Since I took up a new stride with a management consulting organization as a Product Owner, I have been thinking more on lines of what more can be done apart from conventional business as usual Agile practices such as managing backlogs, stakeholder expectations, ensuring user acceptance of the end product. How do I scale this role ahead give my experience and training in UX?
Well, I started looking at overlaps and found three key aspects which could translate the process to have more synergy with User Centered Design and also preserve the flavors of Agile:
A/ Collaborative product design nurturing on the aspects of participatory design which encourages stakeholder participation in an active format all through the development cycle. The joint process of incubating new product features with the sponsors/ stakeholders helps the team be in synch at all given times with – the business vision agreed upon, the end user personas of the end the benefit of release.
B/ Design and release early which very well resonates with the Agile sprints resulting in a working and releaseable slice of functionality at the end of defined periods of time. If we look at extending the rapid prototyping ahead by inclusion of “code” in it to help make a deployable product with each release and not just stop at having design validation prototypes in place.
C/ Exposing increments to users is a tendency of UCD, in Agile thought this helps in early validation of product functionality with pilot actual users each time before we go-to-market. This process should break the norms of conventional (waterfall methods) development to ensure users get to see, feel, voice feedback before the next layer of functionality is weaved to the product. This needs to be parallel thread process running with the development at all times.
These simple principles of overlap can help ensure UCD principles are tightly coupled into the Agile process stream to have more user friendly products at the end of the day. This is helpful in several respects as both a UX & PO role stay domain agnostic for most part of the development, this way they can focus more on getting the right product out to the market on time with each incremental sprint.