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Bridging the Gap Between PM and
Dev with a Hybrid UX/BA Role
By Leon Barnard
Balsamiq Studios - @balsamiqLeon
Do you have these problems?
1. PMs who don’t have the time or interest to
specify design or technical details in the
stories they write
2. Designers who deliver pie-in-the-sky designs
that can’t be built in the timeframe allotted
3. Products that don’t match PM expectations
or customer needs
Poll
How many of you are Product Managers?
How many work in Agile environments?
How many write stories as part of their job?
Any Designers? Developers?
A story, not a prescription
This talk is really just a story - a success story.
I’m not enough of an expert to tell you what
you should be doing differently.
On with the story
I was a hybrid UX/BA - managed by UX director,
functional role was Business Analyst
The company:
● ~100 employees, offices in WI and WA
● Web-based healthcare product, niche
market(s)
● Had recently fully embraced Agile, top to
bottom
The assembly line
PM UX Dev QA
User
Researcher BA (me)
Kanban / Pull system
PM UX Dev QA
No pushing allowed!
“War room” setup
PM UX Dev QA
All in one room, all the time. Not quite The
Real World, but close.
PM did not write stories
PM wrote epics, defined the problems to solve
UX wrote the stories, defined the solutions
PM = what; UX = how
Examples of my stories
To make a long story short...
Something about this combination just worked.
What worked well
Since I was the story writer, I had to think
about how to build it when I was designing.
This meant I couldn’t go crazy with my
designs.
I learned what information developers needed
in a story, which meant that I could focus
more on what they needed and less on what
they didn’t.
What worked well, cont’d
Since PM wasn’t writing the stories, they could
focus on the big picture and not worry about
the implementation details.
Using mockups extensively put everyone on
the same page throughout the process. No
surprises when the code was done.
What worked well, cont’d
Dev always had someone they could go to with
questions. And someone they could negotiate
with about the design and the details.
More clarity, more accountability. UX knew
what PM wanted, Dev knew what UX wanted,
etc. Much harder to point fingers.
What didn’t work well
PM wanted more control, felt they were held
in check by the “rules”.
Not all UX designers embraced the role. Some
wanted to focus more on building great
designs than hashing out implementation
details.
Other usual stuff
Closing thoughts
A lot of my story was independent of my role
as a hybrid UX/BA (the war room, embracing
kanban model, etc.), which is why I’m
reluctant to prescribe anything.
Building trust and earning respect was key.
Responsibility leads to pride.
Just one piece of advice...
Advice on hiring a hybrid UX/BA
There are many kinds of UX designers out
there. But most UX jobs are looking for one
kind (ninjas, rockstars, etc.).
This is because most employers don’t really
understand UX, so they focus on what it looks
like, which, in turn, forces designers to be
more visual in their portfolios.
Look for the other kinds
Look for the ones who can tell a good story
about their designs. UX designers can be the
ones to shepherd the design from idea to
execution.
Look for that in a prospective designer. Judge
them not only on the quality of their designs,
but their ability to get them built.
Thanks!
Jacob Dixon, the one who hired me and had
the vision and guts to put UX in the BA role.
The great team I worked on, who made my
story a success story.
Balsamiq, for giving me a role where sharing
my experiences is part of my job.
My UX blog posts
Using Mockups in your Agile User Stories
http://blogs.balsamiq.com/ux/2013/02/06/using-mockups-in-y
our-agile-user-stories/
Tales from a UX Guerrilla
http://blogs.balsamiq.com/ux/2013/06/03/tales-from-a-ux-gu
erilla/
The User Experience Gap
http://blogs.balsamiq.com/ux/2013/09/17/the-user-experienc
e-gap/
What do you have to say?
Conversation starters
What can be done about the adversarial roles
across PM/Design/Dev?
Is hybridization the solution, or do we need
more distinct roles in between?
Tell me your success stories or tips & tricks.
