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Building Design Research into the Culture of Delivery in APAC

Geoffrey Parsons

Associate Director, Research & Insight, EPAM Hong Kong

When developing technology solutions, it can be difficult to see what the end product is going to look like, and the ability to quickly and efficiently test various design iterations is imperative to identifying what works best for your business.

At the early stages of design, it’s best to iterate a solution in a realistic environment where it can be tested with users before written to code.

Back in 2016 when a customer needed research facilities and moderators across China for service design exploration, we jumped at the opportunity to open a research lab in our Shenzhen offices. We realized that we could better serve our clients if we had these capabilities in-house.

The lab allows us to flexibly experiment with process, operations and training services, while building human-centered principles into the foundation of our engineering practice.

Harmonizing Design and Engineering Practices

By having a usability lab embedded right into a delivery center, we can conduct lean studies for clients or guerrilla research for design concepts with much tighter iteration cycles. By coordinating research closely with both design and engineering teams, we’re able to realize the true value of the agile workflow.

The lab connects designers and engineers rather than silo their efforts. By collaborating in this agile environment, developers can experience the user-centric design process while designers experience the boundaries of technology and its impact on design decisions. This allows each team to better understand the other’s approach and improve the delivery process.

Nurturing Employee Skills, Continuously

One of the most important benefits of leveraging a usability lab is providing employees with continuous training and development opportunities. The lab has been used as a tool for recurring training sessions and multi-day boot camps that bring engineers into the design world and keep the research skills of designers sharp.

Additionally, teams can easily develop different iterations of internal products and systems, as well as experience the entire research process – from gathering objectives to roadmapping to project planning and finally to delivery.

Realizing the Benefits of a Design Research Approach

From ideation to delivery, the process of developing services is unique for each business. Oftentimes, businesses don’t know to ask for usability testing, but when a usability test is executed properly, it ensures that all partners and stakeholders are aligned and can bring this shared vision to life.

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