Usability in procurement

Incorporating usability requirements in the procurement process can reduce the risk of failure when implementing a newly acquired system and increase ease of use and thus productivity and/or profitability.

  • Lack of user performance requirements was a fundamental reason for the expensive costs and delays incurred when new passport issuing software developed by Siemens was installed in the UK [reference 12].
  • Two studies have shown that the user success rate in purchasing from current ecommerce web sites is in the range of 25-60% [references 10,13]. Small improvements in user performance could lead to substantial increases in revenue.

Defining requirements for user performance and satisfaction is not difficult to do, and involves three related activities: analysing the context of use, defining task scenarios, and specifying testable requirements for effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction for each scenario. Evaluating usability requirements needs a carefully designed usability test with at least 8 representative users carrying out realistic tasks.

The PRUE web site provides a guide for how to specify and test usability requirements as part of a contractual relationship between a supplier and acquirer. It includes case studies of four trials carried out in Europe by the EU-funded PRUE project.

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