Recommended reading
The UX Professionals’ Guide to Working with
Agile Scrum Teams
How to ship good design
This 3-part series: How to Work with Designers,
PMs, Engineers
Jeff Gothelf on Lean UX
ProductCamp SF 2013 Sponsors

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Bridging the Gap Between PM and Dev with a Hybrid UX/BA Role

  • 1. Bridging the Gap Between PM and Dev with a Hybrid UX/BA Role By Leon Barnard Balsamiq Studios - @balsamiqLeon
  • 2. Do you have these problems? 1. PMs who don’t have the time or interest to specify design or technical details in the stories they write 2. Designers who deliver pie-in-the-sky designs that can’t be built in the timeframe allotted 3. Products that don’t match PM expectations or customer needs
  • 3. Poll How many of you are Product Managers? How many work in Agile environments? How many write stories as part of their job? Any Designers? Developers?
  • 4. A story, not a prescription This talk is really just a story - a success story. I’m not enough of an expert to tell you what you should be doing differently.
  • 5. On with the story I was a hybrid UX/BA - managed by UX director, functional role was Business Analyst The company: ● ~100 employees, offices in WI and WA ● Web-based healthcare product, niche market(s) ● Had recently fully embraced Agile, top to bottom
  • 6. The assembly line PM UX Dev QA User Researcher BA (me)
  • 7. Kanban / Pull system PM UX Dev QA No pushing allowed!
  • 8. “War room” setup PM UX Dev QA All in one room, all the time. Not quite The Real World, but close.
  • 9. PM did not write stories PM wrote epics, defined the problems to solve UX wrote the stories, defined the solutions PM = what; UX = how
  • 10. Examples of my stories
  • 11. To make a long story short... Something about this combination just worked.
  • 12. What worked well Since I was the story writer, I had to think about how to build it when I was designing. This meant I couldn’t go crazy with my designs. I learned what information developers needed in a story, which meant that I could focus more on what they needed and less on what they didn’t.
  • 13. What worked well, cont’d Since PM wasn’t writing the stories, they could focus on the big picture and not worry about the implementation details. Using mockups extensively put everyone on the same page throughout the process. No surprises when the code was done.
  • 14. What worked well, cont’d Dev always had someone they could go to with questions. And someone they could negotiate with about the design and the details. More clarity, more accountability. UX knew what PM wanted, Dev knew what UX wanted, etc. Much harder to point fingers.
  • 15. What didn’t work well PM wanted more control, felt they were held in check by the “rules”. Not all UX designers embraced the role. Some wanted to focus more on building great designs than hashing out implementation details. Other usual stuff
  • 16. Closing thoughts A lot of my story was independent of my role as a hybrid UX/BA (the war room, embracing kanban model, etc.), which is why I’m reluctant to prescribe anything. Building trust and earning respect was key. Responsibility leads to pride.
  • 17. Just one piece of advice...
  • 18. Advice on hiring a hybrid UX/BA There are many kinds of UX designers out there. But most UX jobs are looking for one kind (ninjas, rockstars, etc.). This is because most employers don’t really understand UX, so they focus on what it looks like, which, in turn, forces designers to be more visual in their portfolios.
  • 19. Look for the other kinds Look for the ones who can tell a good story about their designs. UX designers can be the ones to shepherd the design from idea to execution. Look for that in a prospective designer. Judge them not only on the quality of their designs, but their ability to get them built.
  • 20. Thanks! Jacob Dixon, the one who hired me and had the vision and guts to put UX in the BA role. The great team I worked on, who made my story a success story. Balsamiq, for giving me a role where sharing my experiences is part of my job.
  • 21. My UX blog posts Using Mockups in your Agile User Stories http://blogs.balsamiq.com/ux/2013/02/06/using-mockups-in-y our-agile-user-stories/ Tales from a UX Guerrilla http://blogs.balsamiq.com/ux/2013/06/03/tales-from-a-ux-gu erilla/ The User Experience Gap http://blogs.balsamiq.com/ux/2013/09/17/the-user-experienc e-gap/
  • 22. What do you have to say?
  • 23. Conversation starters What can be done about the adversarial roles across PM/Design/Dev? Is hybridization the solution, or do we need more distinct roles in between? Tell me your success stories or tips & tricks.
  • 24. Recommended reading The UX Professionals’ Guide to Working with Agile Scrum Teams How to ship good design This 3-part series: How to Work with Designers, PMs, Engineers Jeff Gothelf on Lean UX