Enterprise Software Suite • 2014 to 2021
From June 2014 to December 2021, I worked for the enterprise software company SAP on their Cloud HR suite SuccessFactors. I wore two hats there: one as a Product Designer, and another as a User Researcher.
I worked as Lead Product Designer on several apps built for HR business partners, system admins, IT personnel, and employees to use. Some of these tools have been very big and complex, others are very small and simple. On most of these projects, I was responsible for the entire end-to-end UX process: learning as much as I can about the problems we're trying to solve, learning about our users, sketching, wireframing, prototyping, testing, and more -- all leading up to overseeing the product's actual development. There's nothing more rewarding than speaking with customers about how a tool I designed has improved their workflow or made their job somehow easier or more efficient. Oh! One other cool thing is that two admin systems I designed have been patented by SAP -- this one and this one.
On the other side, as a User Researcher, I plan and conduct several research projects a month spanning the entirety of SuccessFactors' product line alongside several other researchers. These could be usability tests, user interviews, concept validation studies, customer-facing workshops, or something else entirely. It all depends on the questions the product teams are trying to answer. I am responsible for then presenting the findings of the research I conduct to the product teams and any other stakeholders.
Although I knew next-to-nothing about HR or HR Software when I started at SuccessFactors in 2014, I've learned a ton about it over time. Although this role has been challenging, and the problems we're solving are often quite complicated, I've found it to be an amazing and rewarding place to hone my UX and User Research skills. It also gives me virtually limitless opportunities to speak to our actual users regularly about their preferences and pain points, something any good UX-er will tell you makes a world of difference.
Here is a sampling of design projects I worked on at SAP SuccessFactors
( Click on any screenshot to enlarge it )
Intelligent Services Editor
I worked solo as the lead designer and researcher on this tool, which allows HR Admins to create rules/workflows that automatically occur when certain 'events' happen in their system (e.g., when an employee takes a leave of absence, when they change locations, etc.) This was a tool that had to be built from the ground-up, but without any changes to how the SuccessFactors software suite works. The process entailed learning about and taking into account a boatload of significant system constraints and then creating a user flow and UI that was open-ended/scaleable while still being logical and quick-to-learn. I ran several HR Admins through tests of the design across this process to ensure it was meeting these goals.
I worked solo as the lead designer and researcher on this tool, which allows HR Admins to create and manage 'extensions' of the SuccessFactors suite to meet whatever needs they have at their respective companies. To do this, I had to work around an existing extensibility architecture within SuccessFactors called the "MetaData Framework (MDF)" that had been created years before. This project was, in essence, about creating a tool that tied all of the disconnected elements of MDF together in a learnable/usable way.
After conversations with PMs and customers, I decided to approach this tool from the perspective that the HR Admin users are, in a sense, 'building their own app' within SuccessFactors (which we eventually ended up calling an 'extension'). This 'extension' can leverage any pieces of data (as well as new, user-created data) within SuccessFactors to perform whatever functions it needs to. These pieces of data, however, are not all the same. They have varying properties, and require their own separate user experiences to configure and control. The complexity was enough to make my head spin -- in a good way; these epic kinds of design problems are often the most rewarding and fun to chew on and solve. Eventually, through a channel of constant collaboration with our PMs and Developers, I was able to come up with a UX/UI design that tied it all together and that, most importantly, made system configuration easier for our Admin users.
I worked solo as the lead designer and researcher on this project, a redesign of a very pivotal existing framework within our suite called Role-Based Permissions (RBP). With this tool, HR Admins are able to say who (i.e., which groups of employees) is allowed to see and do what (i.e., perform actions and view/change certain data in the system) to which other groups of users. RBP provides a backbone for the entire suite and forms essential employee action hierarchies at an organization. The existing UX for configuring RBP had been developed piecemeal over time and was feeling quite fragmented. This project was meant to simplify and unify that user experience without changing the way the backend in any way. The design was never able to come to fruition due to changing business needs, but it tested well in usability tests with Admins and I hope it will one day be developed.
I worked solo as lead designer and researcher on this tool, which takes an HR Admin through the process of creating an 'integration' (a connector file that allows SuccessFactors to connect in various ways with third-party systems). After back-and-forth with customers, the product/development team and I discovered there was a certain step-by-step process for creating and launching integrations that both made sense logistically and also contoured well to our admin users' mental models. Given this, we chose a wizard-style UX/UI that guides the user through the complex process in a simple, 5-step way. After this tool was released, we heard from many admins that it saved them days, sometimes weeks, of cumbersome configuration time and made their work life significantly easier. One of the best feelings in the world as a UX Designer!
Data Retention Center
I worked as lead designer and researcher on this tool concept that allowed HR Admins to monitor their company's use of cloud storage on the SuccessFactors platform, which used an abstract 'storage units' taxonomy, rather than the conventional 'byte' taxonomy. My job was to make an easy-to-digest, sliceable/diceable interactive breakdown of storage use that the Admin could explore. This design also introduced the novel concept of 'recommended purge rules' based off of an company's cloud storage use. If you had a ton of performance form data clogging up your system, for instance, the system would generate a rule that would automatically delete performance form data of terminated employees after a certain number of years, and so on.
Release & Upgrade Center
I worked as lead designer and researcher on this tool that allows HR Admin teams learn about and create game-plans for upcoming quarterly releases of SAP SuccessFactors. Each quarterly release comes with a slew of updates. Some updates are mandatory -- Admins must simply educate themselves on them and know the changes they entail. On the other hand, some updates are optional. In this case, Admins must not only learn about the upgrade but decide if they want to opt-in or opt-out of it. In many cases, there may be more nuance to a decision (e.g., an upgrade that is a 'No' right now, but may be reevaluated at a later date). The main goal of this UX was to apply a clear workflow onto this quarterly process and help teams go through release notes efficiently and prioritize what they want to invest their energies into.
On one of my first projects at SAP SuccessFactors, I worked as a designer on a large team responsible for a complete reimagining of our software's employee profile. This profile, which shows basically any and all information about an employee that is stored in the system, consisted of dozens of modular 'portlets' which could be toggled on/off based on whether a company wanted to display them or not. I led design on two of these portlets: 'Organizational Chart', which allows users to see who someone's manager(s) and direct report(s) are in one simple view, and also 'Tags' which allows a person to tag themselves or others with keywords that apply to their skills or interests. In addition, I also helped on the People Profile Configuration experience, which allows Admins to set up their company's employee profile layout and display options.