Stakeholder Engagement in Human Centered Design

Stakeholder engagement is vital in human-centered design - attaining input from all relevant parties allows for an actionable strategy.

Stakeholder engagement is vital to the success of any project. Chemistry Team has worked with clients from a wide array of industries. As a result, we’ve learnt that the attained input helps to formulate clear goals and an actionable strategy. Depending on the project, many relevant parties can be considered stakeholders. This includes management, employees, customers, suppliers, business owners, and policy makers amongst others. One of the key principles of human centered design is empathy. In order to truly appreciate the experience of users, we have to gather insights on both the users themselves and everyone that they come into contact with. Consequently, the synthesised data would encompass a bigger, more holistic picture.

A good example of stakeholder engagement. Speaking to medical staff and patients in developing nations to inform the creation of Vscan Access, a portable ultrasound device.
Speaking to medical staff and patients in developing countries to inform the creation of Vscan Access, a portable ultrasound device.

Empathy & Stakeholder Engagement

In order to improve maternal healthcare in developing countries, Chemistry Team worked in-tandem with GE Healthcare to develop Vscan Access. We joined the project to help develop a simple but powerful user experience for the device. As a result of our foundation in human-centered design, we began the project with extensive ethnographic research. From the strategic phase, we realised that developing the user experience of this device would require the input of several stakeholders. The simple fact that the product is for mothers but used by doctors made a strong enough case for stakeholder engagement. However, they weren’t the only stakeholders.

Due to the scarcity of proper healthcare institutes in low-resource environments, patient care usually came from midwives. These health workers possessed a wealth of insight regarding the healthcare experience on the ground. In addition, as a lot of these providers came from these areas as well, the user experience would have to accommodate to their level of technological proficiency. Another key stakeholder was the respective government healthcare bodies. These stakeholders were vital in ensuring the proper distribution of the device.

Vscan access being used to provide healthcare to mothers in low resource environments

The impact of the Vscan Access

Through the insights gathered from stakeholder engagement, we were able to create a seamless user experience for all parties. Some of the key considerations were the needs of mothers, the portability required for convenient travelling, and the usability for all proficiency levels. With virtually no learning curve at all, the light and portable Vscan Access is now utilised in Asia, Europe, and places as far-off as the hills of Papua New Guinea and remote parts of Africa.

Gathering Insights from Stakeholders

As with the Vscan Access, it is imperative that we gather insights from all relevant stakeholders. This is because the synthesised data need to be holistic enough to accommodate all facets of the user’s experience. In order to ensure appropriate gathering of insights, certain key factors need to be considered.

Identifying Stakeholders

It almost always isn’t that simple. When conducting user research for the Vscan Access, if we had generalised ‘healthcare providers’ as merely doctors and nurses, we would have missed a large demography. Often, what we deem our ‘core user group’ can be diversified or broken down into more specific subgroups. These subgroups usually interact with the service or product differently from one another. As a result, these nuances could potentially have a colossal impact on the final design.

Proper Utilisation of Stakeholder Engagement Insights

The reason we identify stakeholders early in the strategic process is so that we can utilise the insights as an integral part of the strategy. In line with the design thinking process, we stress that every prototype or decision regarding the design of the service or product is informed by research. In addition, keeping all stakeholders at the centre of the innovation process ensures a product that serves its purpose. As with the Vscan Access, the consideration of each stakeholder resulted in a product that covered all necessary bases.

Chemistry team, stakeholder engagment for Changi Airport's internet kiosks informed the final design. Kiosks are designed to ensure wheelchair accessibility and baggage security via "the Boomerang" design.
Stakeholder engagement for Changi Airport’s internet kiosks informed the final design. Kiosks are designed to ensure wheelchair accessibility and baggage security via “the Boomerang” design. Read more here.

In sum, it’s in the name. Human-centered design is centered around the human. However, it would be unwise to believe that your demography exists on its own. In reality, other groups of people will inevitably interact with your user and the potential product or service. In order to ensure a seamless user experience, insights from these stakeholders are just as important.

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