design ensures that the user experience and architecture are aligned with the intended business processes. A deliberate UX design effort is critical to ensuring a positive user experience that drives adoption and minimizes rework. Finally, selecting the right tech stack, designing a scalable and secure infrastructure, and gathering feedback from clients and customers are all essential elements of the design architecture phase.
At RevGen, we have developed an approach to application design that takes all these factors into account, resulting in digital solutions that meet our clients’ needs and exceed their expectations. To learn more, visit our Digital Enablement site.
Kevin Able is a Principal Architect in RevGen’s Digital Enablement practice. He is passionate about delivering practical solutions that drive value to his clients.
Heidi Schneider is a senior manager with an extensive background delivering complex business transformation efforts. She is passionate about integrating people, process, and technology to make strategy happen.
Colin Elliott is an Architect with RevGen Partners, having over 10 years of experience in web development across telecom, healthcare, geospatial, e-commerce, and supply-chain/planning. He’s a huge advocate of open-source software/hardware and enjoys keeping up with the latest web innovations.
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