How Project Stakeholders Can Make or Break Your UX How can project stakeholders empower a solution design team to do its best work? We break down the communication patterns and practices to copy. Emily Genco MentorMate Alumni When asked about the most challenging aspects of large enterprise UX/UI projects, many designers don’t mention the complexities of the interactions or the difficulty integrating a new system with legacy offerings. Instead, they highlight the finesse and experience required to coordinate stakeholders, source feedback or uncover the right information during discovery. Whether you’re working with an internal team, or an external provider, how can you empower your design team with the intelligence and support they need to do top quality work? Tips to Set Up Your UX Team for Success What should teams know and plan for ahead of time to smooth the turbulence common in large design initiatives? Provide Your UX Team Proactive Advocates Choose Leaders Who Can Propel Project Momentum Identifying project advocates from among the project stakeholders early is critical to the success of design efforts. Encourage them to support the design team in every aspect of the process starting with discovery. Share with them the importance of bridging the communication gap between the project team and the rest of the organization. Ask these advocates to be as invested in the work as the designers themselves. The UX team will have questions as they learn about the existing users or workflows and how the new solution may impact them. Highlight also each leader’s area of expertise for the design team and how that impacts their ability to inform the shape of the solution. Choose Advocates with Deep Institutional Knowledge Your advocates are on-point to provide answers to questions raised by the design team. Select with care. Maybe the advocate remembers a focus group completed four years ago and existing teams with access to the primary data? Or maybe she will be able to share legacy documents with the design team for rapid context gathering? Look for individuals who see to walk side-by-side with your project team and create the connections they need between past efforts and present goals. Involve Stakeholders in Discovery Source Representative Users for the Design Team Gaining a complete picture of the primary audience is the first step to determine an approach to solve a business problem with UX. When ideating to define the problem, no one knows more about empathizing with the existing audience than current users. Mobilize your leaders to work with the design/project team and provide them access to users or representative users. (If you are building a line-of-business solution, these representative users may be sourced from among the project stakeholders themselves.) UX Discovery Strategies to Use Today What should teams know and plan for ahead of time to smooth the turbulence common in large design initiatives? Complete user research to learn more about the departments the UX team will need to conference with during the construction of the solution. Consider meeting with the following groups during discovery: Users Representative users Stakeholders Collaboratively Set a Schedule for Intelligence-Gathering Work with the key project stakeholders to agree on a timeframe for discovery. The number of existing assets shared with the design team can impact the time needed to synthesize. Encourage these two groups to meet regularly throughout the process. Use working sessions to clarify interdependencies between departments. This context will better help the design team reach out to the right project stakeholders in the right sequence during feedback gathering. Consider Continuing Discovery and Research as Development Begins On smaller projects, the breadth and complexity of the problem the design team is solving can often be rapidly understood and mapped in one or two four-hour ideation sessions. Designing and developing for the enterprise presents more complexity — even on projects of a smaller scale. Overlap grows between departments. The project may evolve as budget opens or becomes constrained. Additional integrations with legacy software may need to be added as workflows between new and existing solutions are further defined. Continued discovery sessions can help your team learn and vet assumptions as new problems are presented and solved. Foster a Culture of Transparency During Project Team Onboarding Agree on Communication/Meeting Norms and Frequency Meet to establish openness between the business and the design team right away. How often can your design team expect to meet or receive feedback from leaders? What communication channels do project stakeholders prefer: Email, Slack, Skype or something else? Is there an open-door policy or are meetings preferred? Describe the Organizational Culture Any insight project stakeholders can provide about company-wide practices will help the design team assimilate and gather feedback quickly without missing important communications or setting habits that can be hard to break later in the process. Support Participatory Design Structure Working Meetings with Stakeholders During Each Major Project Phase Our teams have found success collaborating with project advocates to chart workflows and map solution interdependencies throughout the design process. Use this time to explore hypotheses and validate assumptions before moving forward or presenting to larger groups within the enterprise. Complete Guide to Collaborative Design What should teams know and plan for ahead of time to smooth the turbulence common in large design initiatives? By scheduling weekly or bi-weekly meetings with project advocates or project stakeholders, feedback can be captured quickly and iteratively. Who should you include in working sessions: SME/stakeholder Product owner/business analyst UX/UI designer Engage in a Dialogue with Your Design Team Small group sessions are the perfect time to present challenges to design decisions. They are also the meetings where your UX team will ask you questions to explore the needs and patterns future functionality with require. These sessions are a time of intense dialogue and collaboration. Come ready to ask and answer some of the following questions: Does this interaction make sense here? What happens when a user has a bad day and diverts from expected “happy paths”? What are common misunderstandings the user may have accessing this? What if the user selected path B rather than A? How could it be better if X was changed…? What does an edge case look like? Support Your Designers Whether in a small group session or in a larger team review, come prepared to share and help them focus the UX to best serve business needs. Identify projects advocates, share legacy knowledge and structure participatory sessions early on to speed the creation and quality of your solution. Image Source: MentorMate Tags Product DesignDesign StrategyDesign Share Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Share Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Sign up for our monthly newsletter. Sign up for our monthly newsletter.