Assembling the Team and Getting Buy-in
The author defines some of the roles involved in a testing program, the problem being that each person involved wants to touch and tweak it, and your plans may die the death of a thousand cuts.
- User Experience Is a relatively new interdisciplinary field that examines how users interact wit ha particular system. They tend to be generalists, focused on the functional and architectural aspects of design, generally with an eye toward usability.
- Product Manager The product manager is responsible for developing and marketing a particular product (or service), and their primary concerns are generating revenue and controlling costs.
- Webmaster This role is tasked with the care and maintenance of the Web site: the content, the site organization. etc. They often have authority over the files on the server and determine what gets loaded.
- System Administrator Another technical role, the system operator is tasked with maintaining the hardware and software of the hosting platform. Their main forucs is stability and security.
- Graphic Designer Responsible for the "look and feel" of the site, and their interests are primarily the aesthetic impact of the site.
- Content Editor Responsible for the text content of the site.
- Marketing Manager Oversees the marketing of a product or service
- Web Developer Does the programming tasks for the Web site
- Quality Assurance Is in charge of testing any new code to ensure it plays nicely with the systems
Each of these individuals "own" a part or an aspect of the Web site, and they can be territorial. Some common hurdles:
- Branding: Anything that is done in view of the public has a potential impact on brand, and marketing will be very circumspect
- IT Gatekeepers: IT workers tend to be gatekeepers who are resistant to change. Expect a great deal of flack about the impact your proposal has on the stability and security of their systems
- Legal - The legal department may insist on reviewing anything that goes online, and once given this authority, will be very sluggish about it, or may try to dominate the decision-making
- Executive Whim - Because the Web site has high visibility, it is an attractive tool for executives who wish to have an impact, and their dabbling (often backed by their authority rather than sound logic) can be devastating
- Finance - Finance is charged with providing the funding for business operations, and will often use this authority to decide what gets funded when resources are scarce.
- Small Scale - The less dramatic your proposal, the less scrutiny it will get, and the more likely it will get rubber-stamp approval with little interference. If you want to do something big, do it as a series of small steps.
- Below the Radar - If possible, find a way to do a test as part of your normal activities. Do it as part of your regular operations, or in the context of another project. Do not make it an "event" in and of itself.
- Off-Site - In some instances, it may be possible to tune and test on a sandbox system that your IT people do not support. When you define a solution, you can bring it to them for implementation.
- Outsource - If your test requires human resources, you may have to struggle to get them assigned to the task (because of other "more important" work they are doing). If you outsource, you can get the skills you need, when you need them, and they tend to follow your instructions better, without feeling the need to meddle.
- Dollarize - Translate your intentions into currency, as that's the language that business speaks. Be conservative in your estimates, as they will be picked apart, and it's better in the long run if you under promise.
- Form Alliances - Get input from the sources that stand to gain the most if your test is successful, such that they can ally with you against those who will may oppose it.