When David Krizan joined Fluke Corporation five and a half years ago, he was surprised by how complex the company was. Fluke is a subsidiary of Fortive and has several subsidiaries itself — including Amprobe, Raytek, PRUFTECHNIK, and Irisys.
David himself has been in the UX industry for 18 years, with stints at Boeing and Microsoft before he joined Fluke. He’s no stranger to complexity. But as Fluke moved forward to slowly and strategically unify all of the various engineering groups under a single, centralized engineering group, David realized that there was a serious problem with how the research was stored and shared.
“There’s been obviously some growing pains,” David shared with us during a recent conversation. “Different software tools being used, different work cultures and work environments, different geographic locations. ... We just have so much work going on and so many products and there are some overlaps too.”
Fluke’s engineering team has recently spun off of it, conducts a lot of research — and there was different or no standard for how that research was housed or shared across teams.
“When I first came here, it really wasn't being shared very well at all,” David said. “It'd be on Box folders, FTP sites, ShareDrive, in OneNotes, in Slack messages, in Teams messages. There's just so many different places that we found VoC.”
David was put on a project the moment he joined Fluke, and he struggled to find the existing research. Worse than having too many places to look for information, he found that some of the research was in people’s heads.
He shared, “There were experts that had been working in the company for 20 years that knew everything, and they had their own kind of knowledge bases. Just trying to get access to everything, it was a nightmare. Everything was scattered across the ether.”
In his first year at Fluke, he started exploring possible solutions. Initially, he looked at what systems they were already using, like SharePoint and Confluence, to see if any might be worth trying to scale.
“I came across a tool called Airtable at the time,” David said. “This seemed really promising because it was a relational database that was fairly approachable for regular users. It could hold files, unlike Access or Excel, and it could link other content together — so you could link a research session to observations, to insights, to the company's users, the features, all these different things.”
David experimented using Airtable with a single project to see what it might be capable of. Unfortunately, when he tried to take it beyond that single project, it didn’t scale well — and it was hard to get other people to adopt it. “When you showed it to a user, especially someone that wasn't a researcher, their eyes just glazed over,” he said.
He knew it was time to do research for a new research repository.
Conducting His Own User Research
“I reached out to everybody who was conducting user research or VoC (voice of customer research is what they call that here in the company),” David said. “I had over 100 users that I started interviewing just to try to understand what they were all doing, what their processes were, what tools they were using.
“Horrifyingly, I found that there were eight different surveying tools being used [across the enterprise]. There was Slack, Microsoft Teams, OneNote, Evernote, different ShareDrives, just different data in so many different places. I think there were over 60 sources as I was going through this.”
In addition to discovering all the various instances of all the various tools, David discovered about 20 major issues in the survey he conducted around recruiting, collecting research, and locating research.
Now that he had the data, it was time to test some possible solutions.
Narrowing the Field
“I started testing out the top 10 [research repository] tools, and about 5 of them boiled to the top,” David said. “It was Airtable, EnjoyHQ, Dovetail, Aurelius, and there were a couple of QDAs, qualitative data analysis tools, which are more academic, research institution-focused, and really hard to adopt.”
David found that Airtable was very agnostic as a simple, relational database, and it was easily integrated — but it wasn't approachable. Another challenge he had with Airtable was that it lacked the focused features of a true research repository. Tools like Dovetail were approachable, but not easily integrated.
He wanted something like a polished repository so that users would be able to use it well into the future. “If a user comes back to that five years from now, I'd like them to be able to glean something at a glance, or be able to make it highly searchable so that you could easily find it in the future.”
Enjoy Bubbles Up
“EnjoyHQ bubbled to the top for a lot of different reasons,” David shared. “How it handled videos, how it handled the organization between projects, how the tagging and property system worked in there, being able to build a research taxonomy. The automation rules were pretty huge too.”
David began using EnjoyHQ with a small user base. “Fluke is a company that likes to vet something before we launch it at scale across the company. So, for about the first year, we viewed it as an experiment mostly focused on the engineering team.”
He and his initial set of users systematically pulled in research reports and recordings and built up the taxonomy and structure. Then they began applying automation rules to automatically classify research as it was entered.
Over time, David and his EnjoyHQ testing team brought in more users with different experience levels. As the data began really flowing into the system, David was able to see where more education was needed, and what standards they needed to put in place.
David’s Patience Pays Off
David’s methodical rollout of EnjoyHQ has paid dividends. Not only is researching much easier to find and use, now, but the system has become an enabler of organizational growth.
“We don't have a dedicated ResearchOps team in our company yet, but we've kind of created the precursor to one. It's been an enabler for that,” David said. “And we actually just created the first research-dedicated role over the last year. We're going to try to expand that over time to have basically a dedicated research team that we can use and then eventually, spread that even further across the company.”
David has found that EnjoyHQ has been a “gamechanger” for giving new employees a starting point for research. Information is easier to find in EnjoyHQ, and users can see connections between data in the system.
A Word to the Wise
David’s advice to new users is to give yourself time to build up your research repository in EnjoyHQ. “This takes time. It's not going to happen overnight. But it starts paying dividends over time. … You start seeing that aha moment happening, where people are like, ‘Oh, wow, this is a lot more powerful than just searching my inbox or a ShareDrive.’”