Today I got to work with a project team…product manager, project manager, developer, designer, content writer…outlining out the scope of the effort, sketching some possible solutions, writing up user stories. As we’re discussing possible features, the project manager says…
Yeah…we’ve got a nickname for you…The Scope Creeper!
– Project Manager
I get that. If our job is to manage that tasks are completed with a minimum time, resource, and uncertainty, then yes I can see why user experience — defining the needs of external users, validating that our solutions meet those needs — might feel like a vast open suckhole through which unpredictable targets and complexity can taint a neat and tidy Gantt Chart.
But here’s the deal. It’s very easy for us to look within the organization and ask, “what do we need to do to get this out the door.” But we’re not done there. The finish line isn’t “the product is out the door.” It’s “when it’s out the door, people enjoy using it, and we’re making money on it.” If the product doesn’t fill a need people have…if it doesn’t do the job people want to hire it to do…or if people can’t understand how to make the product do the job, then our task list is incomplete. Isn’t it better that we know where the REAL finish line is? I know the executives funding this project think so.
User experience work…understanding users, using empathy to explicitly design for emotional appeal and delight, testing to ensure we’ve met our experience goals…is not scope creep. That work is implicit in product development. You can do it in a lean measure-build-test way, or you can build your full product and THEN see which efforts were right, which were waste, and which fell short of customer expectations. User experience work is scope discovery!
I’m a friggin super-hero over here!