What I love about user research is that I always learn something that surprises me and today’s call with a Mifos customer in Lebanon was no exception. After working with the demo software and reading the user manual, I was beginning to formulate some user “personas” who are typical of the people who use the Mifos software and why.
It seems to me there are 3 general users:
- loan officer – the person who creates loans and interacts with borrowers
- manager (probably several flavors – branch, office, regional?) – the person who manages a group of loan officers and wants to know how loans are performing
- system administrator – the person (or people) who maintain the Mifos software, the network and security, install and update, configure, etc.
Currently, the Mifos software distinguishes user’s somewhat by permissions, but each user must search for their loans or borrowers of interest, or drill down through the hierarchy starting with a branch office (which can be quite a long list). It has a dashboard, but the data shown is generic. I was already beginning to think that “dashboards” customized for user type would be a great addition to the UI.
In the case of this customer, the loan officer doesn’t actually interact with the Mifos software at all. They have Field Office Assistants (FOAs) who enter all the customer data into the Mifos system and print out the daily assignments for the loan officers. Partly, this is because it is difficult to see an aggregate view of a specific set of borrowers or loans. Hence some validation for the dashboard idea. Ooh, I’m so excited!
But wait, don’t jump to conclusions. Must obey one of the first rules of usability – never take the feedback of one person as representative of all users.
More calls coming this week. And, or course, the reason for travel to India and Kenya is to actually see Mifos customers at work in their “natural habitat”. Stay tuned!