Want feedback on your MRM system? Shadow users for insights.


One of the best ways to gather feedback from users of your marketing resource management system is to observe them in their working environment, using the system. As an administrator, you can use the feedback to improve internal processes and training, as well as gain insight into the usability of the system that you can communicate to your vendor for possible enhancement ideas. Shadowing users in their natural setting is perhaps one of the best ways to gather feedback because you can see everything first hand.

If you’re looking for some thorough feedback, follow these helpful tips for shadowing. 

Develop trust. Before shadowing a user, make sure they know your intentions. Why are you there, what are you hoping to accomplish, what will you do with the feedback, and how will it affect them? Make sure they know you’re not there to look over their shoulder and scrutinize every little move. Let them know it’s okay if they make mistakes or have problems using particular areas of the system. This is the type of information you’ll want to know so you can adapt training to include more time on challenging areas.

Set a goal. What are you hoping to accomplish by shadowing? Have a set task you want to watch the user perform. Don’t give them too much time to prepare and “practice” or you risk losing valuable insight into what their natural workflow might be if you weren’t there. If possible, set up a screen record so you can reference the mouse movements, time to complete activities, etc, at a later time.

Make observations. Look beyond the actual task being performed. How is the user's mood? Is their body language communicating ease or frustration? Look at the pace at which the task is completed or if there are interruptions that the user regularly faces.

Observe multiple users. For a more complete view into how your users are using the system, shadow several users. You may find that each person does a task a bit different, or that many users are getting hung up in the same spot. Or, you may find that one user has found a more efficient way to complete the task, which you could relay to other users.

Ask questions. Be sure to ask questions to fully understand what the user is doing and why. As much as possible, try to save your questions until the end of a task so as not to interrupt the user from their natural flow. If you must interrupt, be sure to wait until a transition where it may be less distracting for the user.

While observing users, try to answer as many of these questions as possible to give yourself the most comprehensive look at the task being performed.

  1. What is the user doing and why?
  2. Who does the user interact with?
  3. Where are they using the site?
  4. What information is available?
  5. What did they like doing?
  6. What didn’t they like doing?
  7. How often were they interrupted?
  8. What did they struggle with?
  9. What tasks did they need to look up information to complete?
  10. What needs/wishes does the user have?

While shadowing users may take a bit more time than simply deploying a feedback survey, it will provide the best insight into your user's behaviors and give you actionable items to improve your internal processes. There’s no substitute for first hand knowledge and seeing a user working in their natural environment.

If you liked this article and are looking for more tips for managing your marketing resource center, check out other best practices in the S4 News.

About the author

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Amy Galabinski

Amy Galabinski

Amy is the former S4 MRC Services Manager. In her role, she led software development plans, oversaw product implementations, and served as the customer advocate to the Suttle-Straus' S4 MRC team.
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Topics: Best Practices