MiServer Review

As a User Experience intern, I led a customer review of MiServer offered by University of Michigan IT Services (U-M ITS). MiServer is a virtual service environment managed by ITS. Through this service, customers can administer the operating system, and manage their softwares and applications. The aim of this review was to evaluate the current state of MiServer by getting customer feedback and understanding their needs, concerns and future expectations.

  • Client: MiServer Support team
  • Duration: June - August 2017 (9 weeks)
  • Team Size: Individual
  • Skills: Contextual Interviews, Affinity Diagram, Comparative Analysis

My Role

Since MiServer had started in 2012, there had been no formal review of this service. Hence it was important to know how the service is perceived by its customers. My role was to understand the customers and present them to the support staff.

Through my initial research I identified two types of stakeholders – MiServer customers and MiServer support staff. I approached this review as a UX Researcher, given the nature and scope of this project.

My manager and rest of the team weren’t familiar with UX methodology. As a result, it became my responsibility to educate them about my process and explain the value of doing each step. I asked for their inputs and suggestions, and what they hoped to get out of the process.

Initial Research

The first step of this project was to familiarize myself with MiServer. Before talking to the customers, I went through statistics giving me insight into the consumption of the service by different customer segments. I did a Comparative Analysis study of similar services provided by institutions comparable to University of Michigan. Tabulating these results helped me identify the competitive advantage of MiServer as well as opportunities to expand the service.

Contextual Interviews & Data Analysis

I conducted seven contextual interviews with MiServer customers (4 internal and 3 external to ITS). The aim of these interviews was to understand:

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Their feedback and comments were extremely useful to inform me about the problems with the service. To organize this data in a useful way, I created affinity diagrams with 4 levels of hierarchy. Visualizing the information proved to be very meaningful, both as a process and result.

Debrief with Team

I scheduled a meeting with the MiServer Support team to discuss the customer feedback. To create an impact on the team, I presented the data in the form of handwritten affinity notes, organized by themes that emerged from customer interviews.

The affinity diagrams became tools for an interactive discussion. The team could experience first-hand customer feedback about their service. They could easily identify things that were working well and areas for improvement in current service offerings of MiServer.

To make this data accessible, I organized the findings and summarized it into a report. With this information the team was able to classify the issues based on time and effort, prioritizing issues with high impact for customers and low cost of implementation for the team.


My approach to this project and the findings were well received by the team. I helped the team identify problems that were relatively easy to implement yet would have positive outcomes. Additionally, the data I collected served as an important source for the team to pinpoint problems at an organizational level and consider strategies to create long-term positive impact.

Reflections and Takeaways