Saturday, February 9, 2008

Testing and Roll Out: "Keep It Simple" Wins the Day

The decision to use BigBankTV required that TVs and PCs be located within the branches in mutually accessible places, and this was eventually to prove a considerable stumbling block. The original placement of the TVs within the Branches had been chosen to allow the whole of the staff to view BigBankTV broadcasts, whereas meeting the needs of an interactive training system required a more isolated setting. The Bank's Property department established that moving the TV with fittings and connections to a location that was compatible with both purposes would be very costly, and even physically impossible in some branches. So, late in the day, the NTCS team returned to the aim of incorporating the TV image within the PC. A number of ways of achieving this were identified:

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In the event, both the network-based suggestions were rejected because, in their different ways, they were judged to be too risky at this late stage in the project lifecycle. This left the first option of using the TV tuner card, which was not as forward looking as the other options, but was proven and did not require direct integration with the system.

The project survived this final alarm, and was eventually successfully rolled out into the branches. However, it is clear that this outcome owed little to a systematic, principled and early consideration of usability issues and rather more to the project team's capacity to salvage something from a crisis. Though this particular project was considered a success, we argue that coping with usability threats as they arise is, in general, a risky strategy for usability staff to pursue. Instead, they need to become more politically aware and seek out organizational positions that will enable them to foreground usability issues from the very beginning.

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