UI Architect vs. Business Manager

28 Nov 2007 - 8:38pm
6 years ago
10 replies
983 reads
ELISABETH HUBERT
2007

Hi all,

I was doing some thinking after work today and I thought I'd post a
question. A few months ago I moved to the strategy user experience area of
my company after being in the user experience area that dealt mostly with
executing and expanding upon strategy. Despite doing some of the
"traditional" roles of an UI Architect type (this is the name of the role
where I work) such as maintaining the site structure, brainstorming
strategies etc... I've also been assigned to represent the business on some
efforts. Meaning I'll bring the project teams the requirements, make sure
they are fulfilled. In these cases our strategy team really is "the
business". I'm curious as to whether anyone else out there has the same type
of role or if this is some unique case?

Thanks!
Lis

http://www.elisabethhubert.com

Comments

29 Nov 2007 - 7:58am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 29 Nov 2007, at 01:38, ELISABETH HUBERT wrote:
[snip]
> Despite doing some of the
> "traditional" roles of an UI Architect type (this is the name of
> the role
> where I work) such as maintaining the site structure, brainstorming
> strategies etc... I've also been assigned to represent the business
> on some
> efforts. Meaning I'll bring the project teams the requirements,
> make sure
> they are fulfilled. In these cases our strategy team really is "the
> business". I'm curious as to whether anyone else out there has the
> same type
> of role or if this is some unique case?
[snip]

It's not a role I'm in at the moment, but it has been one I've been
in before. I'd say it's a moderately common one - and a useful
position to be in.

(I'm assuming here that you're also involved in setting out what
those requirements are :-)

Cheers,

Adrian

29 Nov 2007 - 10:59am
Ari
2006

your job sounds interesting.

i can't speak for anyone but myself but not everyone on this list has a
traditional background in HCI or related disciplines. some of us got into it
by proxy - due to our jobs.

i'm head of product for my company. as such, i do a little bit of
everything, including getting requirements for features, designing then,
writing the specs and so forth so your role is not necessary unusual.

Ari

On 11/28/07, ELISABETH HUBERT < ehubert22 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hi all,
>
> I was doing some thinking after work today and I thought I'd post a
> question. A few months ago I moved to the strategy user experience area of
> my company after being in the user experience area that dealt mostly with
> executing and expanding upon strategy. Despite doing some of the
> "traditional" roles of an UI Architect type (this is the name of the role
> where I work) such as maintaining the site structure, brainstorming
> strategies etc... I've also been assigned to represent the business on
> some
> efforts. Meaning I'll bring the project teams the requirements, make sure
> they are fulfilled. In these cases our strategy team really is "the
> business". I'm curious as to whether anyone else out there has the same
> type
> of role or if this is some unique case?
>
> Thanks!
> Lis
>
> http://www.elisabethhubert.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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29 Nov 2007 - 11:20am
Michael Micheletti
2006

Hi Lis,

I work for a small software company where we all seem to wear several hats
at times. I'm helping now to create the software requirements documents for
the next version of our software. The work is collaborative, involving our
product manager and software architect. I did not create the initial feature
list, so I'm mainly acting as a facilitator and writer at the moment. I'll
transition into design mode once our requirements are finished,
level-of-effort estimates are assigned, and the remaining requirements are
validated (after we weed out the implausible wishes). It sounds like you
have a more strategic role than I do, pushed further to the product
management side of the business. IMHO someone with a design background and
solid business skills/education would be a real asset as a product manager.
The whole "know your user/customer" thing we all go on about will continue
to serve you. Good luck with your new role,

Michael Micheletti

On Nov 28, 2007 5:38 PM, ELISABETH HUBERT <ehubert22 at gmail.com> wrote:

> ...Meaning I'll bring the project teams the requirements, make sure
> they are fulfilled. In these cases our strategy team really is "the
> business". I'm curious as to whether anyone else out there has the same
> type
> of role or if this is some unique case?
>
> Thanks!
> Lis
>

29 Nov 2007 - 11:46am
jrrogan
2005

Hi Elizabeth,

Your job description seems somewhat common to what I've experienced in
various places. IA's/UX'ers can wear many hats.

