Candice Boucher
May 8, 20244 mins Read
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by: Candice Boucher

Consider yourself new to a team, you walk into the office not knowing anyone or the lay of the land, what could you do to change this dynamic?

One of the key things I ensure I engage with as I join a new team, is relationship building. Getting to know the team members, the way the team works and collaborates, their rules and styles of work, is something to really be cognizant of if you are to succeed in that environment.

As a designer, the best place to start getting your hands dirty is by meeting your Product Owner and Business Stakeholders.

Why?

The purpose is to:

1.     Gather business requirements:

Find out what the key features of the product are. In this way you will then have an idea of how much work the project entails as well as being able to identify equivalent products or services which will kick off your research phase to the project. Ask questions around the technological landscape and understand some of the constraints you may be faced with around how you design the product or service. Find out the delivery dates that have been committed for the project and how many epics and sprints the business estimates in delivering the full scope of work.

2.     Understand the projects reason for being:

Question the business and product owner on the business case and how the project came to be. Was it a customer-initiated request, or a business identified risk that needed to be mitigated? Is it a new product or service aimed at innovating and differentiating in the market?

3.     Understand the key success measures:

Ask the team what success looks like once the product is live in the market. Is it around increased sales, increased adoption, referrals, improved turnaround times or aimed at operational efficiencies.

4.     Understand the current team challenges:

Find out if the team is working in an ‘Agile’ or ‘Waterfall’ environment, how does the business feed requirements and what is the current style to problem solving for the solution. Give insight into how ‘Design Thinking’ provides tools to solve requirements as a team in ‘co-create’ sessions.

5.     Gather information around the customer base/target market.

Often there is a database of customer information, whether from marketing or held within the team that is delivering. Your aim is to ask them who uses this product or service and what do we know about them. This will help you recruit for your customer interviews and thereafter to mockup personas to showcase to the team the users they are building for.

6.     Expose them to design thinking and explain your process and showcase the value you can add:

Take the product owner, stakeholders and the entire team through a light ‘Design Thinking’ presentation to showcase the methodology and tools used along the way, from requirement to product in the hands of the customer. I often find that when we do this, that teams do not realise the number of steps taken to reach a wireframe design which they believe is the designer’s role. This foregoes research and conceptual designs, which plagues designers’ minds for an unnecessary amount of time, before they can reach sketching out the wireframes.

7.     Build relationships, trust, and rapport:

Through having this session with the product owner and stakeholders you show them that you are open to learning, understanding and valuing the project and the money that has been put behind it to make it successful. By listening to their feedback, they feel heard and validated and often re-energised around their vision and that energy flows back into the team. By taking them through your process in a way that shows how it integrates into their current way of work will also help you gain their interest and buy-in and they will support you in the various activities you need to conduct in order to build an amazing user experience.

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Candice Boucher