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Methods – Process Analysis

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What it is:

This design method maps out a specific process in discrete steps, informed by interview and observation. These steps are agreed with users and/or those familiar with the process and mapped out. There are many process analysis tools – Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is particularly well suited to support design development. With FMEA, once the process map is agreed, a small group of users is convened by the designer to analyse and score each step, giving the designer an in-depth understanding of the process.

Input:

Expertise:

Time:

Staffing:

Costs:

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Output:

Detailed understanding of a process (such as a task, transaction, activity or journey)

Best suited to:

 

DISCOVER

Early explore-and-focus stages of the design process

Identifying precise points at which design could improve the process

Characteristics:

DESIGNING FOR | WITH | BY PEOPLE

Type of interaction:

LEARN | LOOK | ASK | TRY | IMAGINE

Goes well with:

Interviews, Day in the Life, Observation & Shadowing, Video Ethnography

What designers say

‘…It enabled us to focus in a more structured way, rather than the softer approaches that designers usually take…’ – Grace Davey

Examples

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Redesign of the resuscitation trolley

Designers Jonathan West and Sally Halls ran an FMEA with staff to find out where the errors were in the process of resuscitation in hospitals. This informed the subsequent redesign of the resuscitation trolley.

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Designing Out Medical Error

Designers Jonathan West and Grace Davey observed five common processes on hospital wards, and ran five FMEAs with different staff and patients. The results informed the design of different concepts to improve ward processes and reduce medical error.

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Background and further reading

Martin J Norris B et al (2007) Medical Device Development: The Challenge for Ergonomics, in Applied Ergonomics