How we created our new workpapers
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” Steve Jobs
When we started down the road of redesigning our work papers, we didn’t just want to hear from accountants about what they wanted in workpapers, we wanted to see and experience how they actually worked, the challenges they faced and what information they needed and when they needed it, because when people describe verbally what they do, it is often very different from what they actually do as they tend to summarise the process or miss out small but crucial steps simply because the task is so second nature to them that they do it almost unconsciously.
What is Contextual Design?
Contextual Design is a customer-centered design process which uses extensive field data as the foundation for understanding users’ needs, tasks, intents, and processes in order to design products and systems that meet both users’ and business’ needs.
Observing Accountants in their natural habitat
What Contextual Design meant in the context of our Workpaper project was a very interesting exercise as we sat at the shoulder of Accountants and their staff and observed them performing tasks in their normal workflow - what they did, why they did it, what information they needed and when.
Having broken down tasks into their component parts, the results were then collated and added to an 'Affinity Wall'.
Creating the Affinity Wall
Discussing the Accountants actions, behaviours and intent
Noting every step!
Establishing the pain points!
Fitting the tasks together
We covered every surface!
What We Learned
- Even in this online world, Accountants still keep a lot of information in their heads!
- Partners and senior practitioners struggle to find time to coach and train staff and share all that knowledge
- Accountants like the freedom and flexibility to design their own workflow processes, so tools developed for accountants must be flexible and adaptable as no two people work the same way
- Accountants want the ability to integrate with multiple accounting software platforms consistently – a consistent process is an efficient process
- Paper resources kept to hand can still have their place, especially if they are quicker than searching online
- Accountants want to reduce time wasted with pick up and put down of tasks – they need to know where the task is up to as soon as they return to it, or someone else picks it up
- Managing risk is key for partners – there is a fine line between balancing the need for accuracy while getting the job done efficiently
- Accountants prefer using Excel and the ability to customize and integrate their own workpapers.
See how we built these findings into the new CCH Workpapers on the What’s New page.