In many projects, one of the major sources of issues and delays has little to do with the technology or scope. It is simply the process the team follows to create the software product. Macadamian recommends an agile methodology based on scrum that integrates user experience research, user experience design, and multi-site software development following two to three week sprints. We often give day-long workshops, training, or coaching to clients on how this can work best. It is not an easy topic and does require experience.
Two other key process-related lessons we’ve learned are:
- Use a Requirements Repository
- Design & Build for the First Customer
Requirements Repository & Communications
Requirements should be documented in a central repository. Ideally, one should use a task tracking system like Atlasssian JIRA that everyone has access to instead of multiple places that may cause conflict and confusion. JIRA is recommended because it is easy to update and is easily shared by developers and product owners. This is counter to how some traditional organizations still run with formal FDDs and a separate UX design team that maintains its own wireframes and visual design assets.
Ensure that a product owner or technical product manager with authority has been assigned as a prime. This role is invaluable for many things such as:
- Setting sprint priorities.
- Managing the inevitable backlog of change requests, internal stakeholder opinions, customer special requests, etc., which happen over the course of the initial project.
The biggest area for process improvement is improving the lines of communication between the UI and server teams. It helps if the UI team has visibility on the work being done in order to identify gaps and upcoming needs. One way to achieve this is by having a UI team member sit in on the server team’s daily scrum and vice versa. Make sure to assign a team member that is not either of the team leads as they have enough on their plates to contend with.
Design & Build for the First Customer
In most cases, despite having a lead customer, most companies are striving to create a product that has the widest appeal. The general strategy recommend is to undertake the UX research, usability testing, and the design based on the lead customer’s requirements to ensure the success of the initial product release. The issue with taking a generalist or generic approach is that it distances the product from real-world users. This approach is more likely to produce designs that no one wants to use. The same applies to the development team. Ensure that the lead customer and their requirements are clear in addition to working from reusable modular pieces that can be easily customized.
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