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How User Experience takes Flight at PROS

Are you spending your days wishing for a streamlined, easy-to-use, workflow? Do you wish there was a more efficient way to accomplish your daily tasks? Well, we have the solution for you! Join the PROS User Experience and Product Management teams to learn how the new PROS Revenue Managment (RM) workflows were designed for and driven by users like you.

  • Get a glimpse into how feature ideas evolved into user interfaces with our user-focused design process.
  • See the new workflows that streamline your tasks so you can spend more time focusing on airline strategic initiatives.
  • Learn how you can get involved to ensure that RM is designed to meet your team’s needs.

About the Speakers

Eunice Yang has been a User Experience Researcher at PROS for four years. She is passionate about research-driven product design and has conducted over 50 user research studies. Her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science led to 10 years of studying human behavior.

Rachel Golden is a product manager for the Revenue Management products. She has been with PROS for four years, including a brief period as an intern, all within the RM product management team. During her time at PROS, Rachel has collaborated with airlines around the world to improve the products through new features that solve business problems across the dynamic airline industry. Much of her time has been spent working with the User Experience and Development teams to enhance the user experience of the RM products for end users. She is also the lead product manager for RM Essentials and has worked with many airlines to show the benefits of industry-leading science available in the RM Editions.

Rachel earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Minor in History from Cornell University. She is currently an MBA candidate in the Texas A&M Mays School of Business Professional MBA program.

Full Transcript

Rachel Golden: Hi, I'm Rachel Golden. I'm a product manager on the revenue management team here at PROS....

Eunice Yang: Hi, I'm Eunice Yang. I'm a senior researcher on the PROS user experience team. And today we'd like to walk you through how user experience takes flight at PROS.

So let's start out with understanding what is good design. So take this door, for example. Aesthetically it's very clean and simple, but there's more to design than just look and feel. It's also about function. So if you were in front of this door, would you try to push or pull it open? Well, pull should be the right answer based on how it looks, but it's actually not how it works. This is a classic example in which usability wasn't actually considered into design. So how do you know when something's poorly designed? Well, you have a hard time using it because it's not intuitive.

So what does it mean to be intuitive in design? Well, the way in which something is designed should actually give you some hints as to how to use it. So in this example, the shape and position of the handle tells you whether to push or pull the door. So if something doesn't work the way you thought it would, the design is most likely not intuitive. And you really shouldn't have to blame yourself for doing what's natural to you.

So intuitive design brings up a larger principle. Good design should reduce friction in your experience with a product or an application. So for example, it's okay to have one speed bump in the road because it slows you down and it's good for safety, but if speed bumps come one after another, it can cause a lot of unnecessary friction, and that can be very aggravating. And like I said, good design should not add friction.

So let's take, for example, a simple task that involves doing some analysis and taking action in an application. If you have no friction at all, you'll be able to easily find the information you need, analyze it, and quickly make adjustments. However, maybe the user interface isn't perfect and you hit a couple of points of friction. They may just be a nuisance and you can easily recover from them. But if you have too much friction, a seemingly simple task is no longer easy, and you start to get really frustrated. Now, if you start to multiply that experience across days and weeks, it leads to a lot of wasted time and really, really unhappy users. But what if you could have an application with no friction at all? Just lots of simple tasks that are actually easy to do. Well, what if the application could automate, combine, simplify, and predict what you need to do? Now you have less tasks to do in a system. What could be better than that?

Well, what if you didn't have to do any simple tasks at all in the system? It would essentially do the analysis for you. The system will even come up with insights and recommendations, and all you need to do is accept or decline those recommendations. So now you can focus on more important tasks that'll provide real value to your company. This is the mentality that we take when we're designing for our users at PROS. We think about how we can empower users so they can do their job easily, efficiently, and effectively. And in this way they can produce amazing results for the business.

Rachel Golden: So PROS has been a leader in the [inaudible 00:03:20] States for over 30 years at this point. And as we've developed our revenue management products and our solutions, we've introduced a lot of science, which makes them really powerful products. But as we introduce new features over the years, it can become a complex solution as well, which is by nature, introducing more things, just a bit more business cases and to address more business problems.

And so what we really wanted to set out to do when we were redesigning these new workflows in the system is to find a way to reduce that complexity and make them really simple and easy and effective for the analysts to use so that they can easily do what they need to do in the system, and they can easily find what they need to find in the system, making it a better experience for that analyst.

So a lot of the times what we see as the status quo is dual monitors, where they're doing some analysis on one screen and they're taking some sort of action on another screen. And this is useful because you can see more information this way, but it also shows one of the problems where it's difficult to potentially navigate between things, or you feel like you need to have things on different monitors so that you can do more things and be more effective in your job. And so what a lot of people tend to think as a result of this is that the solution is to move to an ultra wide screen monitor where you can see more information, but this is not the answer. It potentially just leads to more complexity. You can see more data, yes. But can you even take all of that data in and does it even actually help you? We have found that that's not the case. And so we want to move away from that approach and find an approach that allows you to see the data you need to see in an effective way so that you don't feel like you have to have such a wide screen to see all of that information.

And so when we set out to simplify things, we looked at other kinds of applications that are out in the marketplace, and Turbo Tax is a good example for those of us here in the United States, where it's a very easy application to use to file your taxes, because you easily can go and select all of the options that are relevant for you, and then the system tells you what you need to do. And so we wanted to take that sort of a model with the RM additions when we were building out these new workflows.

