At a meeting today one of the most important features of our intranet software turned out to be the ability to book a room, with associated services. Booking via an intranet booking system is extremely important as it’s a very repetitive task.
For a moment I felt almost negative in my response; we had been discussing the API, bespoke applications, process and quality management – powerful solutions that can make a big difference to any organisation.
But it was a simple, elegant room booking intranet solution that really got everyone’s attention.
However after listening to the discussion I realised there are some key lessons here:
1. The importance of specific intranet functionality is not related to it’s complexity – it matters how annoying or difficult performing that function is now.
Particularly a repetitive task like booking the right room and facilities – it is important to the meeting results, it is required frequently, and by many users.
Of course it is important.
2. When you see a truly elegant solution to a problem, you react to it.
For our new client today they could book meeting rooms before, but it was a painful and unreliable process. When you see something that is currently painful implemented ‘the way it should be’ you feel a natural sense of empathy. We all recognise both good and bad design.
3. Sometimes explaining more complex solutions, like the impact of quality management – is a challenge and the message might not really sink in the first time.
As someone who attends so many meetings where the company is seeing Claromentis for the first time, I do understand that for all but the relevant subject matter experts that simple ideas will translate immediately, yet more complex ideas take more effort and discussion.
So today I grasped another small lesson: be respectful of the impact of good design on any problem, even if for ourselves as intranet providers the problem seems so “simple”.
Our own challenge now is to present the more complex ideas and web applications in a way that is as immediately understandable as the requirement to book a meeting room. The penny has got to drop for UK companies before it really is too late – bespoke web applications in a consistent and well designed framework carry a huge benefit and really will make a difference.
Hopefully when we present that in the next meeting we won’t be sitting in the corridor because the room is booked by someone else!