Unfortunately, this left no room for the UX professional to gain a broader understanding and take a look at the big picture in order to generate ideas for new features. Moreover, as only finalized designs can be integrated into the development, designers were busy creating, testing, refining, and delivering their output fast. Facing these challenges, we had to find a solution which combines the benefits of Mode 1 and Mode 2 but leave room for UX professionals to work on higher-level and longer-term tasks that suit consistent and user-centered designs.
Creating a parallel product design workflow for better results
To address these challenges, we applied an idea of so-called Themes (we call it Mode 3) which is a set of two or more Product Design Sprints running in parallel to the main agile development workflow. To bring this idea to life, we increased the number of UX designers working in ongoing projects to enable collaboration with the core UX professionals, who were already working in the agile teams.
To improve the collaboration between the new UX designers and the developers, we arranged meetings directly after the agile-dev weeklies to chat about roadmap topics, such as new features and to gather feedback on the project in general. This approach brought immediate results as both parties gained understanding and better focus on the operative tasks.
Eventually, after a few lessons learned and team rearrangements, we managed to get the Theme setup together and running. Providing a structured and strongly integrated design-dev agile team with a great amount of flexibility for the UX professionals to generate tons of ideas outside of the development sprint limitations.
Integrating developers into the initial design phase
Within the Theme environment, UX designers were able to react quickly and to create better products iteratively. However, there was still one problem to be solved: how to integrate developers into the initial design phase before the agile development project (Sprint Zero).
Our idea was to work in the exact same way as we did in the Theme setup. In a new project, we integrated developers selected from the agile team into the initial design phase. We established regular and structured meetings to exchange ideas between the UX and development side and used the same collaborative tools to foster communication. Software engineers participated in UX workshops and worked alongside product designers in formats like Google Design Sprints or Design Studios, to solve a particular problem.
Implementing an integrated 3-Mode team set-up for outstanding results
This is how our blueprint was born. Now, we have integrated the 3-Mode team set-up in up to 70-80% of all intive Kupferwerk design & development projects and witnessed outstanding results:
- We are able to build better products faster and more easily.
- We established a new collaborative and open-minded working culture that helps to eliminate silos and isolated thinking.
- We are able to support our clients to transform their business in a more effective way.
If you are seeking more detailed explanations on the best practices for integrating UX into agile development or simply want to exchange your views on how a full and deeply integrated collaboration between developers and UX designers can improve team results, we are happy to take your questions.