Thursday, November 20, 2014

the Happy App- my journey of developing intelligent internal apps

Developing new and valuable products and services is not an easy thing, and it always comes with some pressure. Especially when we talk about internal ones, that your peers will use. My colleagues are my users. The last thing I want is to waste my peers' time, decrease their productivity, confuse them or make them contribute less to IBM business. As an IBMer who has been honored to work in a team developing new, beautiful and intelligent apps for other IBMers, I feel that responsibility every second. There have been many nights that I spent asking myself: is this really helping my colleagues be more productive, perform better? is it fast enough? does it bring everything they need? is it helping them shape their behavior and preparing them for the future? if they will use it daily, will they be able to make more clients happy? and the list goes on...
As all companies are racing to become more mobile- from equipping their employees with smartphones or tablets to creating simple apps for their teams to work smarter (unless you consider buying some), I am very sure that someday you will come close enough to a situation where you will have to develop or deploy some. Although my journey continues, here are the learnings so far:
  1. THANK USERS- the same way you'd thank an external client for buying your new product, don't forget to thank your peers for trying your tool, providing feedback or sharing the app with another peer. Find ways to reward them and even publicly acknowledge their contribution. It doesn't cost anything to copy their manager on a note or post a nice message on their profile page. For great contributors think inviting them for lunch or bringing them over to meet your team. Happy users will spread the word to their teams, will be your ambassadors and won't hesitate providing feedback on new features when asked.
  2. DON'T FORGET UX - just because I am an IBMer, it doesn't mean I know how all IBMers think and would interact with the tool. I often hear people talking about "sellers" or "managers" when referring to my users, however users may have way less in common than we think. Especially when you talk different ages, cultures, men, women, small hands, big hands, good vision, poor vision, millenial or not, low or high performer, new or seasoned employee...Talking to as many as possible is key to understanding how they will use the apps and what they need.
  3. REPLY FAST-I often see how comments and questions lay abandoned in some obsolete forums. However if you have a community, email address or section in the app where people provide feedback, make sure that answers are being provided instantly or in max 24h. After all you don't want to look like you don't care.
  4. KEEP IT SIMPLE - again don't assume that because you have the same employer, both you and your users speak the same language, have the same understanding, vocabulary or preferences. Your app should be simple enough even for an external person or a new hire to understand it.
  5. GOOD SPEED and GOOD USABILITY- if you design an app then it means people will use it on their mobile devices. If so then be prepared to compete for their time and attention with Facebook, Linked.IN, other apps and tons of social games. Your app needs to be super fast and have good usability. Otherwise people will play with something else :)
  6. MIX TALENT Having members in your team coming from external agencies, IT, marketing, sales, designers, and other parts of the business will help increase the creativity and usability of your app. Don't think only IT people can build stuff for IT, or only that Finance knows what accountants need.
  7. BE COMPETITIVE Building stuff for your own company is not easy work- you need to manage conflicts, be ready to fight for accessing data or compete or collaborate with other apps that are being deployed at the same time.
  8. BE AGILE - My team works in agile. It helps us develop stuff together with our users, fail quickly and succeed faster. Whenever I tell users that in 2-3 weeks you may see this feature live, they are happy. I can't imagine how it would be to tell them that we will only fix this bug in 3 months....Agile is the best!
  9. PREPARE TO SCALE- internal doesn't mean just for one team or for a country. Plan and develop your tool keeping in mind that it will have to scale across geos, it will require translation, you'll need to find data sources and understand various privacy regulations. You'll also have to deploy it, build a communications network, equip them with training materials and so on. The sooner you prepare for it, the better!
  10. BE AN AMBASSADOR! There will never be someone more passionate about your work than yourself. You built this, you know the users, you know the ups and downs, you love every single feature. Use your networks, team calls, communities to promote your new baby!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wear Happy!

I like wearing things that remind me to be happy: my super favorite scarf, the ear rings I got from my grandma, a perfume my husband gave me....I know this may not be news, but when I found this "Happy" necklace in Hiroshima I realized that we kind of do that by chance. We should all plan and wear things that make us happy more often, every day :) So now it's on my list: favorite dress tomorrow and my happy bag on Friday! #happymaking

Friday, August 22, 2014

The three ways that good design makes us happy

A great #happymaking video that explains not only why being so happy helps me get so many things done but also made me realize that developing and making available an app for IBMers, that has some awesome design, will make them happy, will make them so much more productive. Happy to work on happy design :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

#happymaking at work

A while ago I got featured on IBM's Social Biz Blog. They made a pretty neat graphic with some of my beliefs and favorite experiences. Hope you see the #happymaking is serious business, happening at the office every single day :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Flowers of happiness

Hello my friends! Can't believe it's been months since I have last posted something, and mostly as I couldn't recover my log in credentials due to some IT issues related to me being in Japan :) However I am back now (managed to log in from London). And happier than ever! Japan it is really amazing and there is not much note to love about it. Simple things done in a flawless manner and cultural discoveries are inspiring me every day. The attention paid to details, the harmony, the beauty...I must say I will have a really hard time going back to Europe at some point in my life.

One thing people love most about Japan is also the beauty of its nature, the mountains and the beaches, the colored trees and the cherry blossoms. Which are nice but not all that Japan has to offer in terms of natural beauty. And I find this a bit unfair, especially as a person who loves flowers :) Japan is not just about cherry blossoms. There are tens of flower viewings (hanami- which btw started around plum trees blossoms and only later on changed to cherry trees).  Wisteria (called Fuji in Japanese, like the mountain :), my absolute favorite place is Ashikaga ), azalea, hydrangea, shibazakura (translates to cherry blossoms on the ground), irises, roses, lavender and many more are enchanting use month after month, season after season.

I am posting a couple of pics below, hopefully some of you will get inspired and visit Japan around the time when some of these beauties are in bloom- see calendar here.  (remember they kind of bloom from south to north).

Wisteria (Fuji)
Azalea at Nezu shrine

Plum Trees (UME)