The Agile Temptation

     

- Have you ever heard the phrase:  “I thought Agile meant that we could quickly respond to requests.” ? Then this blog is for you!

"Your competitor probably introduced some new great features yesterday. Your sales rep in Belgium has already created internal discussions. You need to develop these features ASAP to stay in the Belgian market. It is easy to give in to temptation and add those new features. However, tomorrow the sales rep from Brazil will call demanding yet another function due to local competition…

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And they all say “I thought Agile meant that we could quickly respond to requests.”

Too often we meet companies that are just responding to customers, markets and competition under the name of AGILE. If that is driving the agile development – there is a big risk that the User Experience will be lost. Only 14% of all software functions are being used by an average user. The other 86% of the functions are destroying the UX. With every new function you add - the UX is challenged.

In our research and after numerous discussion with product managers, researchers, designers and customers we claim three core methods for Product Managers to enhance great UX in agile environments.

1. Persona creation
2. Product Identity
3. It is not about the product


SHOW ME THE MONEY

In a sales process it is easy to get stuck in discussing Price/Performance. But how do we make UX valuable and how do we make the customer pay for it?

Together with Ericsson, Logica and University of Blekinge we are performing research on values. It has been found that most consumers and companies value the UX as such. Companies and individuals are willing to pay for the User Experiences. And we all know that Apple has built the complete company on the UX.

For B2B (business to business) the drivers might be somewhat different compared with B2C (business to consumer). Three money motivators have been identified by Virpi Roto (Professor Aalto University) why B2B companies work with UX:

• Developing the service business demands better UX
• Better recruitment possibilities – Great UX of your products makes it easier to recruit
• Increased loyalty and better references


THE SUCCESSFUL PRODUCT MANAGER

We work every day with product managers and they ask us how they can improve their work with UX design. We have identified three core behaviors among the successful Product Managers that create great UX with Agile:

Secret #1
PERSONAS – GETTING RID OF THE OPINIONATED ORGANIZATION

The UX design process shall not be based on the opinions, feelings and assumptions. We need a way to get into the shoes of the users. Defining and using Personas is a great way to achieve this. A Persona is archetype of your customer. By defining 3-7 Personas you are able to deal with your opinionated organization. When somebody express an opinion or assumption it is easy to refer to the Personas. They will become principals for your development and design. And you will start designing the experience for your users and not for your organization.

The Personas are a Strategic Asset. The owner of the Personas should neither be the UX designer nor the marketing department. The owner should be the Product Management group. As a Product Manager you need to align all activities and use the same personas in numerous activities. You are also responsible for securing that the Personas represent your target markets.

Secret #2
PRODUCT IDENTITY

The UX feeling is not given. Everything is not about joy, pride and intuition. When talking to designers of cranes or control systems for energy plants “Joy” might not be on the list. We have worked with companies and projects where other identities have been in focus. Examples of intended user experiences can be:

• “Safety of Operation” – Process systems (SCADA)
• “Sense of control” – Fork trucks
• “Feeling of Presence” – Medical system
• “Ease of cooperation” – Cranes

You need to define your product identity to connect the UX with. It is not enough just to say we focus on UX. You need an identity a direction of what experience you want to bring to your customers and users. This is also what you test during the development. How well are you fulfilling the desired UX?

We normally perform Product Identity workshops to define the three (3) major experiences we want to give to the users.

Secret #3
THE PRODUCT UX IS NOT ABOUT THE PRODUCT

Too many companies mix up UI and UX. The User Interface (UI) is the interface of your system. The UX includes the interface AND the service, support, deliveries, etc. from your company. As a Product Manager you should make sure that all the different deliverables are working together in creating the intended UX. The UI is just one piece in the puzzle. Put yourself in the shoes of the customer and go through their customer journey. What interactions do they have with you? What experience are you giving your customers in these interactions?

It has been proven numerous times that a great UX will generate increased profits. Researchers have also shown a strong connection between stock prices and great UX.

We have interviewed researchers, product managers, management, developers about Agile and Product Management. Watch the video for a interview with Pariya Kashfi on Agile Product Management and UX or download the whitepaper for the full article.

Download Whitepaper

About The Author

Magnus's profession is to turn technology into selling products. He has worked with product management for more than 20 years with electronics, software, services and hardware and is a thought leader within high performance Product Management.