UX (User Experience) and Scrum Training – Roman Pilcher

This course was on offer from Learning Connexions and was addressing the issue of where the user experience of a project fits into an agile deliver project.

Roman started the training by getting us to split into areas depending on role, then splitting up on agile experience. He then highlighting that there would be no slides but that we would create the agenda with the topics we wanted to cover, grouping these into categories and prioritising them on a backlog.

Things to think about
When designing a product you need to think about:
The functionality, interactions, NFRs and User Interaction Design.
For Functionality: User stories and epics, Use cases,
Interactions: Scenarios, story maps (Jeff Paton), interaction/workflow diagrams
NFRs: constraint stories
UI Design: Prototype, wire frames, mock ups, storyboards, UI sketches

Companies have moved to an agile way of delivering, when you look up agile in the dictionary it means to move quickly and easily and people hope by optimising the process software delivery can be a painless process, where the product is fully utilised.

Scrum is just one of the agile methodologies that can be used. It is a cyclical, iterative process, that is incremental, which facilitates experimentation and learning.
It allows the use the empirical evidence, providing data to question intuition.
From the idea a product backlog is created by the product owner. The PO work with the   product team to set sprint goals and create a product increment. This increment gets feedback from the stakeholders who may be users and customers. The feedback cycle should be less than four weeks to ensure that the team is  building the right thing, right. The output from the feedback is taken and analysed to add or update backlog, which is re-prioritised.

User vs ProductThere is the problem space which the user can help explain more information:
Who has the problem?
Why is it a problem?
What is the problem?

And there is the solution space which is the product being designed
Solution space
Visual/UI design
Non functionals

If there are assumptions these can be validated with a Minimal Viable Product, which is a throwaway piece of work that can answer questions.
IdeaPersonas can be used to help with the design of the product

Is there a real problem present and do we need to address it?
You can get the users to do a diary study, get them to visit the website and write about the experience or do a home visits and watch the people use the site.
Depending on what you are designing a competition to get the users to design the site.
You can start with provisional personas which are initial personas to get you started

Persona elements – This makes the product user centric
It should include:
Background/job line
One sentence summary about person
Relevant details – attitudes, behaviours, interests
Goal – problem pain, benefit, goal – one main goal.
What is the real reason people are using your product?
Involve team in user research – creating personas with team
Visualise personas
Share clips and recordings
Write customer and user personas, maybe effected persona (If you were selling an X-ray machine you would have the purchaser, technician and the patient for X-ray machine)
It is important to chose a primary persona – who are you building the product for, this gives you a focus and priority. This allows the creation of a specific minimal marketable feature.

Before you do the persona it is important to create a product vision board with the stakeholders (marketing, sales, etc…)
VisionVision – the motivation, purpose behind product, what positive change would it create
Target group – customers, users (market)
Needs – problem, benefit (what and why)
Product – what is it, unique, top 3 features (how)
Value – business goals and monetisation

Agile Delivery
Just enough, just in time research
Product StrategyWaterfall – linear process with big upfront research
waterfallNeed continuity and stability for this to work well

Minimum viable product – Eric Ries
MVPThis is a throw away prototype
MVP is a way to test an idea, cheap, fast and quick
Idea for an MVP puts something out for the users to review
MVP = release 0.1 of a minimal marketable product

It is an idea to  create a product canvas – name of the product, then the goal (benefit) and the metrics to know if the goal had been achieved.

Upfront UX work
UXThink about the key interactions – steps to satisfy the goal, story board, story mapping, wireframe
Key UI design ideas
Design principles language
Colours, shapes, layout
Influenced by brand and technology
Capture epics, list journeys under and the create a slice though
Global NFRs

Who is the target audience, what is the big picture (headlines sketch and drives project, holistic coarse grained) and then the product details (just enough for first sprint). The sprint goal needs to be identified alongside the risks and any uncertainty. The creation of the user stories drives the sprints.

Products have a natural lifecycle and unless they are continuously reviewed and improved.
IMG_3508During the course we had to choose a product and go through the process of creating the product vision and the canvas. It was a useful exercise and the course gives you different ideas and techniques that can be used in project work.


