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Managing Complexity through Human-Centered Design

In today’s digitally connected world, there is increasing tension between the growing complexity of software and the demand for simplicity in the user experience. And with business processes, customer needs, and software requirements evolving more rapidly than ever before, the outcome is often bloated and clunky user experiences that no one wants to look at (much less use). So it is not surprising that human-centered design becomes the key to managing this complexity. It is this focus that allows us to transform complex, historically feature-driven services into beautiful, functional and collaborative software applications.

Organizational complexity and dynamic systems

Take the work with did for BMC Software, for example. BMC approached Artefact to update MyIT, their award-winning internal IT service. MyIT 2.0 puts the power in the employee’s hands by helping them quickly solve routine technical problems on their desktop or mobile device, crowdsource answers and information, and visually navigate resources in any organization. By giving customers the tools to be self-sufficient and collaborative, BMC has added more than 100 customers with more than a million seats since the launch of MyIT 2.0. As FastCo Labs proclaimed, “Enterprise software doesn’t have to suck.”

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Clarity, communication and collaboration: managing complexity when lives are at stake

Another great example of this is the concept application we created for Seattle Children’s Hospital. It is incredibly complex for medical workers to collaborate and communicate in a medical care environment across the process of a patient’s admittance to discharge. Their existing solutions failed to take advantage of the visualizations, quick annotation capability, and multimedia aspects of devices like tablets and smartphones. Their staff needed a tool that was flexible in the way it retrieved information and allowed for communication across the patient care ecosystem. To address these issues, we created the Seattle Children’s Hospital Patient Information System.

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For this application, we honed in on a single goal: discharging the patient. We focused all our simplification efforts on creating an application that provides an easy, seamless way to prioritize and collaborate around a patient’s needs. The Seattle Children’s Hospital Patient Information System is a prototype that demonstrated how outcome-focused thinking can help alignment, communication and collaboration between medical staff. And at a time when the promise of Electronic Health Records to improve care remains elusive, this is not a small feat.

Complexity and the big picture

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10,000ft was born out of a need for a resource planning tool that could keep up with the pace of work in our own office. We needed a tool that would give us the ability to collaboratively adjust plans, reshuffle priorities, or reassign employees while showing us the overall picture of all the projects in the organization. 10,000ft is a design-inspired visual resource collaboration tool that allows dynamic organizations and the creative thinkers they employ to get a big-picture view of their business, teams, and projects. We designed and developed the application for us, but eventually spun it off into its own successful company. Today 10,000ft helps their clients increase profitability by giving them a clearer picture of their utilization and client budgets.