During my last year at VW, I had the privilege of being an integral part of a highly efficient and cohesive Scrum team. Our collaborative efforts were focused on a pivotal SaaS project known as "One Business ID," the details of which are available in the portfolio linked HERE. The experience of functioning within such a well-orchestrated Scrum team consisting of four different organisations, led to the following insights and reflections.
In essence, Scrum is an agile framework tailored to foster collaboration and break tasks into manageable chunks called sprints. It facilitates adaptability and iterative progress. Especially beneficial when coordinating among multiple organisations like it was in our case.
Our Meeting Schedule:
Working in Sprints:
Sprints are pre-defined periods where specific tasks are set and completed.
Differences for UX and Developers:
The UX/Product team consistently operates one sprint ahead of the developers – a practice that might align with textbook SCRUM methodologies. However, in our unique scenario, the product team worked a full Product Increment (PI) ahead. This strategic approach afforded us ample time for design construction and testing. Moreover, it allowed us to seek input from developers at an early stage, resulting in smoother transitions when we passed on the designs. In most cases, this proactive approach minimised the need for design changes once handed over to developers.
Our favourite SCRUM component. Despite being a remote team spread across Germany and Portugal, this was the only time we all gathered. The week was divided into four days, and everyone eagerly awaited the evening get-togethers. Here's a quick peek into our PI planning.
The key elements of a Program Increment include:
SCRUM isn't a magical solution for flawless project execution. If team members lack alignment or communication breaks down, issues arise. A clear instance of this unfolded when I joined the project. Despite the previous UX designer's three months of work, underlying dissatisfaction led to his departure due to communication and respect issues. This experience highlighted that developers rely on us for timely answers. Delays of weeks disrupt their progress, causing frustration and rework. I committed to resolving this by initiating 1:1 calls with developers, fostering trust and responsiveness. This approach continued with quarterly sessions to address any concerns. In SCRUM, strong relationships are vital for success.
The UX Design Process:
Proactively, we didn't wait for instructions; we actively sought ways to enhance the designs. While suggesting improvements, we were mindful of developers' workload, preventing overload. During less intense periods, we revisited previous features, offering recommendations. These ideas entered the backlog, waiting for implementation when the team's capacity allowed.
The backlog is a prioritised list of features, bug fixes, and other tasks to be tackled. It's continuously updated based on product needs, customer feedback, and team input.
Why Documentation Matters:
Documenting, my friends, can truly be a game-changer. It saves you from hours of guesswork and prevents unnecessary arguments. Our approach to documenting meetings and decisions went beyond mere formality. It became a treasure trove for upcoming designers and team members. Whenever doubts surfaced or the need to track back arose, our documented records came to the rescue. We utilised Confluence's Kanban board for documentation, linking the right tickets and providing an accessible overview for all. Yet, the choice of a Kanban board can depend on your team's preference.
Let's delve into an illustrative example of how we enhanced our product. Our improvement journey followed a consistent path: we would develop a feature, subject it to testing, and subsequently incorporate feedback for refinement. In the subsequent Product Increment (PI), we'd address the identified issues. While we were fortunate to encounter relatively few of these instances, one notable example revolved around customer deletion.
The deletion of the customer:
At the onset of the year, we crafted the initial screen. Following its publication and subsequent test analysis in the second PI, an update to the deletion process became necessary. As depicted, the initial flow consisted of two steps, each accompanied by separate pop-ups. This configuration posed a potential vulnerability wherein account deletion could be achieved with swift consecutive clicks.
Firstly, effective communication within the team is paramount; without it, roadblocks emerge, and dissatisfaction ensues. Designers must adopt a proactive stance, questioning design decisions to enhance the product. Documentation proves indispensable for the design team, sparing hours in the long run and curbing confusion for new team members.
Moreover, I discovered that SCRUM isn't an inflexible blueprint; while some adaptations are necessary to suit specific needs, it serves as a solid foundation. SCRUM is an exceptionally well-suited approach for collaborative work in a multi-organizational product team.