Creating a scalable ResearchOps strategy.
These thoughts are mine alone, I do not speak on behalf of any organization.
A program of over 100 cross-disciplinary consultants, including experts in Accessibility, UX, Product, Engineering, and Program Management.
Design Manager/ UX Research Lead
~ 7 months
Over 16 million people utilize The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) health care and medicare marketplaces to enroll in health care each year during the Open Enrollment (OE) period. As UX lead on a program of 100 multidisciplinary consultants, I led and managed a team of 15 senior UX designers, with 7 reporting directly to me. Our product portfolio included a wide range of health care and Medicare-related service design initiatives focused on the application, plan selection, enrollment, and account management experiences.
Our program had limited access to user research and the stakeholder research team due to contract limitations. This impacted our product work and affected the maturity of our research thinking throughout the program.
Through my own user research of the program, attending product team meetings, stakeholder workshops, and organizing 1-on-1s with over a third of the entire program in my first month, I recognized that in order to mature HCD application, we needed to strengthen our access and application of user research across disciplines and products.
One of my first initiatives was to revamp our Open Enrollment user research observation and synthesis strategy to create a scalable, repeatable ResearchOps framework. This strategy was to serve as MVP for not only future OEs, but also individual product team user research initiatives and facilitate the operationalizing of both quantitative and qualitative research across the program. This framework needed to be flexible enough to accommodate different types of research and accessible to a multidisciplinary 100-person program with varying levels of research experience maturity and availability.
For more work in craft maturity see:
During Open Enrollment (OE), our program has the opportunity to observe the end-to-end (E2E) user research conducted by CMS on Account creation, Application, Health care plan selection, and Enrollment. I created a framework and collaboration strategy to operationalize the research observer experience from notetaking and synthesis to research application in product decisions and roadmaps.
OE research observations had been historically burdensome for product teams to collaboratively take notes, synthesize, and apply the findings.
I worked with the various product teams to setup notetaking boards related to their products, write goals, and form hypotheses. I created an observing and notetaking guide and hosted several training workshops, as well as, research debrief sessions throughout OE. Upon study completion, I worked with product teams to code and synthesize observations and held program-wide workshops to identify key insights, triangulate our results, and begin incorporating findings into program and product strategy. We then collaborated with our government stakeholders to set high level agency-wide goals.
Overall, we saw a significant increase in OE observer participation, and the UX practice check-in survey showed a high level of support for this new observation methodology. We are continuing to mature our program with more consistency in applied research practices and cross-product knowledge-sharing. Additionally, I am working with program leadership and stakeholders to revisit the contract and research processes, with the aim of bridging gaps between the researcher and product teams, and facilitating alignment and growth in human-centered design.