Camp Digital Bite Sized

sigma-campdigital-bitesized

Last week Sigma hosted the first in a series of mini or ‘bite sized’ Camp Digital events in the run up to next years annual conference. The event at MMU’s mew business school explored emerging trends, best practices and real world advice for the digital and UX community.

The evening of presentations and networking was a great success with colleagues, peers and students from across the digital industry. The three presentations covered the topics of:

  • Guerilla UX Techniques
  • Using Analytics to Drive UX Strategy
  • The Creative and Innovative Business Analyst

Chris Bush – Sigma

Guerilla UX Techniques

Chris has developed Sigma’s services in user research, testing and user experience consulting. As well as heading up Sigma’s UX practice in the UK, he is often the Lead Designer on many projects, helping to shape a project from the initial pitch, through user testing to the final release.

Chris presented some tips, tools and techniques used in iterative, guerrilla UX testing. Reviewing which of these activities gave the best ROI against more formal testing strategies.

Simon Wharton – PushON

Using Analytics to Drive UX Strategy

Simon is managing director of award-winning digital marketing agency, PushON and a founder of the market leading SASCon conference. Since its launch in 2005, PushON has grown into one of the most highly regarded digital agencies in the UK with a team of 25 digital experts and an annual turnover in excess of £1m.

Simon presented some tips and techniques of using analytical tracking tools to give meaningful insight to user behavior and how to use data to validate your iterative UX strategy. Based on a case study from alternative music news website, Louder Than War.

Ian Richards – Serco

The Creative and Innovative Business Analyst

Ian has over 15 years worth of experience in the business analysis field with many large Blue Chip Companies, including Fujitsu, IBM, The AA and British Steel. However, he is currently a Principal Business Architect within Serco’s public and private sector, involved in both bid and transitional work in the services industry.

Using thought provoking material, Ian’s presentation examined how “unleashing the potential of the mind” can bring about new ideas which can be applied in the world of analysis. Using examples, quotations and different perspectives, Ian showed how analysts can still be creative, even when restricted by numerous constraints.

Sigma Camp Digital 3D Shadows
Camp Digital – Manchester, UK

Camp Digital is a free, one-day event in Manchester exploring some of the most important and emerging themes in the digital industry.

Why not check out some more presentations and videos here?

VIDEOS: IIBA NW&E April 2013 Meetup, MediaCityUK

Back in April the IIBA NW&E branch, in partnership with the BBC Academy, ran a successful event for over 100 Business Analysts at the BBC’s new MediaCityUK building in Salford. The presentations on the evening were recorded and made available via BBC Academy’s YouTube Channel.

Niko Vijayaratnam, BBC Future Media – News

The Business Analyst (aka. The Generalist-Specialist)

Most products in BBC Future Media are built by teams implementing Scrum yet Scrum doesn’t define a BA role… so what exactly does a BA in a Scrum team do? Niko Vijayaratnam, Senior Business Analyst in BBC Future Media – News, explores this subject looking at the work that BAs in BBC FM produce and discusses their importance to the success of recent projects.

Niko has been a Senior Business Analyst at the BBC since 2010 working on a range of projects from developing new in-house facing tools for editorial to audience facing products to cover events like the 2012 London Olympics.

John Taylor, ITV

Facing the challenge of working in a virtual office

John started his career 12 years ago working in an IT role, before moving into management accounting and finance. Eventually John found an ideal role to combine both of these areas working as a business analyst, specialising in ERP/corporate systems, which unknowingly his previous roles and experience had provided him the skills for.

Angela Stevenson, BBC Technology Solution Design

Angela is new to Business Analysis, or is she…

Angela began her journey into projects twelve years ago in the IT department of a car manufacturer, where the analysis phase was comprehensive, the objective closely guarded and the requirements rigorously tested.

Being an impressionable apprentice Angela believed all projects must be this way and so set off through a decade with variable success before finding the term ‘Business Analysis’ to neatly describe the way she worked.

Having just studied the academic side of the discipline in recent months Angela presents a light hearted look at how she is reconciling wearing both the BA and PM hats in her current role and how she aims to make the two happy bedfellows for successful projects.

iiba
UK Chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis

IIBA is a non-profit professional association focused on the development and professional recognition of the Business Analyst.