And so that led us to kind of our four main goals of redesigning these workflows. We wanted to simplify and re-imagine them into an easier to use and more user-friendly type of a workflow. We want to also design so that it shortens implementations by minimizing training. So if we can make these intuitive and easy to use, it makes it easier during an implementation, both for the pros team to help the airline learn how to use the system, and it also makes it easier for the analyst to learn on their own, and easily come to grasp how the system works and what they need to do. And by doing that, we can then build trust with the analyst so that they know that the system is going to help them and make it easier for them to do their jobs.

And so, as I said, there's a lot of really great functionality in the RM additions today. Over the last 20 so years, we've built a lot of functionality in here to address a lot of business cases for a variety of different airline types. And so we really wanted to take all of that functionality and boil it down into a really simple navigation that's really easy to use and is a streamlined workflow. If we can do that, it makes it again simple for the analyst to use and easy for them to know what they need to do. They can easily look at alerts to prioritize, then they can go do some analysis and then they can go take direct action directly from the workflow in a very easy and progressive manner so that they know exactly what they've analyzed, and from there they can easily go and action off of that.

The next thing we really wanted to work on was a personalized workflow. And this is something that we're targeting for the future, but it's something that we have been thinking about as we've redesigned all of these workflows. We've seen in some cases, airlines have analysts that have responsibilities in multiple different role types. So for example, you may have an airline that has an analyst with the forecast and availability responsibilities. And so the idea is to move towards a workflow that allows an analyst to do both of those tasks in their own personalized workflow, that they've defined for themselves, based on how they do their job.

I think the other major thing that we wanted to do was make sure that we were really streamlining these tasks. There's a lot of analysis that goes on in the system. And then the analyst, once they've done their analysis, immediately needs to take action. And previously these existed on separate screens, but we wanted to combine these into a single screen so that they could easily do that analysis and take direct action, once they found something that they need to adjust in their forecast or their flights, for example. And so again, another thing that we can also do to make this easier for them, as they apply filters and do analysis, that information will be passed into these dialogues. So it's very easy for them to create influences directly from the screen as they're doing their analysis.

Eunice Yang: So how did we achieve these new workflows? Well, our design process is centered around the user. We start with basic research to understand user's goals and tasks. That involves conducting site visits to sit with users and actually observe how they're using the system. We also get to see firsthand what their pain points are.

We then prototype a solution based on what we've observed. The prototype should provide information and functionality that users need while reducing their pain points. But we also think about how we can make it more efficient for the users by automating steps, reducing clicks, simplifying navigation, and filling in information for them.
Next step is to gather user feedback on those prototypes to see if we're going in the right direction. We'll refine the prototypes based on feedback and conduct usability testing until we, and the users, are actually happy with the design. And those designs are then developed and finally released to our users. But the feedback processes doesn't stop there. We actually track how our system is being used through usage analytics and user interviews in order to get an idea of how to enhance the application in the future. Now there's one common theme which makes this whole process successful. It's you, the user. So understanding your thought process and goals, your feedback and pain points, your way of working. All of that is what makes the ARM application better and your experience better.

Now normally software is designed by a committee of people that all have their own agenda and their own opinions of how the user interface should look and function. But clearly what's missing here is the user. That's why user experience is so important in PROS. It's to make sure that we put the user at the center of the process, where they can influence what's being built for them, and for the experience. Now, when we designed the new workflows for RM, we went through a total of seven rounds of feedback, with 49 end users from 15 airlines, and that included five site visits. We went through several design iterations of the workflows based on user's feedback and suggestions. We knew we reached the final design when the users we spoke to said that the new workflows were intuitive, efficient, time-saving, and insightful.

Rachel Golden: So at this point, hopefully you're thinking, "Wow, this is all really great and exciting, and I'm glad PROS is moving in this direction and doing all of this research and taking the initiative to make the workflows easier for analysts to use." And hopefully you're also thinking, "I'd like to get involved with this." So we want to talk real quick about a couple of ways that you can get involved in continuing to enhance these products as we move forward with the new workflows.
So we have a variety of different feedback forums. We have our user voice forum where you can submit feature requests, suggestions for enhancements in the products. We have user community forums that are also open for suggestions if you'd like to post there. And we also have the email, where you can send enhancements or suggestions or any sort of feedback you have directly to the user experience team. And then in the future, we're also looking to add feedback directly from the application. So if you're using the system and you think there's a way we could enhance it, you would be able to provide that directly from the application itself.

Another way we also get feedback is from our annual user satisfaction surveys. This is the results from the 2019 survey. So of the 91 suggestions, we've already addressed approximately 23%. 20% of those under implementation are currently being developed right now. Another 16% are planned, and another 25% are under consideration. So you can see, of the 91 suggestions that we got, the large majority of those are already addressed, or currently being addressed, where we're looking for ways to incorporate those into the workflows.

And a couple of examples of things that we have included in the new workflows are performance improvements, lots of user friendly improvements like filtering and sorting and tables, the easier navigation that we've talked about. We've also introduced a new flexible alerting framework in the forecast workflow. And we're also trying to be more prescriptive in these workflows, and so an example of that would be guidance on some conflicting HSE rules, so that it's easier for the analyst to add things and know if there's a conflict, rather than having to ... They know the conflict upfront, rather than getting to the point where they save, and that's where they learn there's a conflict.

And so hopefully from this presentation you've gathered that our goal is your success. We really want to strive with these new workflows, and as we move forward with continued enhancements in the products to make sure that the users are at the center of our thought process, because we want to help you succeed in your day to day goals.

And so if you have questions on what the workflows are, or how they work, or how they compare to the current system, please check out the next talk, which is Clear Tasks, Full Workflow, Can't Lose.

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