Feedback from people who use systems managed by Human Resources Information Technology is an important part of how we design our software. Whether we are using "off-the-shelf" software, or writing applications from scratch, we seek out employees who match the profile of typical users of the product and invite them to participate in our studies.

Our Research

User Experience ("Usability") Studies

Usability is the effectiveness and efficiency with which a person can navigate through a web-based product. Studies take a number of forms, but always involve interaction with a trained User Experience (UX) facilitator, and is under the direction of a UX Certified professional.

The HRIT Usability Team leverages a variety of tools in collecting feedback from users of EBS software, including:

  • Focus Groups
  • Individual Interviews
  • Lab Studies (individuals attempt tasks in a lab setting)
  • Field Studies (we go out to see how employees do certain tasks)
  • Card-Sorting (helps us understand how people mentally group their tasks)

Up to 100 people, including “power users,” occasional users, new employees, and even non-employees are invited to provide feedback each year. We invite testers from across all unions, as well as faculty, students, and off-campus employees. A diversity of people provides the best learning about how people perceive software, especially among new employees who would be experiencing MSU software for the first time.

Site Visits

For some projects, there is no better way to learn than to visit employees at their place of work and watch as they complete their day-to-day work. At the initiation of some projects, we schedule time with employees who manage certain information for their departments to see first hand the struggles and successes of the current process.

On-Line Exercises

Occasionally we test concepts or collect information with employees remotely using teleconferencing, surveys, or other tools.

Where can you see the impact of your colleagues’ feedback?

Courses for Employees @ MSU

Upgraded in November 2017, new employees, infrequent course attendees, and frequent course attendees provided feedback to make the replacement even more robust, yet easier to use, than its predecessor.

Careers @ MSU

This 2016-2017 project replaced the applicant tracking system used by MSU. Five rounds of studies improved the new position forms in the EBS Portal and the Careers @ MSU website.

Form Updates

As forms migrate out of older technologies into a newer format, the Usability team tries them out with employees and recommends adjustments based on peoples' experiences. Recent forms include: Retirement Form, Course Fee Courtesy, Remote Work Agreement, and various HR Forms using by Unit Administrators.

The Refreshed EBS Portal

A major driver for the refreshed EBS Portal was to improve its ease of use. Refreshing the EBS Portal involved the following numerous rounds of usability testing beginning fall 2014 through spring 2016.

Regular Software Updates

The software vendor of the EBS Portal and HR/Payroll System makes regular updates to their User Interface (UI), that is, the EBS Portal and/or the HR/Payroll links in the portal. When there is an impact on employees, the HRIT usability team looks for feedback from employees to guide the choice of UI options, as well as plan our communications to employees.

Performance Excellence website

The usability team was invited to step out of the realm of EBS and look at HR's Performance Excellence website. The goal was to help employees understand where they are in the three-step process and find the appropriate resources and forms.

Report Upgrades

A number of reports are being revamped and rolled out in 2018. The usability team will have researched, designed, and tested the reports before they are introduced to employees.

Payroll Form

Working with the Office of the Controller, the HRIT Usability team assisted in the development and testing of a new form launched in 2018, moving certain requests from paper to an online form.


Employees who experience a disability will find additional information on our accessibility website to help guide them. The goal of our accessibility work is to improve the software that is used by the largest number of employees. We also work with vendors of software on improvements to meet both federal and industry standards for accessible software. More information is available in HRIT's Accessibility Center.