Why not see what events are coming up near you?

Visualising your backlog: Impact Mapping

This post is the first in a 2 part series on visualising your product backlog. The second post will look at Story Mapping.

Recently on a trip to Sweden I was introduced to Impact Mapping, sometimes refereed to as effect mapping, as a collaborative work-shopping technique for identifying software features and mapping them back to organisational goals and user personas. The following article is a summary of the technique, as described in the book Impact Mapping: Making a big impact with software products and projects by Gojko Adzic, along with a mix of my own observations from being involved in facilitated Impact Map sessions.

So what is impact mapping?

Well according to Gojko Adzic, an Impact Map is [1]:

A visualisation of scope and underlying assumptionsm create collaboratively by senior technical and business people. It is a mind-map grown during a facilitated discussion

Impact Maps can help you build products and deliver projects that make an impact, not just ship software. Impact mapping is a strategic planning technique that prevents organisations from getting lost while building products and delivering projects, by clearly communicating assumptions, helping teams align their activities with overall business objectives and make better roadmap decisions.

How do I impact map?

Working your way through the following questions with your team or customer will allow you to build up an impact map from scratch. These are often best achieved in a facilitated workshop environment with a number of key stakeholders represented.

Why

Defining the business goals is essential for any project and its the focus of Impact Maps. Why are we doing this? What is the goal that we are trying to achieve above all else?

Goal definition is about understanding the problem, not the solution. It should not be focused on specifically creating a product or application, rather explaining why its existence would be useful. It can be useful to try and tie the goal to the organisations value chain.

Examples:

  • Increase online conversions by 15% in the next quarter
  • Attract 20% more customers in the next financial year

Who

The first branch of an impact map looks at actors. For anyone who has spent some time with UML or traditional use cases you will know that actors can range from end-users and external suppliers to third-party applications or systems. Try and capture decision makers and those able to achieve the goal you defined or aid/block it from being achieved by others.

Consider the following questions at this stage:

  • Who can produce the desired effect? Who can obstruct it?
  • Who are the consumers or users of our product?
  • Who will be impacted by it?

These are the actors who can influence the outcome of your goal.

Examples:

  • Students with a tablet device or smart phone in the classroom
  • Corporate employees with access to the secure drive

How

The second branch level of an impact map sets the actors in the perspective of our business goal. Don’t list all the activities that an actor might want to take, just the ones that are focused on achieving your goal.

Consider the following questions at this stage:

  • How should our actors’ behavior change?
  • How can they help us to achieve the goal?
  • How can they obstruct or prevent us from succeeding?

These are the impacts that we’re trying to create. Note: They are not product features.

Examples:

  • Get faster access to accurate information
  • Have access to a wider network of colleagues to collaborate with

What

Once you have answered the goal, who and how questions you can start to consider and define your scope. This is the third branch level of your impact map and starts to identify the top level features of your product.

Consider the following questions at this stage:

  • What can we do, as an organisation or a delivery team, to support the required impacts?
  • What is the minimum that you can deliver to achieve your goal

These are the deliverables, software features and organisational activities. Do you not get too detailed at this stage and consider what the shortest route is through your map to the goal. It is very unlikely, and is potentially not a wise investment, to deliver all the features identified in your map.

Examples:

  • Product galleries
  • Online purchasing

When

This is a section that I have added but its a step that I find useful to help understand how a feature will help the organisation to achieve their goals. Agile uses the phrase “Definition of done” and in a similar way I like to think about “What success looks like”.

Consider the following questions at this stage:

  • How will you know when your goal has been achieved?
  • What action or level of engagement will signify a success for your feature?
  • How long will it take to get usable data from this feature?

The outputs from these questions will help formulate your measures or metrics. Where possible you should measure the smallest individual unit Avoid vanity measures, page views and impressions are worthless unless they prove an increase in conversion or engagement from your intended users.

Examples:

  • A completed signup form
  • A social media share

What are the outcomes?

In Adzic’s book he describes deliverables as being features, lines of code that helps organisations in achieving their goals, and of course he is right. However, I’ve often found it’s useful to understand at what point your Impact Map will be ‘finished’ and what the immediate deliverable from the exercise are.