Becoming a Learning Organisation the Kanban Way with Karl Scotland

Kanban Canvas

The Agile Practitioners ran a session with Karl Scotland who was presenting his Kanban canvas. He started with a basic game to get everyone involved and to highlight a fundamental part of delivering projects. You start by putting your right arm up in the air and start drawing big circles in a clockwise direction and then slowly lower your are to chest height. Then Karl asked us what we noticed. Depending where you are looking depends on your perspective.

Part of the issue with delivering a project is that people try and come up with the solutions before really hearing and understanding the problem. Karl’s canvas is a way to break down a project and get people to focus on the what you are trying to solve.

The canvas starts with the System:
This is asking what is the problem, what are the boundaries of the system.
The team need to understand stakeholders problems and look for patterns to solve the problems. A technique that is used to get to the problem Karl called the Pixar pitch which goes:
Once upon a time…
One day…
Because of that…
Because of that…
Because of that…
Until finally (changes)
This helps you work out the issues and come up with a list of changes that are needed.

Patterns, structure and mental models are things that can be looked at in the system.

The delivery team needs to review the impacts to review how the project is going, how does the team know it’s working. There needs to be fitness criteria set at the beginning of the project so there is a common goal to work towards.

There are 3 things that need to be reviewed for the output, the flow, potential and value.


This is all about process, getting to the perfect process
It has to be quick, reliable and efficient
Is the system doing the thing right
What is the impossibly good ending?
What is the impossibly bad ending?
Where is the project and how can it be moved to the good ending?

A project can have good flow but no value!
This is about the product ensuring it is doing the right work and being effective
Again what is the impossibly good ending and what is the impossibly bad ending?

Is the project sustainable and what is the long term potential.
Doing the sustainable thing.
Passionate people working on this, flexibility and euphoria – no need to use the stick on the people!

Don’t jump into solutions – look at impacts first.
Then look at interventions.

The next points are about getting to the solution.

Understand present environment, studying where the project is.
Learn about the customer, learn about them. This could be achieved with empathy mapping.
Spend time with the customer and feel the pain!
Saying, seeing, thinking, doing
Come up with the following – X Needs a way to do Y Because Z
Classes of service- not all work is equal
Value/failure demand
Delays, decisions, feedback – where are the delays in the process so they can be removed.
How are decisions made?
Where are the feedback loops?
Value stream mapping is a way to analyse this.

Align people and get them working towards the same goal.
Create visualisation of the project and the direction for the team but be mindful of information overload.
Look at scope, time, cost, quality and priority.
What is the status, capability, demand, value and issues.
Visualise the risks, constraints, dependencies and assumptions.
What do you as a team want to share information?
How do you want to share the information?
Maybe colours for type of demand or inscription or placement to convey information.
Communication is key.

This is the intent behind WIP limit.
You don’t want to constrain a system too much but also no constrain will cause chaos.
Create policies – what does it mean to move into dev to test etc
Define definition of done/ exit policy – baseline for improvement
The process is stabilise the work and then improve.
E.g. WIP limits
E.g. Entry/exit policies, Definition of done/ready, Quality criteria

This is how good are we.
What is the systems capability?
Are we getting better or worse?
Outcomes – more productive better
Customer satisfaction, reliability, responsiveness – lead time, quality employee satisfaction – what do we measure. Finish work before we start
Metrics – defects
Behaviours – stop cutting corners
Trade offs- maybe slows work
Feedback cadences -release everyday?
Retrospectives – could be number of items to discuss

What are all changes that you could make?
What are the best ones?
Run small experiments to analyse this (MVP).
If we change x will improve y because
Measures to validate/invalidate
Ability to recover safely
Create a framework to experiment to get your ideal solution.

This canvas is a good way to break down a project and can be used to get the team on the same page. It also focusses the mind at looking at the problem rather than jumping straight to the solution. Let’s see how it goes!

If you want to find out more about this visit Karl’s website the user guide.