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How do UX work in Scrum teams?

I recently partook in a discussion on the ‘Scrum Practitioners’ group on LinkedIn. Unfortunately this group is ‘Members Only’, but I thought I would share the response with you.

A lady by the name of Josie asked the following question:

About to start up a new project and we have a dedicated UX person on the team. In a waterfall model the UX person would have a lot of involvement in the design before development starts. How does this work with Scrum given that the entire team should be involved in the design?

Here was my response:

We’re a mobile dev company that have UX at its heart, but traditionally run projects in waterfall due to this very issue, so I was pleased to see that we weren’t the only one.

We wanted to introduce agile to one of our own products (not client related). Having recently taken the Scrum Product Owner course, I brought this up during the course, got some sound advice and then implemented the following:

Operationally, a dedicated UX plays 3 major roles in the product team:

1. Readiness (before the sprint) 
~ Readiness for the next sprint, working with the PO to define interactions, wireframes & any workshops / research that needs to be done to validate their advice. They refine the acceptance criteria (to ensure top-notch UX!) & ensure that the highest priority backlog items are ready to be designed & built for the next sprint.

At the beginning of the project, it is natural for the UX staffer to want/need to produce more documentation than is needed for the first sprint, to bring context to the main feature set that will be factored into the first sprint, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it can be refined over the coming sprints.

2. Working with the Team (during sprint) 
~ Being a part of the daily development team & providing guidance to the implementation of their interaction specifications & wireframes to designers & developers.

3. Validating the product / features (after sprint) 
~ Finally UX will want to test the initial feature set with users. Feedback & advice from this testing will then be fed back to the Product Owner, who will prioritise these changes into the existing backlog.

What do you think is the optimal method for factoring in UX designers into product development?

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