User personas for enterprise software – The What & Why
Creating user personas forms the base for successful design projects and more so in the case of enterprise software.
Enterprise software is a domain where the stakeholders involved in the design process might not necessarily be the users of the same product or modules.
This often leads to a disconnect between the buyer and the user expectations from the software.
A great way to counter this is to create effective user personas.
User personas help you correctly identify who your end-users are, their needs and expectations from this piece of enterprise software.
What are user personas?
User personas refer to fictional characters created to represent a user type that might use the site, brand, or product in a similar way.
These are great tools to understand your users’ needs, experiences, behaviours and goals. And thus are used widely across Marketing and Design.
The simplicity of user personas might mislead you into believing that creating user personas is the same for different domains. However, you couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Although the skill set required is similar, you need to be aware of the nuances of each domain when you create personas.
Designing user personas for enterprise software
Designing enterprise software personas requires a substantially different approach vis-à-vis. consumer software.
This is so because, in most cases the stakeholders are not the primary users of the product.
The users belong to different departments of the organisation, and often have goals & motivations different from one another.
User personas help you personalise the onboarding process basis their function. Thus, an accountant and a salesperson will have different onboarding processes.
Here are a few tips to help you create user personas when designing for enterprise software.
Who is the actual user?
As stated before, the buyer might not necessarily be the user, and thus, it is highly crucial to identify the primary user.
Considering their jobs and duties in the organization, their routines and patterns add value to the persona creation process.
What users do? vs What they want?
During the user interviews, the enterprise resource planning users often provide contradictory views on what they want. It might be because their wants are often influenced by their job insecurities and frustrations. Focusing on what they do and their KPIs help in defining an MVP.
What are the user's fears and motivations?
Most users are averse to change. This might be because they fear the potential failure as they lack knowledge about the new system. It could also be the insecurity about transparency that the software enforces. When designing something that can probably disrupt the users’ routines, it is very important to acknowledge and accordingly address these fears when designing user personas.
Your user research should validate the motivations and incentives pre-identified by the organisation. These are usually the core operations that the user is responsible for. A badly designed software could affect the motivation of the user and thus threaten the prospects of earning the incentives.
Identifying the fears and motivations of the user also helps when designing user personas. It aids in deciding how much to educate, instruct and inform the users while designing the experience.
What are the key responsibilities?
Be well aware of the users’ backgrounds, their interdependencies on other users and general functions in the organisation. This helps serve two intended purposes of enterprise software – increasing productivity and minimising inefficiency. The first goal for enterprise UX is to help the user carry out her core operations with higher efficiency.
It also helps in limiting information overload and the limited exposure to the software helps people feel more comfortable and confident about using it.
There are more ways to think about the personas for enterprise software users. We’ve listed only a few important ones that we consider in the UX research projects.
If you would like to read a more practical application of our methods, here’s a case study on redesigning an enterprise software.