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Agile Design Workflow

Kanban

Jira + Miro-based Kanban approach to account for design and derive insights to make the design process efficient majorly focusing on setting up the design process to fit the development pipeline and business needs. This is in context with one of Moonraft Innovation Lab’s fortune 500 clients that I handled as a UX Designer. I contributed to formalising the design process in their agile environment.

This project aims at

- Proposing a solution to account for design in an agile environment

- Establish a process to help business, Project managers and designers to retrospect design processes

- Helping designers articulate design inefficiencies due to external dependencies

Context

Design talent in the client company

  • Design operations were on a contract basis, and no established method to understand design efforts

  • One product one designer philosophy gave autonomy to the designer to have a custom design flow. Designers within the same umbrella of products had different ways design documentation

  • Isolation of design engagement at project kick-off due to limited design awareness

  • Product development tracking in an agile scrum model on Jira

Stakeholders of the design process

End Users

Developers

Managers

Business

Designer

Process of setting a process :p

Understanding design use cases

Stakeholder interview

​I reached out to multiple designers in the organization, different managers in the client company, all developers within the team, the business drivers and the end users who used the product. Design had a role to play for each one of them.

Designer

  • Force-fitting design in Scrum and task-independent deadline

  • Developer pushback

  • Blockers due to stakeholder response time & poor engagement

  • Work overload and pileup

Managers

  • Lack of transparency in design estimation

  • Lack of data to backup design estimations

  • Difficulty in gauging design effort to build roadmaps

Developers

  • Poor assets handoff

  • Non-feasible design sign-offs

  • Lack of design support during the development

End users​

  • No visibility of the progress

  • No follow-up after requirement gathering

  • Have to work with what has been developed

Synthesis

Classification of recurring Design tasks

Exploration: When a new feature is to be picked up from the roadmap, the manager assigns it to a designer for the Discovery and Framing Phase (1st diamond)

 

Wire-framing: While this is actually the UI designing phase, the client found it more intuitive to name it the ‘wire-framing’ stage.

 

Quality check: Once the Ui is developed on staging, the design came back to the Designer for final checks before users tested it and the feature went to production

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Workflow for above Design tasks

  1. Backlog: The manager articulates the design task

  2. Detailed ticket: The manager gives an overview to the designer

  3. Planning: Designer understands the request with preliminary user interviews and scopes the ticket

  4. In progress: The feature is designed

  5. Blocked: The ticket is parked here when blocked by external dependency(clarity, stakeholder unavailability, etc)

  6. In QA: The ticket is parked here when a stakeholder sign-off is needed

  7. Done: When the design task is satisfactorily done 

Workflow- Kanban(Jira)

Jira Board

  • Kanban Swimlane creation

  • Integration with Scrum development

  • Prerequisite for ticket creation-assignee, labels

  • Cumulative report

  • Control Chart

Swim Lanes

  • The projected lane pulls tickets from the common backlog

  • The planned lane is for the tickets that have been discussed and scope bound

  • In Progress lane holds tickets that are being worked upon

  • A blocked lane is used to park tickets that have been hit by roadblocks due to external dependency

  • In QA lane parks tickets that need reviews/sign-offs

  • All tickets completed as per discussed scope with sign-offs are pushed to 'Done'

Reports- Jira

Cumulative Charts

  • Helps understand the rate of creation of tickets indicating the amount of inflow of work

  • Records the time of a ticket in each swimlane giving insights into the progression of the ticket

  • Logs the total work done at the rate at which 

Implementation

  • Helps understand the rate of creation of tickets indicating the amount of inflow of work

  • Records the time of a ticket in each swimlane giving insights into the progression of the ticket

  • Logs the total work done at the rate at which 

Impact as seen

  • A steady increase in design contribution. Over 120 tickets were delivered within 6 months

  • Blocker time was reduced from over 12 days to less than a week.

  • The rate of tasks assigned to design increased.

  • Design QA of the staging environment took a steady time of 2 days on average.

Control Charts

  • Helps understand variation in the completion of a task in its progression or in a selected phase

  • Helps determine what changes bring more predictability to the ticket completion

  • Records the efficiency

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Implementation

  • Direct comparison with development and other team members that helps with healthy discussion for individual efficiency

  • Helps the exploratory process have a more predictable timeline

  • Helps analyse and distribute the tasks evenly across days to help achieve a better work-life balance and have reasonable expectations with respect to design tasks

Impact as seen

  • Efficiency- Design tickets took less than 10 days to complete as opposed to the legacy of 23 days.

  • Standard deviation reduced for planned design tasks in the roadmap

  • Design tasks were spread out over the week by queuing and prioritisation. This helped project realistic deadlines for designs and was completed close to estimations. 

  • Effective In Progress state of design tickets was approximately 3 days.

Workflow- Kanban(Miro)

Kanban Templates

  • An exhaustive list of design tasks (eg: feature development, discovery and framing, wire-framing, etc)

  • Micro tasks/Subtasks of the larger design ticket in Jira

Supporting task templates

  • Once a few iterative tasks are identified, templates for them are created to speed up the design process

  • Below is a Stakeholder ledger to track and document people involved/responsible for contributing to a design task

  • In yellow and blue, is a simplified service blueprint which was used as a delivery milestone for the discovery phases

Design task Journey

Stakeholder view of the flow of a design ticket

Below is a holistic view of the path of a design task. While not every task may follow this entire journey but every design task will follow a subset of this based on the nature of the task, urgency and the context of the requirement.

This flow has been tried and tested. Every stakeholder gets to view the necessary part that concerns them conveniently. Other statuses are available on request.

Status quo change

Jira Kanban board

  • Swim lanes in Jira give communicate progress to all stakeholders.

  • Cumulative charts will help designers to put a strong case for work overload, inefficiencies and external blockers

  • Control charts help the PM to the better estimate design effort.

Miro Kanban board

  • Swim lanes in Miro communicates project status to the internal team and documents the project path with timestamps

  • Templates help save organising time while they aid in consistent documentation.

  • Project specific Miro board becomes the legacy documentation of the project helping designer log engagements for future reference, hand offs and project handovers.

  • Stakeholder ledger marks relevant people to contact.

  • Service templates help visualise user journeys and backend jobs documenting the holistic system and get multiple sign offs on the same reference, consequently keeping one source of reference.

  • This allows collaborating with most of the stakeholders while accounting for the engagement to shield the designers from missing deadlines due to poor engagement.

  • All in all, the process helps bring transparency, collaboration, accountability and awareness about the design process across the organisation. It also helps the designer to retrospect factors producing effective designs and increase efficiency in the design process. 

Learnings

Meaningful Contribution

  • A participatory approach to creating system level intervention

  • Work-life balance aided by accountability

  • Iteration and exploration for system development

  • Unlocking potentials from the existing system

Personal Growth

  • The realisation of style of working

  • Networking and rapport building

  • Earned Credibility through contribution

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