User-centered Research and Design

Business Challenge

Biamp, an internationally renowned manufacturer of enterprise level audio/video signal processing equipment, approached Phase II in 2015 to improve its understanding of its users.

Biamp's reputation with its customers is top-notch: they have market-leading products known for their reliability and functionality and their brand is beloved. How much more did they need to know about their users that they didn't already know? What would this new information offer them that would lead to improving the company's products even further?

These were the first of many questions Phase II asked as we began the effort to bring a user-centered approach to Biamp's product management processes.

Results

Photo of creation session work: post-it notes on easel and tables

Creation Session brainstorming results.

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Presumptive Design artifact in process.

Photo of man reaching into a rack of electronic equipment, holding a clipboard
 
Board game showing multiple tiles of features. Different sized tiles are organized in columns.

Feature/function trade-off board layout.

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Feature/function trade-off results chart.

Diagram of four circles, arranged horizontally with arrows pointing from rightmost to the left.

Reverse Roadmapping process diagram.

Biamp completed numerous activities with Phase II's help, including:

  • Presumptive Design Creation and Engagement Sessions - revealing key assumptions by Biamp's leadership about their target users' needs. Testing these assumptions led Biamp to a much more nuanced understanding of its customers' business operations, along with the needs of those customers' employees.
  • Persona development. Biamp explored a subset of the total number of Personas in their ecosystem, pursuing the Personas wih the highest immediate business value. This effort resulted in Persona definitions, back-stories, relationships and behaviors both within their own organizations and in relation to Biamp and its products. Ultimately, Biamp is using these to improve its product definition and design processes.
  • Feature/Function trade-off exercises. These "board-game" engagements with users helped Biamp product management hone in on what really matters to the technical users of the company's products. This information was an additional lens through which the product management team could view its users.
  • Ideal roadmapping. Guiding a company to future growth requires vision and insight into a desired outcome. In these "future state" workshops, Phase II helped Biamp leadership and staff identify desired outcomes for the company, along with actionable steps to achieve them.

Bottom line: After working with users in these new ways, Biamp has deepened its understanding of their needs, has identified potential product offerings and has clarified opportunities for top-line growth. 

Working With Phase II

Photo of posters on wall with images, transcripts and post-it notes

Persona analysis in progress.

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Technician assembling a rack.

Biamp's engagement with Phase II began with a series of discussions about the company's underlying needs. After preliminary meetings with its leadership, Phase II proposed a menu of services to capture, analyze and develop insights into Biamp's users.

Discover

Almost 80% of the effort Phase II expended on Biamp's behalf was in the "discover" phase. Specifically, we began with interviews of key stakeholders within the company, across a variety of disciplines, from leadership to product management and engineering through customer support. The purpose of these was to provide Phase II with a deeper understanding of Biamp's current focus toward its users.

In its Presumptive Design process, Phase II led multiple teams of Biamp thought leaders through a set of creative exercises, ultimately producing three artifacts embodying their assumptions about the target users. Those artifacts were part of the Persona interview process along with the feature/function trade-off game.

Biamp engineers and product managers accompanied Phase II on the Persona interviews to hear, first hand, users' reactions to the artifacts, observe their use of Biamp and other systems, and gain insights into customer operations.

Define

Using hours of audio recordings, photographs and copious notes, Phase II led Biamp through a Persona analysis process, teasing out the key elements that distinguished one Persona from another. 

Simultaneously and in parallel, Phase II facilitated a set of workshops for Biamp thought leaders - across multiple disciplines and functions - to identify potential "moon shots." More important, however, was to identify actionable steps the company could take to achieve those desired outcomes.

Collaboration | Contributions

Pithy drop-quote 

Shell Hafner, Director Product Management, Biamp

Phase II approaches these engagements as a partner, taking the lead when specific expertise is required, letting its client lead when domain-specific knowledge is required. With Biamp, we collaborated with the Director of Product Management to coordinate each of these research activities within the context of his overall product definition efforts.

We facilitated all of these processes, across multiple teams, not only at the leadership level, but with engineering, product management and customer-support.