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Dyslexia Week 2021 – Keri Harrowven shares her story

As part of National Dyslexia Week the British Dyslexia Association has asked the dyslexic community to share their stories, to raise awareness and to help others with dyslexia feel understood.

Keri Harrowven, Digital Workplace Consultant at Invuse, – the new name for Invotra Consulting – shared her experience of dyslexia with us. Keri is keen to support the British Dyslexia Association’s belief that everyone with dyslexia has the power to create positive change, and she champions the work of Made By Dyslexia, that dyslexia is a superpower, with game changing strengths in creative, problem-solving and communication skills.

When did you realise that you were having challenges and that you were dyslexic?

At school I struggled with English, with reading, writing etc. When this was recognised by my teachers I was put in a ”special” class (an extra class on top of usual lessons) where they drummed into us the rules of grammar!

At no point did anyone use the word dyslexia. At parents evenings teachers would give my parents the feedback that I just couldn’t be bothered, and wasn’t trying or that I was clever, but lazy.

Thankfully I had parents who believed in me, knew I wasn’t lazy and didn’t let the comments from teachers dictate my confidence or my future opportunities.

It still breaks my heart that dyslexia isn’t picked up earlier in lots of cases.

How has dyslexia impacted you?

Dyslexia has given me the magical combination of being creative, detail focused and analytical. I feel confident this has been of great benefit throughout my career.

Now, working as a Digital Workplace Consultant at Invuse, I believe my dyslexic thinking skills enable me to uncover and analyse the detail of customers needs. Working with clients like Houses of Parliament, NHS Trusts and when onboarding all of our new clients, I feel dyslexia allows me to creatively deliver a great digital user experience.

What support or help have you received for your dyslexia?

I have had no support for my dyslexia! I had to teach myself to recognise the shape of words. I have to see a word written down, before I can begin to know how to spell it and write it myself.

Do you have an achievement or story, linked to your dyslexia, you would like to share?

I left school with only CSEs and did a year at sixth form to get my one O-level in Maths.

However, when I started work, I immediately could see that I was not actually ‘stupid’, as my teachers had so often made me feel. I was, infact really quite clever when it came to doing the things you need to succeed in the real world of work.
It was when I started working with computers, with a spell check that I really came into my own.

While working for the National Trust I created spreadsheets for the properties to record their daily income. This was previously done manually, on big sheets of paper. I then worked with a developer to build their first database system, to record the income, and this began my passion for delivering a great user experience. I’ve been working in digital development ever since.

I went on to build the first 3 intranets for the National Trust, moving into internal communications and I am now a Digital Workplace Consultant. My passion and knowledge of all things usability and accessibility continually grows. My work at Invuse ensures usability and accessibility are integral to all platforms, to deliver a great experience to all users.

Do you have any advice for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia, or who, like you, recognises they are dyslexic?

This is your superpower, and you can do anything you want with it. Check out Made By Dyslexia for inspiration for everything you can achieve.

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How to prepare, and launch, your new website – The ultimate guide for website managers and content owners


We’ve all been there. At first, things were great, better than great even. Together you were a dynamic duo that others envied. But, now things have changed. While you want to evolve and progress, the other has stymied and stubbornly stays the same. Sure, they make a bit of effort but really you know things have come to an end, and you’re just delaying the inevitable. The longer you leave it the worse it gets, and the more complicated it will be to start afresh.

Websites. Anyone who has managed a website will most likely have been in this situation at one point or another. Your current website has run its course and whether it’s because you simply can’t build or adapt your existing site anymore, the code is no longer supported or the costs for updating and maintenance have spiralled – or a combination of all – we all know when it is time to start preparing for change.

Just knowing it is time to change doesn’t make it any easier to start though. If you’ve already got the proverbial t-shirt, you probably also have the scars to match. If this is your first time the prospect might be completely overwhelming.

For the purpose of this article, we’re assuming you already have buy-in from your leadership team/stakeholders to start looking around. So, ignoring the various hoops of procurement for now, let’s break this down into the steps you need to take to prepare.

Step 1: Discover what works, and what doesn't work, on your website now

Before deciding what changes should be made, you need to work out what’s working and not working for you now. Take a look at your existing site. What’s good, what’s bad and, most importantly, where are the gaps that you will need to review to meet the needs of your end users? For this step, you should cast the net wide.

Engage stakeholders

Start by speaking to your stakeholders to understand their vision and requirements for your new website. What problems could it solve for their team? How could it make their service more efficient?

