In this blog post, I’d like to share:

  • What I have learned about OCM and its importance
  • The ADKAR® Model for successful OCM
  • How UX and OCM are closely related and connected
  • A case study of implementing UX and OCM together

I enjoy being a User Experience (UX) Researcher. I like working with diverse user groups, learning about their needs, understanding their frustrations and challenges, coming up with solutions to address their pain points, and usually making corresponding design recommendations to improve various products that they use. It is rewarding to know that I can help improve people’s lives.

UX is an umbrella of multiple career pathways and skillsets, as Cory Lebson and other book collaborations described in The UX Careers Handbook. Therefore, UX is also a fascinating field, providing me with continuous learning and professional growth opportunities. Over the years of working on numerous projects, I’ve focused on user research and evaluation, information architecture, interaction design, content strategy, content writing/information design, technical communication, human factors, and accessibility.

Getting into OCM

AIS values continued learning, sharing, and technical excellence and the leadership encourages employees to be life-long students. Since I joined AIS in 2018, I have had many opportunities to grow professionally, which has helped me take more job roles and responsibilities that are beyond the traditional UX pathways and skillsets.

One of the new disciplines that I have learned, through internal and external projects, training, and learning, is OCM. As I learn more about it, I see more relevance and connections between UX and OCM. I increasingly believe becoming proficient with OCM not only benefits me as a UX Researcher to gain a new skill set, but also helps the users I work with, contributes to overall project success, and better serves my clients.

Importance of OCM

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “change is the only constant in life.” Constant change is true not only in people’s personal lives but also in organizations where digital transformation (DX) continually occurs. International Data Corporation (IDC) stated that “spending on the DX of business practices, products, and organizations will continue at a solid pace despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic” (Research Press Release, May 20, 2020).

According to Prosci, the leading change management research and development company, every organizational change includes the technical and people sides. Changes can fail, even though they meet technical requirements and milestones. Organizations must implement change management, which Prosci defines as “the process, tools, and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve a required business outcome.” It’s worth mentioning that change management is not only crucial in a business environment but also in people’s personal lives.

According to Prosci research, compared with initiatives with poor change management, efforts with excellent change management are:

  • Six times more likely to achieve project objectives
  • Five times more likely to stay on or ahead of schedule
  • Twice more likely to stay on or under budget

(Learn more: An Introduction to Change Management – download required)

Prosci ADKAR Model

Prosci specified that successful OCM is rooted in the change of individuals in the organization, one person at a time. To guide people to embrace, adopt, and sustain any change, Prosci founder Jeff Hiatt created the simple, but robust and effective ADKAR Model. ADKAR represents five building blocks for successful OCM:

  • A: Awareness of the need for change – “I get what is happening and why.”
  • D: Desire to support and participate in the change – “I choose to participate.”
  • K: Knowledge of how to change – “I know what to do and how to do this.”
  • A: Ability to implement required skills and behaviors – “I can do this.”
  • R: Reinforcement to sustain the change – “I will continue to do this.”

All these five elements must be in place before people change, and a change succeeds.

Relevance and Connection between UX and OCM

The ADKAR model focuses on the people side of change. UX centers around people, process, and technology. Both UX and OCM involve closely working with people. Through self-learning but primarily through collaborating on internal and external projects with my colleague Tacy Holliday, who specializes in OCM, I have learned about OCM basics and realized the relevance and connection between the UX and OCM disciplines.

I have found my UX background and skills help me understand OCM and its importance, which has led me to take advantage of my UX knowledge to OCM implementation. Equipped with both UX and OCM knowledge, UX practitioners can not only help improve the UX of a product but also help individuals adopt the product that they have helped evaluate and progress, which benefits these users and their organizations.

Some advantageous UX skills that I have found useful in OCM implementation include:

  • Using various user research methodologies, such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups will collect people’s feedback and understand their needs, pain points, concerns, and challenges
  • Practicing active listening and empathy with various user groups to improve people’s overall experiences while minimizing bias
  • Clear communication and frequent engagement with people, including using typical UX artifacts, such as wireframes, diagrams, or other graphics
  • Problem-solving skills to timely address people’s concerns, provide support and make recommendations

Case Study: Implementing UX and OCM Together

UX and OCM are naturally connected, and some activities in both areas can be carried out without additional efforts. This was proven successful when we helped a client, ACA Compliance Group, adopt Microsoft Teams (Teams) across their offices in various states of the US, the UK, and China. Our project team included a Project Manager, Cloud Engineer, Change Manager, UX researcher, and Business Analyst. During our 16-week engagement, we helped ACA achieve a 90% adoption rate of Teams, and ACA was well-positioned to achieve a 100% adoption rate by the target date.

At the beginning of the project, we conducted interviews and focus groups. We asked not only typical UX questions that focused on people’s needs, pain points, and challenges, but also requested typical OCM questions that assessed people’s readiness, awareness, and desire for change. The first two letters in the ADKAR model. We also collaborated around the other three ADKAR building blocks:

  • K: Knowledge: Conducting in-person and online training sessions to help individuals learn about Teams
  • A: Ability: Holding office hours to share Teams tricks and tips and answer people’s questions about using Teams in real situations
  • R: Reinforcement: Working with key stakeholders and making recommendations to reinforce and sustain Teams adoption and use

As a project team, our collaboration and having a shared understanding of the individuals that we worked with was crucial for us to support each other and ensure the overall project success.

