We were delighted when SuccessFactors Employee Central's feature Document Generation was shortlisted as one of the five Usability Testing topics to be tested by different stakeholders like SAP Customers, Prospects, Partners and Consultants in UK & Ireland SAP User Group Conference 2015, Birmingham, UK. It was a great opportunity for me being a developer to understand the End User's prospective and expectations about the product.
Let me briefly introduce about our feature Document Generation. Employees need certain official Documents/Letters like Address Proof, Years of Service/Experience Letter, Promotion Letter, Transfer Letter etc. for their personal and professional use. An HR administrator can create new or edit the existing document template as per company needs, maintain necessary mapping of dynamic content in the template with the master data and generate these documents in a format such as PDF or Word and also trigger an email to employee with document as attachment, for an employee upon request and then send it either via email or the administrator can download the same. Document Generation was considered as a major gap in Employee Central functionality.
About Usability testing, it is a method by which we test users to see if our product functions for them. During a test we will have a list of tasks for the user to complete while observers watch, Notes Taker take notes and listen. We attended necessary trainings to understand Usability Testing and also about different roles in testing. We prepared the moderator and observer scripts where testers have to perform few tasks without much of explanation as we wanted to see how intuitive the product is. Also we wanted to hear what they are thinking while performing the tasks and we used the think aloud protocol and recorded the complete interaction with the testers. We had prepared a set of questions to be asked after completing each task to know how easy system was for them. There are mainly 3 roles in this testing. Moderator, who prepares the scripts with the tasks and assists the testers on each task if needed. Here we also keep track of how much assistance was needed for each task and where tester faced difficulties and where it was easy for them. Observer, who also has a script with him/her and observes the actions of tester and how system is behaving to them and provides his/her feedback later. Notes taker, who listens and makes note of tester's feedback, suggestions and reactions which can be used later to further develop the user experience of the system. Once the usability testing is over, based on the feedback, a formative report is prepared which helps the architects, product owners and developers to analyze where they did well, where they could have been better, what could have been avoided and finally make changes in the system to improve the usability.
For Document Generation, testers had to assume themselves as HR administrator of a certain company where they had to create templates, map the dynamic content to data in system and generate the desired documents for chosen employees. First task was to create a new template for Experience Letter for SAP UK. Tester had to type out the complete Experience Letter which contains static text which is common for all employees and dynamic data termed as placeholders which is specific to an employee. Tester can create template for a specific country with any locale as well. Most of the testers were happy to see how simple it was to create templates which allowed to add logos, perform basic formatting and inserting placeholders. This task also included the mapping of placeholders to master data in employee central. For testers who were completely new to the product felt the mapping was little confusing and cumbersome. While mapping, they needed little assistance from us to understand the different mappings we provide and also a help section in mapping screen which guides them or provides a cheat sheet to quickly perform the mappings of all placeholders. Next task was to generate the experience letter for any employee which was a simple operation for all of them. Third task was to generate a promotion letter for an employee by providing different dates. For same placeholders and same mapping, data can be different for an employee for different time slices which they found very helpful option. Overall creating or editing existing template , mapping placeholders and generating documents were not so difficult for them though they were not so familiar with the system. They all performed these tasks without much of assistance except few cases.
We also got valuable feedback from testers which we couldn't have thought as developers. Few suggestions are, position of Placeholder creation button, add option to upload an image from local system, providing help section to understand mapping of placeholders to data fields in the system, add Preview button to view how generated document looks before downloading or emailing to employee, more clear error and warning messages and easy navigation between screens. We also showed them the mock ups of ESS/MSS scenarios where an employee can him/herself can generate document or request their manager to generate certain documents for them and also document storage screen to view and store the generated documents. We also discussed on our future road map of the product like introducing mass generation of documents.
Among the testers we had people with different backgrounds like Ux Developer, Pre Sales Consultant, Architect etc. So we got to see the product from different end user's perspective and it was an excellent learning experience for me. I would like to thank our Engineering Lead Priyanka Porwal who was also moderator in this testing, my manager Prashanth Baliga and our team Product Owner Swathi Chaganti for their valuable help/suggestions and providing me this opportunity to interact with customers.