My most successful UX project (that no one knows about)

Keyboard showing green solutions key

Let me tell you about my favourite project.

A decade ago, I was part of a small group of women who made something happen that was small and huge at the same time. We were incredibly successful and nearly no one knows the story. It's a lovely little secret that we all share.

I led the first enterprise cloud-hosted software purchase made by the government of Canada for use by all of its core departments. I worked with a small group of five women from various departments to manage the tendering process and bid selection. I consulted with departments, worked with users to find the right solution, wrote a solid statement of work and requirements, and then brought in the rest of these brilliant people to run the process and evaluate bids.

The idea was so new that the SaaS companies struggled to bid initially because they had never sold to the government.

A winning bid was selected, a contract was awarded, and the government had its first enterprise SaaS.

When the contract was signed and the project moved to implementation, it rolled out across departments rather seamlessly. A decade later, the software is still in use by most departments.

A few years after we bought it, a top exec joined the government and started touting a different project as the government's first cloud-hosted solution. But we knew better. We sent each other messages reminding ourselves that a small group of feisty, smart women had already taken the government there. And we laughed that no one even knew or remembered.

Why didn't they know? Because it just worked

There was nothing complicated about the solution; it just met the need. 

There was no fanfare around the contract signing; it just got signed.

There was no big to-do about getting departments to buy-in; they just did because the solution made sense.

In the years since, I have worked on a number of other high-profile enterprise initiatives and on small hidden projects. Enterprise or high-profile projects drive me insane. Put me in the corner and let me do my thing any day of the week; that's where I will find my bliss. No fanfare, no politicking, no posturing. Just straight-forward user-centered design.

I loved that project. I still love that project. It was seamless. I hold it up for myself as an example of how easy it can be to get stuff done in government.

The best solutions - the ones that have the longest lasting impact - aren't the biggest, the splashiest, or the loudest. They are the ones that best meet user needs. They are innovative in their simplicity. They are creative in their straight-forwardness. They are the ones that just work.

I love that there is this project that pre-dates all the other SaaS implementations, which served to prove that enterprise cloud-hosted apps were a viable model for gov. It was a fun innovative project with a fantastic project team and a huge (if not silent) success.

That's my favourite kind of win. And no one knows. (Ok, now you know a little :)