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Scrum and design teams

People gathered together working on an agile plan

Scrum and design teams

What is the relationship between Scrum and pies? đŸ€” The result of this combination is better than we could imagine that’s why in this article we will talk about the importance of good management of development teams and their versatility when it comes to designers.

Scrum -in broad strokes- proposes a way of planning projects focused on the launch of a Minimum Viable Product accompanied by a philosophy of incremental and iterative improvement, this within the framework of agility presents many benefits such as obtaining results in less time, having a higher responsiveness and greater efficiency, to name a few.

There is also a distribution of roles where the development team has a leading role since they are in charge of generating value for the project and in this article we will focus on aspects directly related to the development team.

Overview of Scrum

“Playing soccer is very simple, but playing simple soccer is the most difficult thing there is” Johan Cruyff.

How does a phrase about soccer apply to Scrum? For our purposes and making an adaptation we can relate it to something like this; understanding Scrum is very easy, doing good Scrum is difficult. You could say that, like soccer, it is easy to understand the theory, but to master the practice requires dedication and effort in every task that is carried out.

It is important to understand Scrum as a tool or framework within which we have some freedom, this allows us to make its implementation more flexible depending on the real scenario of a company. In this way we have more control over the planning proposal for a new project.

A pillar for development teams is self-organization, since it gives them the necessary freedom to plan the work that needs to be done. It is also about implementing a mentality that understands failure as a learning process, since the human factor always brings with it the probability of making mistakes.

As Voltaire said in his quote “The perfect is the enemy of the good” referring to the fact that it is better to achieve a good result in a reasonable time than to seek perfection in an excessive time. This phrase should be constant during the development of any project since a late market launch could mean a significant delay in competitiveness issues.

“Slice of cake” teams

rebanada de pastel

The term slice of cake focuses on how value is delivered at the end of each sprint, let’s imagine that the cake is composed of a chocolate sponge cake, a layer of dulce de leche, a vanilla sponge cake and a layer of luster, now imagine that each layer represents the contribution of a different area of knowledge, in the case of the development of a product such as a living room set we could find, for example, that industrial designers, forestry engineers, cabinetmakers and textile designers participate and their contribution to the project corresponds to a layer of the cake respectively, we would see this relationship:

  • Industrial design = Chocolate cake
  • Forestry engineering = milk sweet cream
  • Cabinetmaker = Vanilla sponge cake
  • Textile design = Luster

The combined contribution will result in a slice of quality cake at the end of the sprint that can be consumed or presented to a customer, i.e., we have an incremental product that adds value to the project. In the opposite case, if only the textile design part is worked on, we will obtain only polish, which although it is true that it can mean an advance in the project, it is not an incremental product nor is it capable of delivering value to the project as such.

The slice of cake teams are characterized by the variety of professions or knowledge that their members represent, this favors the coordination of the work in stages where the understanding between different parts is fundamental for a good development of the project.

There are some recommendations for the conformation of these development teams, but it is important to adapt them according to the situation of each case.

The first aspect to mention is the conformation of multidisciplinary teams, because it enriches the innovation process and the different points of view from which the problems to be solved can be approached.

The next point to consider is the size of the team, the Scrum guide suggests maximum teams of approximately 9 people, however, it is a decision that depends on several factors such as the task to be completed or even the capacity of the company, but what is the perfect number?

Jeff Bezos mentions that for a meeting the number of attendees should be equal to the number of people who can eat two family pizzas, this thought comes from the fact that meetings with a large number of participants become unproductive and that in large teams similar happens, there are people who hide among the group so that the average contribution of value falls down, this is known as “social loafing”.

It is clear that the complexity of a team grows as its size increases and for agility purposes it would be ideal to reduce any friction that may influence the development of the project.

But, how do you combine the UX work with the development part?

The slice of cake teams are the ones we would like to conform in most projects for the benefits they present and the dynamics they allow, but sometimes they are not easy to coordinate, for example the situation of UX design, in most cases the previous stages of research and empathy serve as input for the development team either tangible in the screens to be developed, as a technical section to be considered or any information that nourishes the project.

But, how can a team made up of developers and designers exist without depending on each other? Well, the answer is not easy and there are several ways to address this situation, to begin with, we must understand that Scrum gives us the freedom to address the issue according to the context of our project or company so it is necessary to pause to propose a strategy that really adds value to the organization.

Sprint ahead

sprint ciclismo como parte de scrum

The asynchrony between UX design and development, putting the design a few sprints ahead so that the work can be coordinated with finished input, although it is true that it still makes much reference to the waterfall style, it is about overlapping phases and maintaining total communication between team members or between teams if there is a design team that provides input to several projects at the same time.

In this scheme, compared to Scrum, a drawback is that if a design team is dedicated to many projects it can become tedious to manage between teams and hinder the flow, and participation in ceremonies or reviews becomes complex. In case of smaller scale, despite the dependent characteristics, a smooth and constant work can be coordinated, making the delay between the parties practically undetectable. In addition, collaboration between team members could be active.

UX as an input

tablero equipo ux

One option that is often used is to incorporate the UX design as an input provided from the collection of information with stakeholders and keep the participation of designers as if they were one of them, but the main drawback is the participation within the project as it is not given actively and in early stages, in addition it would have to completely generate the design input to facilitate the development team, contrary to the previous option where you can constantly generate input.

Multipurpose team

equipo de trabajo scrum

A more holistic solution is to consider the UX as a best practice that can provide a higher quality product and not as a role or a person which would make the weight of UX falls on all team members, involving even in research and empathy stages developers accompanied by someone more skilled in the field, For example, if in navigation tests a programmer can see what is the behavior of a user when using a product, it can be more enlightening than seeing it from a log or summary.

This would of course involve training either programmers in UX issues or a designer in programming issues, which could result in a team that knows about many issues, but does not know much about one issue.

These are three possible solutions to the same problem, it is useless to ignore a theory if in practice you do not have the ability to understand the environment and provide an adequate adaptation.

Therefore, the important thing to understand is how different solutions can facilitate a strategy that helps us to better plan the route during a project and despite being so different can be considered within the framework of agility, the benefit of these ways of working is the versatility they provide to solve issues of order and organization.

If you are looking for more information, rely on Interfaz, a strategic partner that generates value with a full-stack technology services tailored to your needs.

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