JOB TASK ANALYSIS
I was on a team creating a Job Task Analysis for the FAA's implementation of NextGen technology in their En Route Air Traffic Control system.

This was a massive project, where all aspects of the Air Traffic Controller's job were analyzed, to aid future development of new technologies.

The team was composed of the FAA Program Manager, who was the primary stakeholder, three human factors engineers and one air traffic control subject matter expert.
OVERVIEW/CHALLENGES
The primary challenge for this project was its sheer size. It's a task analysis, which is usually a rapid means to an end, however, the end product this time was the task analysis itself. The final printed product was 724 pages of task analysis in two volumes, as well as a website. Apparently there is quite a lot to the job of an Air Traffic Controller!

The good news is that our browser-based job task analysis won us a nomination for the Stanley Caplan User-Centered Product Design Award.

STEP 1: FIND MY NICHE

I was a late addition to the project, which already had two human factors engineers, including someone widely considered to by the Grande Dame of aviation human factors - Betty Murphy. I can attest to the veracity of her reputation!

What the team didn't have was anyone focusing on the usability of the task analysis - kind of a meta-UX designer. All the task elements and external sources of information interact conceptually in a non-linear web. This complex system of situation awareness and external inputs to a range of cognitive processes is inherently non-linear. Therefore, a 724-page printed document is not the ideal product to communicate the information to the engineers and designers who will be using this task analysis in their designs of the NextGen air traffic control systems.
Browser-Based Job Task Analysis
STEP 2: CODE AND DISPLAY CONTEXT
This task analysis was made complex not only because of the inter-relatedness of the various task components, but by the number of levels of analysis, the sources of information and the different technologies used in each task element.
The Task Analysis snippet seen here shows how much related information needed to be communicated on each screen of the interface.
A superficial heuristic analysis would say there's too much information; it's difficult to process. But that would be ignoring the needs of the customer. The engineers and designers who are using this tool all need this related information to be visible, as the technological, information and behavior contexts are the main point of this task analysis. Anything leaner and more sparse, as is prevalent in contemporary design, would reduce the usefulness of this tool for the people whose needs it was designed to meet.
Annotated Task Analysis
STEP 3: LOTS AND LOTS OF TEDIOUS WORK
  • Task analysis content was originally entered into Excel spreadsheets
  • Task element diagrams were made in Visio
  • Popup "information requirements" functionality was added in Dreamweaver
  • Site was put together in Rapidweaver
In addition to creating the browser-based system, I also managed the review process to ensure faithful replication of all content in both the published books and on the website.
EN ROUTE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL
MID-TERM JOB TASK ANALYSIS
Elizabeth D. Murphy
Harold A. Albert
Jennifer M. Chen
Gregory G. Anderson
Udo W. Schultheis