I explain how you can identify the different personas in your organisation, develop their persona profiles, identify their personal pain points and build a digital strategy to make their job easier.
This episode of the Digital Workplace Podcast is sponsored by Virtco Consulting.
Welcome to the Digital Workplace Podcast. Here to help you work smarter and get more done! In 2000 he build a custom Linux distribution for the Jaguar Racing Formula 1 team. Here is your host, our resident digital workplace expert, Grant Crawley.
Personas are not new, they’re not digital either. So why am I talking about them today? Well, they’re an extremely useful tool to have in your toolbox as you try to enable your organisation become digital. Digital ways of working are not a one size fits all approach, so you need to identify the cohorts of users in your organisation who have roughly the same needs. For example a remote worker will have different needs to a warehouse operative.
In this episode I’m going to explain how you can identify the different personas in your organisation, develop their persona profiles, identify their personal pain points and build a digital strategy to make their job easier, more productive and less stressful for them.
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Like I said earlier, personas are not new. If you come from a marketing background you may know them as your “ideal customer avatar”, or from law enforcement a “profile”. So why are they useful in the modern digital workplace?
Personas are used as a guide to help you make decisions. As you go along your digital workplace journey there are many decision points along the way. Often those decisions are different for different groups of people, because they face different challenges, and those decisions may be counter-intuitive to the person making them. The decisions you make for yourself or what you perceive as the best for the organisation may not be correct in the context you’re making them.
It’s much easier to make the right decisions if you know who you are making them for, that way you can analyse their needs and weigh up the costs and benefits of the various options to suit both the organisation and the individual.
I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to create a set of personas, what’s important is that you engage with people across a wide variety of roles and responsibilities across the organisation.
The most important thing you must do with your personas is make them individual, they are an aggregation of data but it makes it much easier to relate to them if you give them a name, and age and a photo. Give them a job title and a bit of personal background. The aim of personas is to build empathy with them so you and your team can make decisions more easily. People do not empathise with groups, but the do empathise with individuals. So if ”Rebecca” is having a terrible time with her desktop pc, slow booting, crashing a lot and she’s getting headaches because of eye strain, your team can empathise with that much more easily than they can with “the accounts receivable team” have some issues with slow boot-up, system crashes and their screens are too small. Make the issues, needs and wants real and relate them to real-sounding people.
Personas are not a demographic split, so don’t break them into age ranges or have able-bodied/disabled personas. Your digital workplace should be age agnostic and accessible for all.
There are two basic sets of data you will collect to build your personas, there will be objective data and subjective data. Objective data is data you can measure objectively, like how many emails the people in a particular role send and receive on a daily or weekly basis, how many hours they work, what their hourly cost is to the business, and what equipment they currently use.
Subjective data is data you can’t measure objectively, it’s more about feelings and intuition. It’s things like how tired people feel, whether they are happy doing certain tasks, what makes their job harder or easier to accomplish. Subjective data is much more difficult to establish a baseline for, harder to define and difficult to know whether it’s possible to significantly influence. However, though it’s difficult to establish, it certainly yields great value if you can tap into that data set effectively.
They way I start to define personas is to firstly look at broad roles in your organisation. For example you may have office workers, shop-floor production workers and field-based workers. Of course you can break them down further, and depending on the size and complexity of your organisation you will almost certainly want to.
So let’s look at the two data sets in a little more depth.
What devices do they have: desk phone with direct dial and a wired headset, desktop computer with a keyboard, mouse and large screen, printer
How many emails do they receive in an average day: 120
How much memory is installed in their computer: 8GB
That’s all objective data. So how about subjective data…
Good questions to ask are things along the lines of “With respect to x what is your biggest or number 1 challenge?” – this is an open-ended question but can yield some extremely valuable insights into what the pain points are.
How long is it before you need to take a break from the screen?: Here you can give some ranges, and it’s going to help you understand whether the screen they have is fit for purpose.
How do you feel at the end of a typical day or week? Do they feel good or bad…
Why is that? This can yield some pain points that accumulate over time.
For each persona, give them a name. It’s not one person, but an aggregation of the data you have collected. Build a day in the life of each persona so you can visualise their working day from starting work to ending work – even if that spills over their contracted hours.
So that was a fairly typical office worker set of objective data, for a field-based worker it’s likely to be very different. They may have a mobile phone, tablet or laptop, Bluetooth headset etc. All mobile tech. Their subjective data is likely to be different too, while an office worker’s number one challenge may be computer start-up speed in the morning a field-based worker’s challenge may be lack of connectivity or struggling with getting the various bits of tech to talk to each other properly.
This is why personas are so valuable, they allow you to quantify and identify issues. If you have no mechanism to identify the issues, the chances of finding a solution to them is almost nil. Those issues define your user stories which you score and prioritise to make the best possible decisions to improve your digital workplace.
Once you know who your personas are, who they work with and interact with, what tools they need and the value they can deliver for the organisation you are in a much better place to build your digital workplace strategy. Now you can make choices about software tools, infrastructure, hardware and work styles.
It’s certainly better to start with a few key personas, don’t overcomplicate them. If you find they’re not serving the purpose well then you can add more, split them or even pivot them around and view your organisation from a different perspective. There is no hard and fast rule that says they must be divided the way I’ve given in my examples here, if it makes more sense for your organisation to split geographically, or by department then try it that way.
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