In some organizations, the user experience (UX) team is seen as a problem child. It has merits, brilliant minds and capable hands. But, it has its own ways of working.
In a typical services company, the UX team works in a horizontal mode – providing consultancy to every business unit. In product companies, the UX team may be divided according to the product portfolios. Regardless of size and nature of business, one thing is common that managing the UX team takes a toll on the CxOs of the organization. The pressures of billability, team members’ utilization and investment of tools are the commonplace problems. Of course, there is no panacea (the cure-all medicine) to these problems.
Many tools, methodologies have been attempted to “civilize” the team. One of them is Kanban.
Kanban literally means ‘signpost’, a just-in-time production system designed by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota. Kanban is a system to control the logistical chain from a production point of view, and is not an inventory control system.
In simple words, Kanban means to produce only when there is a demand. It helps organizations to be leaner, productive and have faster turnarounds. There is ample material available on the net to read and watch videos on Kanban system.
I took the Kanban approach and applied to the typical UX team scenarios. The first sketch shows a Kanban dashboard of projects in UX portfolio. It has visual cues and legends that helps the UX managers / leads to focus on what is important from delivery and sales point-of-view.
The second sketch depicts the Kanban system from the team and tools perspective – how many designers we need to hire, what tools we need to purchase.
The third sketch shows the Kanban cards the UX team members would receive as work queues. They will get a precise description of what needs to be delivered, how and when.
If you tie these three sketches together, it could lead you to a system of UX team management – a web tool or an iPad app (if you visualize). Who does not want some structure to the maverick team :)?