Presently I'm the owner of UI design and User Experience, which involves
flushing out all requirements which are executed or displayed via the GUI.
Along with this I'm in release scope meetings to determine how and what to
cut and refactor, and other impacts to UI.

In another contract, I had the additional role of GUI bug sign off, being
responsible for validating and escalating all GUI bugs. This was a great
role, and really allowed design to own the UI.

Rich

29 Nov 2007 - 11:57am
Ari
2006

Agreed. I own Product Design and Management and spend much of my time doing
UI design as well as functional design and specifications and product
management.

On Nov 29, 2007 11:46 AM, Rich Rogan <jrrogan at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Elizabeth,
>
> Your job description seems somewhat common to what I've experienced in
> various places. IA's/UX'ers can wear many hats.
>
> Presently I'm the owner of UI design and User Experience, which involves
> flushing out all requirements which are executed or displayed via the GUI.
> Along with this I'm in release scope meetings to determine how and what to
> cut and refactor, and other impacts to UI.
>
> In another contract, I had the additional role of GUI bug sign off, being
> responsible for validating and escalating all GUI bugs. This was a great
> role, and really allowed design to own the UI.
>
> Rich
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
--------------------------------------------------
www.flyingyogi.com
--------------------------------------------------

29 Nov 2007 - 12:11pm
ELISABETH HUBERT
2007

Thanks for all the great responses!! At first I had a difficult time
adjusting to the business side of my role probably due to past
experiences (and arguments) with the business partners on projects.
I'm learning to appreciate this new point of view because it allows
me to learn so many new things which contributes of course to my work
:). It's great to hear that this isn't uncommon and that I'm not
steering away from my "roots". Just a few comments/questions.

In response to Adrian I am heavily involved, along with the other IAs
on my team, with creating the requirements for the project.

In response to Michael what exactly do you refer to when you say the
product management side?

~ Lis
http://www.elisabethhubert.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23076

30 Nov 2007 - 11:46am
Michael Micheletti
2006

Software companies often have a separate Product Manager role or department.
This person or group is responsible for setting strategic product direction,
determining the feature set to be included in specific product releases,
naming of versions, setting the highest level of schedule requirements, and
determining the target market segments or customer groups the product is
aimed at. Each company organizes responsibilities a bit differently. There
are overlaps with designers (both are concerned with product feature sets
and target customers). There are overlaps with project managers (both are
concerned with schedules and the features to be included in specific
releases). There are overlaps with marketing (both are interested in
presenting the right product to the right market segment). The difference
that I see is that a product manager has a tight business focus rather than
technical or informational or design-oriented. A strong product manager with
good connections helps shape a competitive product in the marketplace. Weak
or non-existing product managers lets designers/developers/marketeers go
nuts and build things that nobody really wants.

All the above is IMHO - I haven't ever been a product manager, but have
worked with some good ones. PMs and friends on the list please correct or
clarify if you can. Thanks, hope this helps,

Michael Micheletti

On Thu, 29 Nov 2007 09:11:57, ELISABETH HUBERT <ehubert22 at gmail.com> wrote:

>
> In response to Michael what exactly do you refer to when you say the
> product management side?
>

30 Nov 2007 - 12:12pm
Ari
2006

Michael,

that's an excellent description of the role. as i've been primarily a
product guy in one guise or another for the past 3 yrs, i'd like to split
some hairs:

1. Product Managers can have a technical or design background - some
companies prefer one over the other - it really depends on the structure of
the organization, the type of products it develops, etc.
2. Product Managers function as the operational hub of the
organization. they filter requests from marketing/biz dev for product
features or functionality as well as those from users, determine
requirements, figure out how they should or could work, help to design and
implement these features, prioritize them in the product development roadmap
and queue and manage expectations and timelines.

