Megan Miller

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Strategy for Document Storage and Collaboration Services

November 2015 – February 2016

Context and Problem

In November, 2015, I was appointed part of a task force charged with making a recommendation for the future of central University IT's support of document storage and collaboration services at Stanford. At the time, we were currently supporting both Google Drive and Box, and had just launched Microsoft OneDrive. Because of the diversity of offerings, and the lack of clear communication from our organization about these offerings, our clients—students, faculty, and staff—around the university were confused as to what service they should use, how to use the services to best meet their needs, and what kind of support they would get.

We had a good amount of analytics data on usage for each service, but discovered that our organization had very little understanding of how people actually used the tools, what features they found most valuable, and what their perceptions were of our services.


I proposed conducting a light-weight contextual inquiry study to add a qualitative data dimension, and help the task force team (mainly comprised of senior leadership) empathize with and understand our clients' experiences. I had a four-week window in which to organize, run, synthesize, and present my findings to the task force. Because of our needs to have more general understanding of how people were using our services, and the timeframe I was working on, I decided to conduct a series of 1-hour interviews with staff from a diverse set of organziations around the university, staff who had deep knowledge into how their teams use document storage and collaboration services.

My process is outlined in detail here on Medium, but here is the high-level breakdown:


Coded findings from the study.

Card sorting

Card sorting to find themes.


Themes found in card sorting.


The outcomes of the research were identifying key pain points, most valued functionality, service perception, emerging personas, and emerging use cases. As this research was very preliminary, my hope is that it can lay the groundwork for further research to support collaboration across campus.

The task force used the findings report I created to inform their strategic decision, and chose to recommend Google Drive as the primary service for collaborative document sharing. Other indirect outcomes from this research include:

Select highlights from the findings report

Pain points

Key functionality

Service perception


Use cases

My Role

I designed, organized, ran, and synthesized the research study, and collaborated with the task force leader to integrate findings into the strategic decision-making process. I had four volunteers who participated in the interviewing process.