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Customers, Analysts, and User Centered Designers was: Re: help wanted

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  • Jeff Patton
    ... Yes & no... mostly no. Quite a few people responded to my original post, and I have resumes for a few very qualified people. When I originally dropped the
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 8, 2005
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      --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Cindy Lu
      <hfe_consulting@y...> wrote:
      > Hi! Jeff,
      >
      > Are you still looking for people?

      Yes & no... mostly no.

      Quite a few people responded to my original post, and I have resumes
      for a few very qualified people. When I originally dropped the
      message in, we needed people desparately, and I wanted to funnel the
      right kind of people into our recruiting engine. Quckly things
      changed to having a bit of a surplus of people, so we're in a hiring
      holding pattern - likely through the end of the year.

      One of the things I quickly had to warn everyone that responded to
      the message, and something I should have put into my original post,
      was that ThoughtWorks is a consultancy dedicated to Agile
      development. One of the tenets of Agile development is face to face
      customer collaboration. In short strokes that means all of our work
      is on-site with customers. That means plan on working everywhere and
      nowhere - plan on travel nearly 100%. [Saturday I'm headed from Salt
      Lake City where I live to spend a few weeks in Sydney for a client
      there.]

      I'm responding to this post verbosely because bringing up the role of
      a UCD person at ThoughtWorks actually has a lot to do with the role
      of a UCD person in any agile context.

      In most agile contexts while there's the idea that there's one team,
      there's a bifurcation around requirements and planning. Those that
      determine what requirements are and what to build first fall on one
      side - that side is referred to as the customer team, or simply
      the "customer" - customer being a role - not necessarily a guy with
      wads of cash in his pocket itching to buy some software. On the
      other side are the people who take those requirements and build the
      software in short development increments.

      UCD people generally fit on the customer side since they help decide
      what to build and how it should work.

      For those of you doing UCD type of work, you likely know by now that
      it's not agile processes that neglect this sort of design work,
      it's /all/ software development processes. As a result, many of the
      clients we deal with don't usually know what a UCD person is or
      does. If the app needs a GUI and they'd like it to look good, often
      a UI-person is pulled in late to "make it pretty." So, at
      ThoughtWorks, and in many organizations, people who work with
      requirements are called "analysts." ThoughtWorks hires business
      analysts. Those business analysts work on "customer teams" working
      directly with our client's business people and end users to
      understand the business process and the software to be built and then
      communicate that into development as user stories - little bits of
      development work.

      The work I do within ThoughtWorks is to raise the level of awareness
      about the extreme amount of overlap between user centered design work
      and requirements gathering. I have hopes that our business analysts
      would use a blend of UCD techniques and traditional analysis
      techniques. What analyst couldn't benefit from contextual design
      style interview and observation skills? - usage-centered design role
      and task modeling skills? - or goal directed design's persona
      building techniques?

      I remembere being at the Agile 2005 conference this year and talking
      with Lynn Miller from Alias [who's experience report you /must/ read:
      http://www.agile2005.org/XR19.pdf%5d. She mentioned that there were
      all these poeple talking about the customer, and that it wasn't till
      well into the conference that she figured out that /she/ was the
      customer - in her words "they're talking about me!"

      So to summarize:
      * UCD people, you're "agile customers." Did you know that?
      * I believe most people in software development don't know what UCD
      people really do, so to them you're "business analysts." Did you
      know that?

      ThoughtWorks always benefits from having good people that can help
      that agile customer role. We call them business analysts - cuz
      that's what our clients understand. The best people in that role
      have user centered design skills - along with a lots of others.

      thanks,

      -Jeff
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