Interview end users

Next come your end users. What do they think of your current site? Why are they visiting? Did they manage to complete their task/find out what they need? If you can form a focus group to explore some of the common themes in more detail.

Review your analytics

Take a deep dive into your stats and analytics – common search terms, length of time on the website, bounce rate – really take a close look so you understand how your site is performing.

Identify the ROT

Carry out a Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial (ROT) analysis on your content, so you know what you’re dealing with. What you find here will help inform your project delivery timeline.

Learn from the successes and failures of your peers

Speak to people outside of your organisation. Depending on your industry sector people may be really happy to share their experiences with you. I’ve worked across the charity and public sector and normally a call or an email to another organisation will prove really useful, and other teams are more than happy to share.

Of course some desktop research doesn’t go amiss and if you can organise some soft market testing or demos with suppliers even better.

Step 2: Analyse the priorities for your new website

Analyse the priorities for your new website 1. Work out your requirements - remember to look at technical, legal and service 2. Decide on your priorities 3. Plan a roadmap to continuously evolve 4. Find out if any requirements would be better delivered by a different application 5. Include development and ongoing support in your requirements 6. Benchmark and set some KPIs for your new site. 7. Create user personas to guide the design of your new site and content

So you’ve researched your socks off and spoken to everyone? It’s time to analyse.

Tease out the requirements for your new website from your research, don’t forget to look at technical, legal and service requirements you need to comply with, such as WCAG 2.1 Accessibility Guidelines.

You will also need to prioritise these requirements, what must your website have vs what would it be great if it could have? An approach I would always recommend using here is to create a 3, 6 and 12 month roadmap that allows you to continuously enhance your website. Use the MoSCoW (Must, Should, Could, Would) methodology to deliver the “Must haves” and “Should haves” for launch.

A word of warning here – when putting together the requirements for your website make sure you’re doing exactly that. It is easy to get carried away and add requirements for a whole host of additional functionality which support your digital roadmap, when actually that requirement is better served by a different application. The requirement here would be something along the lines of “ability to connect/integrate to a third party site, probably through the use of an API”.

Also make sure you think about what type of service model you will need to meet your ongoing needs, and put these into your requirements. If you don’t have an inhouse developer, make sure you include development and ongoing support in your requirements – you want to make sure you have a website that moves with you rather than finding that you’re stuck with an ailing website 18 months after launch.**

Now is also a good time to benchmark and set some KPIs for your new site. Of course your analytics are a great source for some of this information, but don’t forget to include some stats from your user surveys. If you work in an industry that is open to sharing information you may also have access to how other comparable organisation’s sites perform and want to include some of this information.

Spend time going through your user research and creating user personas. These will prove invaluable when you’re designing your new site and writing content. By really understanding your target audience, and their key user journey you can create a site and content which reflects and meets their needs.

*For those that know me well, you will know that right now I’m whispering (in my outdoor voice) – “Open Source”, “Drupal”, “Collaboration”.
**If you work in local government, the Local GovDrupal project is really worth taking a look at, for a true collaborative service and development model.

Step 3: Design your new website and implement your changes

Tender and procurement

Of course the first part of this is most likely the tender and procurement process – if you have a particular deadline you have to meet for the delivery of your new site, make sure you include this in the procurement process so that everyone is aware of your timescales.

Once you have your selected supplier, there will no doubt be a kick off meeting for the project and various steps they will need to take in order to deliver your new site.

Content and IA

My advice here, if you haven’t already, is to start thinking about your content and information architecture now. Use your user personas and ROT analysis to ensure your IA and content are clear and user friendly.

As part of your analysis you will have most likely looked at content and identified areas of improvement. If you move to your new site without addressing these issues the chances are your new site won’t be as successful as you’d like. It’s time to edit, rewrite and delete so that your new content truly meets the needs of your end users.

If your content is already in pretty good shape this can be straightforward, and you may even consider content migration and then editing on your new site instead. However, most of the projects I’ve been involved in have had a substantial amount of content work and I have opted to eschew content migration to ensure that everything has been looked at.

You don’t have to do this alone – speak to the subject matter experts in your organisation, utilise your existing team or bring in a content specialist. I’d also suggest plenty of tea and an afternoon Hobnob to get you through.

New functionality

You also need to consider any new functionality you’re bringing in as part of your new site or that you need to connect with. Online forms, maps, payment portals, SSO, CRM, databases… make a list, get it on the project plan and start speaking to people now.

