UX Roadmaps

9 Apr 2009 - 2:14pm
5 years ago
4 replies
3329 reads
chip trout
2009

I manage a small UX team within the Product department of a .com. As
part of the overall company strategy each department leader has been
tasked with creating a (gulp) 5 year road map of their respective
departments. I'm not a business school grad and have only seen road
maps and have never created one. Has anyone out there done such a
thing for a UX group and if so do you have any advice or resources
that might help me out.

I would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks,
Chip

Comments

9 Apr 2009 - 4:18pm
juliecab
2007

I've worked in both product management and UX for several years in
each. Good resources for the overall concept of product roadmaps
include Pragmatic Marketing:

http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/resources/archived-webinars/building-effective-product-roadmaps

Where I currently work and manage a UX team, we manage a UX/IA/Design
"Layer" to our roadmap separate from the actual product roadmap, as
what we do in UX often extends across products and properties. Feel
free to contact me if you want to discuss.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=41138

9 Apr 2009 - 10:47pm
Dante Murphy
2006

Chip-

Consider yourself fortunate that your employer foresees a 5-year growth plan for your department...my experience has been that the UX team is often shoe-horned into some other department's org structure, and that career growth is not well envisioned or managed. As such, I've been through the process of defining growth and integrgation plans for UX departments quite a few times and would be happy to help you with you specific problem.

That said, here are some general rules that might be helpful to all parties, and might get you going in the right direction.

1. Plan for managed incremental growth that doesn't radically change the concentration of skill on your group. If most of your people are entry level, it will be disruptive to team chemistry as well as your peers' understanding and expectations of their capabilities of you go out and hire 5 Liz Bacon's (as if there could be more than one!). Grow the people you have, match them with new hires a level or two above who have mentoring skills, and grow at a manageable pace. the thing you want to avoid is creating the perception that you can do amazing things and not having enough rock-stars on the team to deliver...or, conversely, that all you can do is boxes and arrows (apologies to Christina Wodtke!) and your rock stars get bored and complacent.

2. Integrate your growth plan with that of the division you belong to, and with your peer organizations. In many cases UX should grow more quickly rhan an established practice like visual design or development, simply because UX tends to be understaffed and underutilzed. If your editorial group is planning to add a new "associate director" level, try to align with them and create a caucus that HR would rather adopt than fight.

3. Similarly, you should map transitional career paths that will allow your rising star UX practitioner become a creative director if she wants to, or will welcome a kindred-spirit programmer to change careers and become "one of us". One thing I have recently proposed at my company is the concept of a "skill differential pay scale" that would allow a director-level Flash programmer to join my group as a lower-level UX practitioner without taking a pay cut because of the incremental skills he posseses(and can bring to bear in terms of prototyping, tech assessment, etc.).

4. Titles matter. Not in the way we often debate in this forum, but the titles you choose for your people must be indicative of what they do on the context of your organization and the types of projects you work on. You will also need to differentiate from other established practices; if there is already a department called "experience architecture", don't call yourself "user experience architecture", even if that's a precise definition of what you do.

5. Titles within the group matter too. Create a capability grid that defines the baseline skills, tasks, and metrics for each position within your group. Make sure that each level is clearly differentiated from all others; a "senior IA" should do more than cut three more birthday cakes than an "IA", like metorship, client presentations, authoring patterns, etc.

6. Use "dotted lines" to indicate the groups you aspire to work with, like business development or tech assessment. Don't be afraid to be aspirational in your plan for global domination, just be prepared to explain why it's a good idea.

7. Try to define a 5-year future that includes staffed positions at least 2 level higher than the highest currently staffed. If you're a manager, map out to VP or SVP level. A department without a VP is a fad, or at least a candidate for the parachute-pants hall of fame.

I hope that this makes sense and is helpful...feel free to contact me off-list if you have any questions or want to run an idea past me.

Dante Murphy
VP/UX
Digitas Health

________________________________

From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com on behalf of troutc
Sent: Thu 4/9/2009 8:14 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] UX Roadmaps

I manage a small UX team within the Product department of a .com. As
part of the overall company strategy each department leader has been
tasked with creating a (gulp) 5 year road map of their respective
departments. I'm not a business school grad and have only seen road
maps and have never created one. Has anyone out there done such a
thing for a UX group and if so do you have any advice or resources
that might help me out.

I would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks,
Chip
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10 Apr 2009 - 7:51am
stevie black
2009

Dante;

Your response to Chip's inquiry was insightful and spot-on. I would expect someone from Digitas to get it and relate the salient points of departmental growth in UX.

As much as the managing of staff and the mapping of hierarchical structure is important, I think you'd agree that the "dotted lines" conversation that Chip needs to foster internally may be his biggest challenge as it requires buy-in about the value of UX from every aspect of the company. Still, we all agree that the fact that Chip's been asked to develop such a plan shows great forward thinking.

Thanks again for the wonderfully succinct and fully-dressed evaluation of the roadmap to the roadmap.

Stevie Black
Creative Director
McDougall Interactive
http://mcdia.com

10 Apr 2009 - 5:40pm
chip trout
2009

Thanks to everyone for their responses. Dante I really appreciate the
time you took to respond and give me advice. You went above and
beyond. I am certainly going to take you up on your offer to run
ideas past you. Thanks also for pointing out the obvious...the fact
that my company does value UX and wants a five year plan is a rare
occurrence these days.

Please if you have more thoughts keep them coming. I'll also let
everyone know how the plan is coming as I progress.

Many thanks,
Chip

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=41138

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