Fostering collaboration between HF practitioners and interdisciplinary teams

March 21, 2024

Many organizations overlook the reality that integrating human factors (HF) and human systems integration (HSI) into the systems engineering process is critical to the success of their product and systems. In-depth collaboration with HF practitioners can help to better understand and evaluate the interactions between users and product systems. Through steps such as educating organizations on HF principles, fostering collaboration with interdisciplinary teams, and working with current company structure to implement these principles, organizations can identify ways to utilize HF practitioners for ultimate success.

Steps to fostering collaboration with HF practitioners

Collaboration with interdisciplinary teams is a key component of integrating HF and HSI into an organization. The systems engineering lifecycle demands effective collaboration between developers, designers, human factors experts, and other stakeholders to create user-centered and efficient systems.  These interdisciplinary teams effectively identify and address usability issues early in the systems engineering lifecycle.

Engage stakeholders through immersive user testing

To enable engineers and managers to grasp the significance of human factors and embrace user-centered design, encourage involvement in user testing. This can allow teams to see firsthand the real challenges and frustrations faced by users. By actively participating in these sessions, engineers and management will gain important exposure to the hurdles users encounter.

Through this process, teams can identify usability issues and comprehend the necessity of weaving HF considerations into every stage of development, in turn encouraging stakeholders to champion user-centered design, allocate resources for usability improvements, and seek future opportunities for collaboration.

Integrate HF principles into the design process

Introduce processes that foster interdisciplinary collaboration and engagement in the engineering lifecycle. Take, for instance, Google design sprints—a structured problem-solving framework that offers a concise and effective approach to problem-solving and decision-making. Conducted over a week, design sprints assemble diverse teams comprising experts from human factors, development, design, and other relevant fields. Together, they tackle specific challenges or opportunities through five key phases: Understand, Define, Sketch, Decide, and Prototype/Test. Across phases, these sprints encourage active collaboration and engagement among team members.

By working closely together, team members gather insights, analyze data, and share knowledge, ensuring a shared understanding of challenges. This collaborative effort facilitates alignment between human factors experts and other stakeholders regarding user needs and system requirements.

Encouraging integration of HF practitioners

Organizations that incorporate human factors experts as full members of their interdisciplinary teams unlock opportunities for innovation, paving the way for products that resonate deeply with users. Alongside Elizabeth Wilson (Boston Scientific) and Darren Wilson (Department of Veterans Affairs), I will be presenting on how companies can seamlessly integrate human factors into their organization and processes at this year’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) 2024 Symposium in Chicago. Come chat with us at the Symposium on Monday, March 25, 4:45 PM – 6:15 PM CDT.    

If you prefer to find a virtual time to chat, reach out! We’d love to hear from you.