A customized approach to meeting strategic business priorities and operationalizing research
When they came to us, Cytel—a leading provider of statistical software and advanced analytics for clinical trial design and execution—was struggling to address two different challenges simultaneously: user retention with their flagship product and user adoption with a new product. The Cytel team questioned whether features past and present were in line with customer needs and the future vision of their product suite.
Cytel was ready for change: they wanted to move away from reactionary product decisions driven by anecdotes and dominated by internal perspectives. They needed a partner to help bring in the voice of users to their strategic decision-making and transform their UX process systematically.
ZoCo approached our work together as a true partner, not just a vendor. Their team embraced collaborative problem-solving and made us feel like we were in the same boat figuring things out together.
—Scott Gaines, Cytel Chief Product Officer
The pharmaceutical clinical trial space is technically complex and heavily regulated, making the importance of finding the right external partner critical. Cytel needed help creating a research process that was effective and could also be quickly and easily adopted by their entire UX team. We set out to make them believers in our ability to create a process despite industry complexity and, more importantly, help elevate their internal research operations.
But there was a problem. A few, actually. Once we started to collaborate with their team, we learned:
We created a customized Research Assessment and Recommendations document which introduced an unbiased, outside perspective to challenge organizational norms in a supportive way, but also offer new possible solutions.
Overall, we were able to provide recommendations for creating a research process that was feasible, scalable, and specific to their organization. We also positioned their new research process for long-term success by building a panel of participants that Cytel can call on for future studies.
You don’t need a perfect organization to have a thriving and effective research process. Our discovery process with Cytel allowed us to define processes and documentation, personalized to Cytel’s unique culture and way of doing things, that will exist long after our work ends and set their team up to repeat this type of work successfully on their own.
While solving these operational challenges, Cytel began to contemplate a new strategic vision for their products, but they were missing one thing to feel confident: voice of user.
They needed clarity around what their users needed and confidence that the changes they envisioned would align with their customers.
The UX team is doing some good work, but we could benefit from more user research, user involvement in the design process, the use of UX metrics, and educating non-UX team members (e.g. engineering, leadership) on UX.
—Eric Edwards, Cytel Director of User Experience
We worked to identify key themes for Cytel to consider as they evolved their strategy and brought voice of user into internal and external communications by:
After months of work, a new vision crystallized for Cytel; becoming the ultimate clinical trials design platform and shifting from a portfolio of standalone products to a platform of tightly integrated and complementary products with a single UX.
Our work helped Cytel validate their strategy and move quickly to execute many changes. As one example, Cytel elevated its approach to open source from a minor technical feature to a core strategic focus. They leaned into a 'better together' experience that supports user customization of standard designs.
In addition to surfacing new insights, ZoCo validated multiple strategic decisions, which helped us move forward with more confidence and greater speed.
— Scott Gaines, Cytel Chief Product Officer
Operationalizing research can be challenging, but our approach helps companies tackle those barriers and create a successful research program.
Our work with Cytel helped them shift from reactive decision making to a proactive approach that is informed by customer insights. And because our work was tailored to who Cytel is today, they’re able to incorporate user feedback into their vision, strategy, and process without needing to fundamentally change their operations.
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