Design your new website and implement your changes 1. Agree deadline 2. Hold a kick off meeting 3. Use your user personas and ROT analysis to plan IA and update content 4. Complete any content migration 5. Consider any new functionality needed

Step 4: Maintain and evolve the amazing website you've created

Woohoo! It’s launch day. Due to your thorough preparation you are launching on schedule, you madly hit refresh while you wait for the new site to go live and once it does the sense of relief and accomplishment is fantastic. Perhaps you celebrate with a fancy coffee, or by booking that holiday you have been dreaming of since the start of this project.

But what else? Maintain and evolve. At the beginning you will most likely be focussed on ensuring that the site is performing as expected and making minor changes to content, but after that has worn off it’s time to think about what next. It might be that you have already identified what’s in scope for phase 2 of your project, in which case you can start to map this out and plan. If not it’s time to revisit your original discovery and map out what’s coming next for your website.

I’d also be tempted to rerun your user survey now, if you need to secure funding for the next step of your project these can be quite handy in building your business case and also provide an early indication on the success of your launch.

Once you’ve done this? See Step 1…

Maintain and evolve website 1. Ensure that your site runs as expected 2. Make your content changes 3. Map out what’s coming next for your website 4. Re-perform your user experience survey
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Evolve your intranet with an agile approach

I’ve launched a few intranets over the last 20 years, however I found moving to an Agile framework truly set the intranet free!

To be perfectly honest I was probably a little sceptical the first time a development team said they wanted to use ‘Agile’. I had developed a good number of intranets over the years and ‘normal’ development approaches seemed to have worked fine in the past.

However I am always open to new challenges and happily signed up for ‘Certified Scrum Product Owner’ training and I really hit the jackpot. The trainer, Gabrielle Benefield (Evolve Beyond), was very experienced and extremely engaging. It was two days training but well worth making the time for, and by the end of the course I was hooked.

The basic steps of the Agile development framework are:

  • Gather the business requirements

    • Stakeholder interviews

    • User research

    • Business objectives

  • Analyse and break these requirements into the individual features and functionality to create a Product Backlog. Dan Radigan explains more in his article: The product backlog: your ultimate to-do list

  • Write ‘user stories’ for each item – “As an X, I want to Y, so I can Z”. This enables the developers and testers to understand who requires what, and why. One way of approaching this is a cognitive walkthrough, detailed in this blog by Brendan Carikas.

  • Work with the development team to estimate the time required to develop each item, then prioritise the items to deliver the Minimum Viable Products (MVP), to be ready to launch to the users

I was then ready to start the first ‘Sprint’, which in our case was two weeks long.

  1. On the first day of each ‘Sprint’ I met with the development team to go through the items I wanted them to work on

  2. Each morning I joined the ‘Stand up’ meeting with the development team to review the progress they had made the day before and hear what they would be doing that day. It also gave everyone a chance to ask any question that had arisen

  3. During the ‘Sprint’ we would meet to ‘Refine the Backlog’ to adjust and agree what were the priorities for the next ‘Sprint’

  4. As the developers finished each item in the ‘Sprint’ it was tested

  5. Then at the end of the ‘Sprint’ the developers demo each completed item

  6. And then it’s back to Step 1 to start the next ‘Sprint’

With Agile development, every bit of functionality becomes a moveable feast and can be refined and developed to hone the user experience.

It’s great because new requirements always come from left field and it allows you to re-prioritise features and functionality throughout the development process.

And after the go-live… Agile allows you to continue the development, to add new functionality and refine the intranet on an on-going basis. This ensures the intranet does not stand still and keeps the users engaged as new features are made available.

The Product Owner role proved to be time consuming but very satisfying! The quality of the end product is great if you put that time in, but it is well worth the effort.

My usability Golden Rules

I was very lucky to work with a great team of developers who with a little guidance from me soon came to share my own Golden Rules:

  • Technology should be invisible – no one cares what it’s built on

  • Never compromise on the quality of the user experience

  • And remember the user plea, ‘Don’t make me think!’

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4 key stages for effective business analysis

4 key stages for effective business analysis

With any internal communications platform, it is vital to embed an experience that supports your culture and is focused on meeting user needs.

In order to achieve a platform that meets all of your organisational needs, the process has to begin with a thorough analysis from all stakeholders and target audiences.

Ensure you have the means to discover and analyse the following:

  • What do your users want from the platform?
  • Who are the stakeholders, and what does success look like for them?
  • The process of transitioning business needs into technical requirements
  • How can you design the platform and the service model to allow you to continuously evolve your platform when your user needs change?

