User Experience (UX) service

Document management user requirements

We determined current document management practices from the perspective of a range of University staff and helped identify their end-users and those users’ requirements for Document Management, independent of platforms.

The client

Document Management Programme team, SharePoint Service:

  • Alex Carter - Head of Service Management
  • Catherine Hetherington and Dawn Dodds (job share) - Project Sponsor and Collaboration Services Team Manager
  • Clare Bradford - Business Lead, SharePoint Solutions Manager
  • Ruth Churchman - SharePoint Specialist

The Document Management Programme is part of Digital Transformation and will provide solutions for collaborating and managing documents which meet the needs of individuals, groups and units across the University.

The challenge

The team undertaking the project to define document management were faced with finding out staff requirements in a short space of time. These requirements would be used to define the packages of template solutions, guidance and training that the Service would offer.

What we did

Our short timescale required us to prioritise one or two areas of work to conduct our research on. In order to identify priority areas, we did some knowledge mapping and validated this with a wider group of stakeholders.

What this looked like in practice was writing out what we all knew – or thought we might know - about:

  • document management related tasks
  • areas of work within the University which heavily incorporate document management related tasks (use case scenarios)

Preliminary analysis

Before engaging the User Experience service, the service team had done 17 brief (10-min) interviews with ad-hoc volunteers, simply aiming to find out what documents people create and when in their workflow.

They had also extracted support calls for an 18 month period relating to SharePoint, OneDrive or document management. They then categorised these to see what the majority of the requests related to.

We analysed this pool of information to identify document management related work activities. We cross-referenced that information with our knowledge map.

Stakeholder workshop

We held a workshop to validate our thinking with a wider group of internal stakeholders and pick a priority group to conduct research with.  All of the attendees voted to focus the face-to-face research on collaboration which spanned multiple groups/departments.

Face-to-face research

We intended to pass on research skills as part of this project so that the people on the team would be more equipped to proceed without partnering with the UX Service, should they choose to follow a human-centred process in the future. As such, before conducting interviews, we ran a coaching session on interview techniques.

Research analysis

We distilled the interview information to draw out what people said they do when they work collaboratively.

Outcomes and benefits

The service team now has deep contextual knowledge of a portion of their audience which can be used to design solutions. They have a greater understanding of why someone in a business requirements session might have asked for something and what that means in practice.

They can use the outcomes of this round of research to identify the guidance and support that people need, and help inform decisions about which solutions templates to develop. The service is in a more informed position on what would be useful to people.

The service team now has first-hand experience of the value of user research, its impact on their project goals, and an appreciation of how further human-centred work in the design phase will continuously validate designs to ensure that they are easy to use, as well as useful.

UX techniques used

User interviews


Client quote

Collaborating directly with members of the UX Service gave me a fresh perspective on what users of our services want. I’ve developed new skills through the coaching I received on the project which will help me approach user requirement gathering differently in future.

Ruth Churchman