The design team from our parent company, Nextgen, approached my team with a design project they felt was setup for failure.The requirement was to improve the process of documenting a patient examination. The current version of their product had failed and this redesign was supposed to be deployed within the next 6 months. That meant they only had about a month to hand something of to the development team.
My team had previously conducted ethnographies and we had actually witnessed all the workarounds doctors had managed to put into place in order to completely avoid using the current versions of this product. Some doctors had hired scribes to document their visit, others would dictate their visit notes and hire 3rd party services to do the transcription. The existing product was slow, didn't support their workflow, and was tedious to use. "Too many clicks" was a common complaint among users. We had a lot of ideas to improve this process but working within the time and resource constraints felt like we were setting ourselves up for failure because the product needed some drastic changes.
My team took 1 hour to come up with 4 different design concepts. Each option had varying levels of improvements along with a time and resource estimate. We presented all 4 options to upper management. The first option would consist of minor improvements. We made it clear that this option would not solve the fundamental issues in the existing product. Each option after that would featured more improvements paired with a request for more time and resources. The final option would be the ideal solution that would solve some of the root issues with the product. It would require us to start from scratch - this means going out into the field, creating prototypes, and thoroughly testing and validating our designs.
We managed to get managment to settle on Option B. My team started by creating a storyboard and a click-through of low-fidelity mockups. Our visual designer then created high-fidelity mockups from this. We were making somewhat of a bigger change to some of the existing interactions and felt the need to test it. I took this opportunity to create an interactive protytpe using HTML5, CSS, Bootstrap, and Angular. Although my team only spent 2 weeks on this project, we were able to create some valuable (and testable) artifacts for the other design team. They also came out of this design challenge feeling a lot more optimistic about their project.
Convincing upper management to give you the time and resources is a project in and of itself! Be strategic in the options you present to them. A big part of being a UX designer is being able to convince your audience that what you’ve done makes sense and is key to success. If you're unable to get the time and resources allocated to the project, set clear expectations as to what the team will be able to improve within the limited constraints.