This section includes some of my most recent work. Other work can be found in the side menu by category (Design Leadership, UX Design, Information Design, and Visual Design).

Restructuring of Design Competency

Before my arrival at Caseware, there was no centralized Design function. Designers had been hired on an ad hoc basis by the development teams, reporting into their respective product squads in a very siloed environment. This operating model presented some serious challenges to both efficiency and product quality.

To address these issues, we restructured Caseware’s Design competency into two operational units. Product Design was centralized as an entity separate from the individual product squads. This restructuring improved operational efficiency, provided designers with broad cross-platform experience, and improved consistency in the look and feel of the company’s products and platforms. Design Operations was established to execute on essential initiatives that improved the team’s operational efficiency, reduced design and technical debt, and increased consistency throughout the product development life cycle.

We also made significant changes to the design career ladder, creating an entirely new system for career development involving parallel management and individual contributor career tracks, with clear guidelines for progression and corresponding performance criteria.

The combination of team restructuring and development of the dual-track career ladder led directly to increased engagement (from 58% to 77%) among the entire Design team, as well as reducing staff turnover to zero.

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Integration of UX into the Software Development Life Cycle

As a 35-year-old software company transitioning from the desktop to the cloud, Caseware’s software development life cycle (SDLC) was very fragmented and siloed, and UX’s role within it was unclear.

Working with Product and Development leaders, we established a cross-functional collaboration model for the product “triad”, consisting of representation from Product, UX, and Development. In this structure, each role influences and contributes to the output of the others. Our cross-functional approach was divided into three phases. Each phase was led by one of Product, UX, or Development, although all parts of the triad played a role throughout the entire process.

This cross-functional approach eliminated silos between functional areas, resulting in improved communication and more consistent results. It combined multiple perspectives, leading to more accurate identification of problems and improved insights into solving them. Decision-making was improved significantly, since the team’s diverse range of skills and expertise made them more effective at solving complex problems. The collaborative approach also improved knowledge sharing, reducing secrecy and “information hoarding while improving the development of new skills across the team.

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Establishment of UX Research Competency

For most of its history, UX research did not exist at Caseware. Overall product strategy and individual product decisions were based on the opinions of in-house industry experts, who determined customer needs entirely by intuition acquired through their own experiences as auditors (often from decades earlier). We therefore made the decision to build a UX Research competency to provide evidence-based product decisions.

This involved hiring an experienced research leader, then developing a long-term UX Research strategy and a roadmap for its implementation, and building a UX Research team. This new team developed a robust user testing program, identified key customer and operational performance metrics, and created a system for their measurement, tracking, and analysis They also created a series of training sessions on identifying the various forms of cognitive bias, and how to minimize their effects through asking non-leading questions.

Our combination of process changes and training resulted in a new appreciation of the value of user research throughout the Product organization, and continuing UX research was successfully inserted into every stage of the product life cycle, allowing us to identify and focus on business and user problems that were truly important to our customers.

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Design of a Workflow-Driven Document Management System

PwC’s Tax practice wanted to replace their primary engagement tool, the Document Management System (DMS), as it was expensive to maintain, difficult to customize, and increasingly ineffective and frustrating to use. It was therefore decided that the DMS would be replaced by a new system built in Microsoft Sharepoint Online (SPO). To this end, our team was retained to design a user experience that would meet the needs of various users across the tax practice.

The process involved an extensive review of the existing DMS architecture, as well as user interviews with representatives from each of the Tax practice groups to determine workflow and current state “pain points”. The optimal user flow was mapped and validated, and a future-state information architecture was designed to parallel the user flow, provide an intuitive structure for document storage and retrieval, and scale up effectively as engagements were added to the DMS. We engaged the core team — many of whom were tax experts themselves — before validating the designs in 7 usability testing sessions, uncovering insights about how the designs worked best, or where they could work better.

The response to the final design was extremely positive, with the majority of participants rating it 5/5 in a post-study survey (with the lowest rating being 4/5).

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Redesign of an Enterprise Risk Management Board Reporting System

Each quarter, the bank’s Chief Risk Officer (CRO) is required to prepare an Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) report for review by the Risk Committee of the bank’s Board of Directors. However, the existing Board Reports were not meeting the future needs of the Board to help them make the best governance decisions effectively and efficiently. The CRO retained PwC’s Design team to redesign this reporting system so that it provided more useful insights to the Board.

Our design team employed a user-centred design methodology that effectively captured the needs of Board members and reduced delivery time compared to traditional report redesign projects. By applying Information Design best practices, we produced informative reports that were easy to read and allowed Board members to make governance decisions more efficiently. Ultimately, the ERM Report was transformed to provide a clearer and more insightful story of risk.

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