Firstly if you are creating your Impact Map in a workshop then it will be produced within a timebox and will most likely be completed within the one session. Impact Maps are collaborative artifacts and unless you have all your stakeholder representatives available after the workshop, it’s not wise to carry on developing them in isolation.

Secondly, the largest deliverable from me as a business analyst are a prioritised list of features and measures, mapped against their actors (or personas) and goals. This allows you to quickly slice your Impact Map into a product backlog, understanding that what you have is probably high level epics that will require some breaking down into smaller stories.

user_stories

The diagram above shows how you can map the who, how & what into stories that can be worked up.

What do I need to impact map?

When I first drafted the outline of this post my intention had been to discuss different types of mind-mapping software here. And for the record, I use Xmind and have had some great results with it.

However, having written this post now, it’s clear to me that what you need in order to effectively Impact Map is a good mix of stakeholders who can represent both your organisations goals and your users needs. Without access to them you will not produce an effect map that adds real value and your roadmap and backlog will be flawed from the start.


Impact Mapping: Making a big impact with software products and projects by Gojko Adzic

If you’re interested in Impact Mapping you’ll need to get a copy of Adzic’s book. This colourful and illustrative book take you through the basics needed to facilitate and create an Impact Map for your team or customers.

[1] Adzic, Gojko. 2012. “Impact Mapping.” [online]. impactmapping.org

Lean UX: Agility through cross-functional collaboration

Update: Jeff’s presentation is now available online.

Today I was lucky enough to attend Jeff Gothelf’s O’Reilly webcast on Lean UX.

I was particularly keen to attend the webcast as I’ve been around Agile projects for some time, performing business analysis activities and supporting clients through rapid prototyping, but I wasn’t sure how to make UX activities Agile and I was hoping that this webcast would help me answer that.

Well the good news was, Jeff explained that Lean UX is inspired by Agile development theories:

Lean UX is the practice of bringing the true nature of our work to light faster, with less emphasis on deliverables and greater focus on the actual experience being designed.

And is based on the values from the Agile Manifesto:

  • Individuals and interactions vs. processes and tools
  • Working software vs. comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration vs. contract negotiation
  • Responding to change vs. following a plan

Up until this point I hadn’t really seen any differences between Agile software development and what Jeff was describing as Lean UX. That’s when Jeff explained how Lean UX is really based on the Lean Startup Process. And how Lean UX had evolved the Lean Startup process to create this:

Figure 1: Lean UX Process. Source: Kevin Kauzlaric (http://kevinkauzlaric.com)
The Lean UX Process [1]
It started to make sense to me.

Note: I know it’s unfortunate that only this week I was tweeting that It’s Time to Retire ‘Crap Circles’, but it did the job!
#BadTiming

There has been a shift from can this product be developed (technically) to should this product be developed (because our users need need/want it).

Jeff went on to say that “In a fast-paced environments, traditional UX is a bottleneck. We have to change perspective on how to “do” UX, today’s markets require a new way. A faster way. Designers can no longer hide behind their monitors any more! This is a designer led initiative. Get designs out there. Fast. In public – where others can see them.

5 Things you need to do to be Lean

In Jeff’s presentation he suggested 5 tactics that you can do to help kickstart Lean UX into use in your projects:

  1. Solve the problem together
    • As opposed to implementing someone else’s problem.
    • Give them a problem to solve – not guidelines to implement a solution.
    • This team will be far more effective, motivated and productive if you do.
  2. Sketching – it’s all the rage!
    • Get the ideas out of peoples heads.
    • It’s NOT drawing, we don’t need to see the finished article. And you can do it collaboratively.
    • Doing it together allows software engineers and designers to problem solve.
    • Sketching brings experiences to life faster.
  3. Prototype it [Amen!]
    • Build an experience, not a document.
    • Once validated, demo it to the team. And get everyone started.
    • There are no additional deliverables needed!
  4. Pair up! But do it, cross-functionally.
    • Pairing saves time and builds a common language and a common understanding of the challenges.
    • You start to free up your designers and empower your developers.
    • Developers don’t have to wait for a design to start coding something and designers are freed up to do something difficult.
  5. Start a style guide
    • The cause of, and solution to, all UX problems.
    • A catalogue of the code snippets, the colour palette, the elements, the graphics.

