Agile UX Design is Key to Delivering Usable Commodity Solutions

One key area that Adaptive focuses on is the creation of functional specifications, technical architectures, roadmaps, and UX designs in an agile manner. We work closely with our clients to design solutions that are aligned with their business goals and recently, we had the opportunity to work with a very large food and commodities business, and its systems integration firm, to help design the prospective screens for a potential new development. Critically, the area of focus was position management and a hedging and risk management system, and we were brought in due to our expertise in agile UX design in particular.

The solution was envisaged as delivering the real-time calculation of metrics and exposures, and to suggest hedging strategies; essentially something of a risk management system. The project started with a single physical commodity trading desk, but it could eventually be rolled out to all commodities. The key to success was partly to get the users both engaged in the design and supportive of the design for the possible new system. The experienced Adaptive team went to business working with users to produce designs for screens like real-time position views, charts, an application launcher, cash trade views, configurable workspace management, and PnL. The views included daily views, historic views, animated views with drill-down, split screens and much more.

The key to agile UX design is to conduct sprints working with the users. Each sprint delivering something closer to the ideal view for the traders concerned and this is performed using specialist and experienced UX designers with expertise in commodity trading. The key is to iterate the designs very rapidly. Another key is to have access to sample data.

Completed in 6-weeks, the project resulted in a design that the users felt some ownership of and confidence in. This is important because users are often reluctant to give up their valuable time to instruct IT people especially when in the past, it has resulted in suboptimal results. The users also benefit from gaining a rapid view of what may be possible to deliver and over the design period, it became clearer to the team, including the users, just what they were looking for as it helped to firm up concepts and ideas while providing scope for innovation. Now the customer must make the decision as to whether to build or possibly buy a solution.

However, in the short timeframe our UX design team helped the users design what they needed and the potential what they could have. As they look at commercial solutions, they will have to compare and contrast the designs with the generic reality of what a commercial solution might offer. While vendors can provide some level of customisation it is highly unlikely they can or will have the means to provide custom screens for a specific customer based on what the staff actually think they want and need. In the end, the project delivered a specification showing the ideal scenario for the company and its users.

Adaptive sees agile UX design as being critical to user buy in and acceptance of a solution. The key is in providing expert UX designers to the project with a relevant background to help transform the users ideas into something dynamic, innovative and usable.

Author:

Matt Barret

CEO and Founder, Adaptive Financial Consulting Ltd

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