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Rethinking Performance Evaluation

SAP July 2006 - March 2007
Research findings December 2006 / BPR executive workshop January 2007 / Product vision prototype March 2007​

The Summary:

The executive board of SAP was interested in leveraging my team’s customized Design-Led Innovation process to re-imagine an enterprise performance management product offering fundamentally different from what we had in the market at the time. This charter also offered us the opportunity to positively influence the company’s own disjointed global processes.


Plum Blossom is the enterprise product innovation for Curate tasks: to collect and organize any kind of content in an on-device visual file system. This unique offering was designed to be difficult-to-copy and available to be leveraged by one of three available brand channels. 

Content is arranged in dynamic templates and users can decorate their collections with stickers and ‘iffies’ (if/then reminders). Users can make their own templates, and developers can build and offer additional tools through a plug-in architecture.

The Issues:

Based on technical constraints of the Android operating system, the needs and requests of users, and system usability, we ran the risk of hitting a dead end on this concept. In order to test the concepts and move the design forward, we had to overcome the learning curves on mobile prototyping tools and technologies as well as on Android. The looming prospect of big changes with Nougat also complicated matters. 


Methods Applied:



Qualitative Interviews

Product 'Concept Car' Presentation

Executive Stakeholder Workshop

Primary Role:

User Research Lead, led the project team through all research, synthesis, and brainstorming activities to deliver research themes.


  • (2) Product Managers

  • (2) Lead Designers

  • (2) Research Interns

  • Global HR Stakeholders (Director-level)


  • A successful research synthesis workshop, where key stakeholders participated in the consolidation of themes, pain points, and opportunities

  • A set of guiding design principles

  • A conceptual prototype of a possible performance management tool that supports ongoing change and loosely-coupled feedback of various forms

  • A successful business process redesign workshop that aligned performance management process globally for the company .

Research Details

Interviews - Product 'Concept Car'  - Executive Workshop

With the assistance of undergraduate interns and other colleagues, a rather large data set of 56 qualitative interviews were conducted. These interviews were all internal to the company, covered all global regions, and contained a strategic selection of roles and functional levels.  Interview topics centered around the existing performance evaluation process and the approved tools used to formally submit them.
Executive sponsors and key stakeholders then carved out multiple days to participate in data processing through storytelling and affinity diagramming. The result was a concrete set of design principles used both for prototyping a new performance evaluation product and creating global alignment around one performance evaluation process. 
1 Qualitative Interviews
Conduct qualitative interviews and moderate a group synthesis process with the help of several team members. 
Photos of research process and results
2 Supporting Materials for Product 'Concept Car' 
Conceptual feedback from a real panel of Android mobile device users using prototype designs in the field. Insights used to iterate upon the design.
In addition to the design principles, the synthesis exercise gave us themes, pain points, and opportunities that needed to be packaged up in a way that would best serve two purposes. The first was to support the development of a prototype design to help us illustrate what was possible in terms of an overall approach to performance management. The second was to support an executive stakeholder workshop where we would attempt to redesign the company's existing process for performance management, which was badly broken.

What was key here was to be able to tell the right stories through an archetype who captured an 80% case of the pain points we uncovered in interviews. I led the team through a co-designing process for building the persona as well as primary user scenarios. This content was then distributed across user flows prototyped by the design leads which, as a whole, illustrated the innovation. 

Photos of support materials and 'Concept Car'
3 Global Enterprise Process Redesign

The team hosted executive sponsors and select global leadership for a 3-day workshop event. Tasks included a comprehensive mapping of all the disjointed performance evaluation activities on a timeline, a review of the research findings, a walk-through of the product concept prototype, and negotiations with the timeline while various activities were rearranged/aligned. 
With this format, we were able to reach a consensus on a new aligned process and the steps necessary to migrate to it over the course of the subsequent year.
Process workshopping and result images

© 2017 by Peter Roessler.

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