Lean UX is not

If you’ve been around Agile projects in the past you’ve probably had to defend the things that it is not to the outside world. Lean UX is no different:

  1. Lazy
    • Its not a shortcut
  2. The only thing being removed is waste
    • Leave the toolbox intact, just use it one tool at a time and at the right time
  3. This is not a design by committee
    • That never leads to anything pretty

What did I learn?

A lot. As I’ve been writing this post I’m considering more of what Jeff described and how it can be worked into projects that I’m working on. There were a few nuggets that will stick with me though:

  • The Goal: Moving forward in parallel path with development and design.
  • ‘The Spec’ doesn’t control: Lead with the conversation, trail with the documentation (that you need).
  • The Pepsi challenge: Use data to settle subjective issues. A/B testing can settle them.
  • Go for bronze: You’re not aiming for gold medal work. It needs to be ‘just’ good enough.
  • Every design is a hypothesis: Don’t design things people don’t want. You can find out if people want theses things before hand.
  • Validate your hypothesis with the users: Keep it light and cheap. Put it in your diary once a week – get 3 or 4 people in and show them what you have ready to show them.

Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience by Jeff Gothelf.

For more on Lean UX I strongly recommend this book. Mine is in the post!

For more on Jeff you can follow him here:
@jboogie
jeffgothelf.com

[1] Kauzkaric, Kevin. 2013. “‘Lean UX’ Can Propel You Ahead Of Your Competitors In Product Design” [online]. Published on 15th March 2013. http://kevinkauzlaric.com

Bringing Projects to Life Through Rapid Prototyping

Last week I presented a breakout session at Camp Digital 2013 on the topic of Rapid Prototyping.

Synopsis

Design and build projects are often difficult to kick-off, especially when you’re struggling to convey your ideas and understand the solutions being suggested. This can lead to delays, confusion and potential rework.

Sound familiar?

Rapid prototyping provides a quick and visual solution to identifying, documenting and validating project requirements in an interactive way.

In this session Jamie will take you through examples of rapid prototypes and show you how this approach can bring your projects to life and reduce development time, costs and help to maintain your relationship with your clients.

The presentation

Sigma Camp Digital 3D Shadows
Camp Digital – Manchester, UK

Camp Digital is a free, one-day event in Manchester exploring some of the most important and emerging themes in the digital industry.

Why not check out some more presentations and videos here?

Applying ‘Persuasion, Emotion and Trust’ PET Design Theory in the Real World

This month I was fortunate enough to have been asked to speak at a conference, alongside my colleague Chris Bush, on the topic of PET ™ Design Theory, “Persuasion, Emotion and Trust”. The conference was being hosted in Gothernburg, Sweden by Maverick, a Swedish based digital agency by Sigma.

So what is PET Deisgn?

Well Human Factors International (HFI), the authors of PET design say:

PET design uses research-based techniques to leverage the science of Persuasion, Emotion, and Trust to make websites more engaging, compelling, and effective. This innovative methodology complements classic usability, empowering companies to achieve their business goals.

Presentations and Resources

We presented two sessions on the topic, an introduction to PET and then a session looking at some examples of the PET design applied.

Introducing (PET ™) Design Theory, “Persuasion, Emotion and Trust”

Applying Persuasion Design and PET ™ Theory in the Real World

Camp Digital 2013 Presentation

At our recent Camp Digital 2013 event, my colleague Chris Bush presented on the same subject, his slides are available here:

Prototyping for BA Practitioners: The BA Coach

prototyping-for-business-analysis-pracitioners-572x168
When I started this blog my intention was to create something that would encourage me to learn new skills and document them in a way that meant I would remember them and could develop them in the future. Since I started writing I have come into contact with BAs from all over the world who are looking to do something similar, some to develop themselves and some to develop others.

One of the BAs that I have met and come to admire, for his personal pursuit of excellence and commitment to develop others, is Yamo a.k.a. TheBACoach.

I was thrilled when recently I was asked to be a guest author for TheBACoach. Over the next few weeks and months I will be working alongside Yamo to deliver some blog posts, podcasts and video training to help equip BAs in the art of prototyping and promote its use.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

I’m really keen to hear feedback on the articles/podcasts/videos. If you can think of ways you think they need to improve or have topics that you want covered in the series please let me know.