Hook&Loop Experiences M3
Designing and building better user experiences is at the heart of what Hook&Loop does and improving M3 is one of the team’s current projects. M3 is a valuable, industry-specific tool that covers the unique tasks of manufacturers and as Infor’s most powerful ERP cloud software, it is critical that it meets the needs of its users while providing streamlined, easy-to-use workflows. During the first week in December, Hook&Loop accepted an invitation to send three team members, Becca Kroll, Thea Katz and Rick Swette (pictured above) to the M3 TechEd conference in Sweden. As a team obsessed with creating the best possible user experience, we were excited to send members of the team there to interact with M3 customers and product experts to gather insights for improving the software. The team attended the conference with three goals: learn; connect with users; and promote the vision of Hook&Loop.
Since the focus of the project is improving M3, the first step of the mission was to learn. The team wanted to learn as much as they could from the lens of customers who use M3 regularly to complete their work. They wanted to know about all aspects of M3 users experiences such as their everyday tasks, challenges and successes. The team began by attending several 2-hour learning sessions. The first of the sessions was a general overview of M3, followed by more in-depth sessions into the more technical side of the software. Listening in on sessions along with the customers allowed for the team to gain an understanding about the expectations that legacy M3 users have, and provided a refresher on the array of customization options within the software. That information is used as a starting point to guide the process of developing a better user interface.
An essential part of the conference was to have in-person interaction with M3 customers. It allowed the team to use moments such as breaks, lunches, and even happy hours to jump right in and discuss the M3 user experience. Becca even took things a step further by sketching designs, based on the requests of customers, then adjusting based on their feedback. This face-to-face communication is something that we don’t always get to have and taking the opportunity to discuss and create designs, then accept direct feedback was a useful exercise.
The conference was also an opportune time to promote the vision of Hook&Loop. Attending sessions served as soft introductions for the team, thanks to instructors championing our work and displaying our designs. The team later facilitated a Hook&Loop session — so popular a session that it was standing room only — that invited M3 customers to “Help us define the next generation of M3’s user interface.” The team used the session to stress the importance of feedback and showed designs that exhibit that we listen to that feedback and actively continue working to make the software better. Thea and Becca began the session by summarizing how we work through the Infor Design System, followed by a preview of designs that Becca has been working on. During the session, we displayed some of our uplift work to show updates to designs based on customer feedback and circulated a survey geared at gathering more information from users. The survey asks specific questions about how they interact with the software such as what their main tasks are, pain points, things they like, and things that they would like to see improved.
Understanding how customers work is key to creating a better user experience, so encouraging dialogue with customers — and customers from different companies who use the software for a variety of tasks — is invaluable. Customers were very open and excited about sharing their experiences and some even stayed for two hours after the session to continue the discussion. Furthermore, they were interested in being contacted in the future to extend the conversations. This ongoing communication is vital to helping us to continuously improve M3.
As well as learning, connecting with customers, and promoting Hook&Loop, the trip was also made a success by bringing together the three Hook&Loop team members. Each night the team broke bread, explored the city, and recapped their takeaways from the day. That effort culminated in some great insights that they brought back to share with the team.
With our three goals met, we are set up to further Hook&Loop’s mission to deliver experiences that transform the way people work. Opportunities like M3 TechEd demonstrate the impact of face-to-face interaction with users and decision-makers, and prove that time and effort are worthwhile if we want to understand what’s important to users and meaningful to Infor’s customers.