1. Understanding your users (User research)

The success of internal communications depends on analysing your end users, then fully understanding their behaviours, needs and motivations for using your current internal communications platforms.

To gather this information, a range of processes are available and one or all may be appropriate to your users:

  • User interviews can offer more in depth understanding of what does and does not work, perhaps to take place after a questionnaire or survey has helped to identify the main challenges your users are having.
  • Interactive Workshops that analyse a number of tasks that users would usually be asked to complete. Observations of your user’s behaviours can help to identify any challenges faced when completing the tasks.
  • Platform analytics allow a better understanding of the types of journeys your users are taking. Identifying recurring trends will help to understand challenges your users are facing.

Once feedback is gathered, analysed and combined with any available data analytics, you will have a better understanding of the bigger picture of the challenges your users face with your internal communication platforms.

This thorough evaluation of your previous or existing platform(s), will determine what things worked well and what things didn’t, helping you to create a plan to ensure your new platform meets all of your users’ needs.

2. Understand your data (Data mastery)

At this stage, you have established what you need to achieve and you are able to move on to the ‘how’.

Data Mastery & Integrations

It’s really important to understand the information your users are looking for on your platform, the types of data that provide this information, and where that data should be mastered.

Often, it’s a lot more beneficial to master your data in a ‘single source of truth’ and then integrate this into your platform(s). This prevents information becoming outdated and inaccurate across multiple platforms. For example, an Active Directory mastering all of your user data.

By analysing the data that will be included on your platform, you’ll have a better understanding of the stakeholders that you’ll need to engage as part of your project to avoid any surprises and gaps in resource.

3. Identifying your stakeholders (Stakeholder engagement)

Determining your success criteria demands an understanding of the requirements in all parts of your organisation. Different departments will have different goals so it’s important to implement a solution that meets as many needs as possible.

Defining the objectives involves identifying exactly what your stakeholders want. Do they need a tool to improve engagement and collaboration, or do they value a place to house all of your documentation such as policies and manuals more?

A successful solution requires you to connect the dots between all stakeholders, creating and structuring success criteria for your communications platforms, to deliver a meaningful outcome for each of your stakeholders and their users.

  • Creative stakeholder workshops can be useful, with the primary focus of understanding the collective thoughts of the wider team of what is and isn’t working with your content and communications strategy.
  • Stakeholder interviews, and using questionnaires and surveys, can also establish a clear understanding of their thoughts on current and prospective content and communication strategies.

Once you have established stakeholder requirements your information strategy reviews are made much more straightforward.

Everything achieved so far will be identified, and you will have a much clearer view of any challenges that may prevent you from delivering.

In identifying who your platform stakeholders are, you will also introduce accountability to the platform which will ensure the system is always valued and invested in.

With all this addressed, you are in a position to outline your initial vision, what you want to achieve and also establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor progress.

4. Identifying the best solution (Solution mapping)

Once you’re aware of:

  • the challenges your users are facing
  • the stakeholders who are going to help you make the platform a success
  • the types of data and information that will be on, or plugged into, your platform

all that’s left to do is select your preferred solution. At least you thought.

All of the above provides you with half of the information you need, the second half is actually understanding whether there is a platform on the market for you to procure out-of-the-box, or if you need to build it yourself and therefore find the resources to do so.

On many occasions, an out of the box product will never meet 100% of your requirements from the outset, so it’s important not to expect it to.

Categorise your final requirements into:

  • must haves
  • could haves
  • should haves

and focus primarily on finding a solution that delivers 90% of the former and allows you to get the ball rolling.

Then, work with a trusted supplier to define a roadmap that helps you achieve the final 10% and targets the could/should haves in the following 3-6 months.

Alternatively, if you have the resources to do so, map your requirements into technical specifications, along with user journeys, and the challenges that will be overcome, before designing and developing a new platform.

You don’t have to do this alone, there are some great suppliers out here with decades of experience in your section and others who have lots of learnings to share.

Remember, whether you procure an out of the box product, or develop a solution yourself, be mindful of the following.

  1. User research and data analytics to drive each of your requirements for the platform
  2. Ensure your platform works just as efficiently independently as it does when connected to others
  3. Your platform should allow you to iterate easily, and evolve when your business needs do so

Talk to us

If we can support you with Business Analysis or you’d simply like to learn more, please feel free to talk to us.

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