We also used artifacts that came out of UX to illustrate the ideal change outcome and increase an individual’s desire for the change. For example, through user research, we learned and documented the existing difficult process for ACA employees to organize, schedule, and attend meetings, which involved various web conference tools, specific people, and high incurred costs (Figure 1). Then we illustrated how Teams could streamline and simplify this process (Figure 2). UX artifacts like these helped ACA employees see how Teams could help with their daily work, which increased their desire to adopt Teams. Individuals became excited with Teams’ features and capabilities and looked forward to using it. They no longer felt that Teams was another “cool tool” that they were forced to use, and that took time to learn.

Figure 1: Meetings before Teams

Figure 1: Organizing and Scheduling Meetings Before Adopting Teams

Figure 2: Meetings after Teams

Figure 2: Organizing and Scheduling Meetings After Adopting Teams

In summary, implementing both UX and OCM benefits both end-users and organizations that we work with. OCM is also a relevant and crucial discipline for UX practitioners to learn about and become more proficient with, helping us grow professionally. This is especially the case for those who have been in the UX field for years and are looking for new ideas and adventures beyond traditional UX pathways and skillsets.

For More Information

If you are interested in learning more:

A variety of screens displaying Power Platform capabilities
Microsoft recently released a lot of new capabilities in their business applications, including the Microsoft Power Platform, which combines Flow, Power BI, Power Apps, the Common Data Service for apps, and Dynamics 365. To help people gain insights into the power of these applications, the Microsoft Technology Center in Reston, VA offered a Microsoft Business Applications Workshop for Federal Government, which I attended with two AIS colleagues.

As a User Experience (UX) Researcher who joined AIS earlier this year, I am new to Microsoft business applications. In addition, code writing is not my job responsibility and expertise, unlike my two colleagues. However, I found the workshop intriguing and registered for it right away because it was designed to:

  • Help people gain an understanding of the business applications
  • Be “interactive,” with hands-on opportunity for attendees to build a working application
  • Include topics like “solution envisioning and planning” and “no-code business workflow deployment” (Note that the workshop did offer coding exercises for developers on the last day of the workshop, which I did not attend.)

Indeed, attending the workshop allowed me to see the possibilities of these Microsoft applications, which is very relevant to what I do as a UX Researcher. It motivated me to further explore resources on this topic to better meet the needs of our current and future clients.

The User-Centered Design Process

The first project that I worked on after joining AIS was to help a client understand their employees’ needs and collect user requirements for a new intranet to be built on Office 365. In addition, the key stakeholders wanted to:

  • Streamline and automate their business processes, workflows, and document management
  • Drive overall collaboration and communication within the organization

I had extensive experience conducting user research for websites and web applications. To collect employee insights for this new intranet, we followed a user-centered design process:

  1. We started by interviewing stakeholders, content owners, and general employees to understand:
    • Their existing intranet use, areas that worked well, and areas that needed to improve
    • Intranet content that is important to them
    • Existing business processes, workflows, document management, internal collaboration, and communication
  2. Based on the interview findings, we then:
    • Compiled a list of important content pieces that the new intranet should include
    • Set up an online card sorting study for the employees to participate to inform the information architecture (IA) of the new intranet
    • Documented employees’ needs and expectations in other business areas
  3. Proposed a draft IA for the new intranet based on card sorting findings
  4. Developed a wireframe intranet prototype (using Axure), which reflected the draft IA, contained employee desired content, and mimicked the Office 365 structure and capabilities
  5. Conducted remote usability testing sessions with stakeholders and general employees to evaluate the wireframe prototype
  6. Finalized the intranet prototype and documented UX findings and recommendations to help developers build the new intranet using Office 365 in the next phase

As shown above, we made sure that the Intranet would meet the needs and expectations of the stakeholders and general employees, before it was coded and developed. However, as a UX researcher who does not code, I did not develop our solutions using the Microsoft business applications. I was curious to see how my technical colleagues would apply the capabilities of these applications to improve, streamline, and automate business processes and workflows.

Our user research showed that employees experienced a lot of frustration and pain points during their daily work. For example, both managers and general employees complained that their business processes heavily relied on emails, email attachments, and even hand-written notes, which were easy to miss or misplace and hard to locate. They described how difficult it was for them to keep track of project progresses and updates, especially when people from multiple departments were involved. Some of them also mentioned they had to manually enter or re-enter data during a workflow, which was error-prone. All these were real and common business process problems.

The Power of the Power Platform

This workshop provided me with a starting point and a glimpse into the power of the business applications. I’m still learning about their full power, the technical descriptions or details, and the rationale or logic behind each step that we went through when we built the model-driven app during the workshop. However, I was excited to walk away knowing about:

  • The use of a single, connected, and secure application platform to help organizations break down silos and improve their business outcomes
  • The availability of hundreds of out-of-box templates, connectors, and apps, including those that our client can take advantage of and easily customize, such as for onboarding tasks, leave requests, expense reimbursements, and shout-outs to co-workers
  • Building solutions and applications quickly and easily with simple drag-and-drop user interface, without the need to write a single line of code
  • Higher work efficiency of business people and non-developers to achieve what they want to do independently, relying less on IT support or developers, reducing overall cost, and saving time

After the workshop, I found a wealth of online resources and videos on Microsoft Business Applications. Below are some Microsoft webpages that describe the similar content or steps that we went through during the workshop:

I look forward to more in-depth learning about this topic to better understand the power of Microsoft business applications. With this knowledge and together with my colleagues, we will propose and build the best business solutions based on user research, helping our clients achieve desired outcomes by improving their employee experience.