In larger organizations, they may own one product vertical or even just one
aspect of a product. In smaller organizations like mine, they do everything
but wash the dishes and take out the trash.

speaking from personal experience - i devise my own features as i identify
areas that are lacking or translate raw requirements (i'm lucky if they're
in bullet point form) into something tangible that can be defined, designed
and specified. i also prioritize feature development, bug fixes and
enhancements as well as write copy, supervise editorial, supervise QA,
manage product support and work directly with our in-house marketing, biz
dev, design and technology teams to insure functionality and required
features are implemented into the product.

On Nov 30, 2007 11:46 AM, Michael Micheletti <michael.micheletti at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Software companies often have a separate Product Manager role or
> department.
> This person or group is responsible for setting strategic product
> direction,
> determining the feature set to be included in specific product releases,
> naming of versions, setting the highest level of schedule requirements,
> and
> determining the target market segments or customer groups the product is
> aimed at. Each company organizes responsibilities a bit differently. There
> are overlaps with designers (both are concerned with product feature sets
> and target customers). There are overlaps with project managers (both are
> concerned with schedules and the features to be included in specific
> releases). There are overlaps with marketing (both are interested in
> presenting the right product to the right market segment). The difference
> that I see is that a product manager has a tight business focus rather
> than
> technical or informational or design-oriented. A strong product manager
> with
> good connections helps shape a competitive product in the marketplace.
> Weak
> or non-existing product managers lets designers/developers/marketeers go
> nuts and build things that nobody really wants.
>
> All the above is IMHO - I haven't ever been a product manager, but have
> worked with some good ones. PMs and friends on the list please correct or
> clarify if you can. Thanks, hope this helps,
>
> Michael Micheletti
>
> On Thu, 29 Nov 2007 09:11:57, ELISABETH HUBERT <ehubert22 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> >
> > In response to Michael what exactly do you refer to when you say the
> > product management side?
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
--------------------------------------------------
www.flyingyogi.com
--------------------------------------------------

30 Nov 2007 - 12:25pm
White, Jeff
2007

On Nov 30, 2007 12:12 PM, Ari Feldman <ari1970 at gmail.com> wrote:

> 1. Product Managers can have a technical or design background

Just a quick addition: tech, design, or neither. Lots of PMs I've
worked with in the past are strictly business types - MBAs, managers
from non tech or marketing departments, etc.

Other than that, Michael and Ari's comments are exactly the experience
I've had as well.

Jeff

30 Nov 2007 - 8:10pm
Mark FelcanSmith
2003

I manage a user experience group situated w/in our business and
marketing division. In this organizational location (as opposed to
previous positions w/in IT at other companies), I'm better positioned to
form strategic partnerships w/ my Product Management colleagues and
present the value proposition of our UX team to them in terms of how UX
can help them achieve their desired goals as well as how we can help
them leverage our UX design research practice into their strategic
planning research.

I say this because my group is already at the same table with them due
to our organizational structure. Rather than trying to convince them to
meet with me (a challenge I always faced when in IT), the expectation is
already there that UX will be engaged. I now need to help educate them
about the value we provide across the customer lifecycle.

Our work model is to essentially partner up and conduct paired research
and analysis to best define what it is we should be building, why, and
how that fits into a bigger user environment design (aka the business
strategic vision) - think of a Venn diagram where UX, Business and
Technology are represented and the crux is the sweet spot of user
desirability, business viability, and technical feasibility. This
partnership enables us to construct a user environment design and
utilize it as a tool for release planning and project scoping. We know
how the pieces fit together, and in what combinations, to provide
coherent solution designs. We also benefit from strong relationships
with our IT counter-parts and engaging them early in our work to
contribute to the feasibility scoring.

If you haven't yet read this article on boxes and arrows, I recommend
it. The authors provide a good view into transitioning from a UX
practitioner into more of a business owner, i.e. product manager.

http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/transitioning-from

I'm more and more interested, and pushing myself and teams, into
UX-informed business strategy work. Where the premise of design as a
competitive advantage, and how UCD and UX architecture can help business
achieve their vision, is helping me open doors and get more meetings w/
those currently in the decision-making seats.

Good luck!

-Mark

-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf Of ELISABETH HUBERT

... I'm curious as to whether anyone else out there has the same type of
role or if this is some unique case?

Thanks!
Lis

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