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Design Thinking: A Human-Centered Approach for Product Engineering

Ankita Hariyani

The approach of Design Thinking remains as potent as ever, more so, with the rise of disruptive innovations, emerging technologies and changing customers’ needs. The reason Design Thinking consistently proves itself as the best practice to solve difficult problems is that it always—no matter the scale of the problem—keeps humans at the center.

Enterprises today are getting on the bandwagon of delivering products and services which go explicitly through Design Thinking processes. Particularly, in the Software Industry where product development lifecycles are shrinking at a rapid pace.

The increasing importance of customer experience and disruptive innovations have forced organizations to re-think their business processes to create customer-centric products and services.

“Organizations using “Design Thinking” slashed the time required for initial design and alignment by 75%.”
IBM

In the previous article, we already understood the basics of Design Thinking and its key five stages i.e. Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test to employ within the enterprise.

In this article, we will delve into the practical application of those five stages along the software development lifecycle for product engineering.

This creative and experimental approach will help you to better understand how to develop a product that is not just technologically feasible but also economically viable from a human point of view.

Cygnet’s Design Thinking Approach – A Real-life Case Study

Cygnet developed an anonymous yet transparent Blockchain-based B2B trading platform. This ecosystem is distinctive, as it allows verified yet anonymous trading of various products across the globe between various players (distributors, traders, and resellers) with bank and insurance to hedge the risks.

Cygnet understands the advantage of using Design Thinking in product engineering. Thus, with a thoughtful aim, the project management team applied key five process of Design Thinking to evaluate and execute this crucial project.

Instead of being focused only on the strengths and weaknesses of the project, we focused on “What value we can add to our clients”. Cygnet Infotech firmly believes in “IT Is All About You”.

  1. Empathizing

    Cygnet team, while understanding client requirements, found major concerns in the way trading took place between traders, manufacturers and distributors. The team stayed in touch with the client throughout the SDLC through Skype conversations, and had daily calls twice a day for gathering requirement to address challenges and problems prevailing in the market.

    Following this, the internal team interpreted the client’s requirements with the extended team putting themselves in the shoes of the traders transacting on a daily basis on the platform. Our team thoroughly understood the pain, problems, and realities involved in the trading process within the market.

  2. Define

    We had enough understanding of what the real problems were. In addition to the information received in the Empathize phase, it contained points that were highlighted by our client’s end customers that had never been pointed out before and had never been considered earlier.

    During the brainstorming phase, the entire team was involved right from the frontend and backend developers, designers, business analysts, system architecture specialist to the project manager. The sessions had consecutive follow up meetings, discussing end users, hypothesizing solutions where everyone kept an open mind to every possible innovation.

    In a short span of time we had a clear view of what type of solution was feasible along with fulfilling the needs and solving key challenges of the end customers.

  3. Ideate

    During the ideation phase, our team engaged in mapping a user story to form real concepts out of proposed solutions. As we follow 100% agile approach, our team started creating a rough sketch, produced thought-provoking wireframes using Balsamiq tool and prepared a document having a comprehensive set of actions, the process flow, and the set of activities carried out by each user; assuming they must perform while trading.

    The activities were outlined within a User Story Map, to maintain the original evidence of the personas and the flow we want to give to the product. Following this, we did back and forth interaction with the client to get the approval on each module. In doing so, we could quickly test our idea and understand if it met the core needs.

    Design Thinking Approach Blog

  4. Prototype

    During the prototype phase, by following Design Thinking standards, we developed a scaled down version of a real system i.e. online B2B marketplace to map the journey of the actual product development.

    After having several sessions of consultation and meetings with the team of developers to check our assumptions and estimations, we understood the major effort will be on the development team for integrating third-party APIs.

    However, the team with their excellent effort could manage to integrate the modular APIs to reflect the product as much as possible and maintain the necessary functionality. We decided to purchase the readymade dashboard template and customize the layout as per the requirement to complete the prototype within the timeframe.

    Along with, we used Trello to organize and prioritize the tasks and keep the client updated with the work progress on the timely basis ,while employing the Jira tool to assign tasks to all the developers. At the end of 5-6 weeks of hard work, we had software that we could try and test with actual users.

  5. Testing Phase

    We created a clickable prototype where users were able to walk through the flow of the system and perform actions. While tracking their responses, we received a constant loop of feedback and iterations whenever needed.

    At the end of each accomplished task, we took the feedback from the client and checked with them how effectively it met their needs, understand their perception, and check if it accomplished their goals.

The Design Thinking approach helped us to work on well-thought different features. This did not just lead to saving our time, but also helped us innovative results with Speed that would have been more time consuming otherwise. Most importantly, we were able to deliver the product and value that users needed, and this was valued by the client, making this their internal flagship project for future challenges ahead.

As a Technology First company, Cygnet focuses on rapid productization with 100% agility combined with the perfect balance of the design thinking approach. Get in touch with experts at Cygnet today on +1-609-245-0971 or inquiry@cygnetinfotech.com.

Ankita Hariyani

Ankita Hariyani is a content writer at Cygnet Infotech. She has the technical precision, business experience and creativity to craft technically detailed write-ups with ease. She embraces her writing skills to condense complicated information into easily digestible articles for prospective clients, business readers, executives, and for those with an appetite for knowledge. When she is not busy writing, she loves to spend her free time singing, reading and writing poetry.

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