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Chapter 11. Organizational Structure > Escalation of Problems

Escalation of Problems

When positioning the usability team, be sure to consider the chain of escalation for problems. With a new institutionalization effort, there are sure to be clashes, including problems with funding, staffing, and even specific design decisions. There may also be some stubborn vice president who feels that a wiggly animation will really improve sales—especially accompanied by a short and continuously looping music track. The project teams can bring these types of problems to the central usability group, and the leader of the central group can try to resolve issues. Usually, a composite video of users complaining about download time and annoyance with the design convinces the well-intentioned executive. However, this approach does not always work. So what should the appropriate escalation path be? This is a critical question.

The CXO is the ideal path for escalation. Only the CXO has unambiguous responsibility for the user experience and a position high enough in the organization to successfully resolve these types of issues. Without the escalation path to the CXO in place, there is a potential for problems. A usability group in marketing may clash with the senior executive who has strong design ideas. A usability group in IT may clash with the executive who just wants to get the site up on time, regardless of user issues. A usability group embroiled in design problems may get little help from a manager who is responsible for writing procedures, best practices, or quality assurance reports. The escalation path will go up through the area where the central usability group has been situated. If this is not under a CXO, it may be in marketing, IT, quality assurance, and so on. But the pathway of escalation must be credible and effective.


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