8
uxpop
2y

A tale of silos, pivots, and mismanagement.

Background: Our consultancy has been working with this client for over a year now. It started with some of our back-end devs working on the API.

We are in Canada. The client is located in the US. There are two other teams in Canada. The client has an overseas company contracted to do the front-end of the app. And at the time we started, there was a 'UX consultancy' also in the US.

I joined the project several months in to replace the then-defunct UX company. I was the only UX consultant on the project at that time. I was also to build out a functional front-end 'prototype' (Vue/Scss) ahead of the other teams so that we could begin tying the fractured arms of the product together.

At this point there was a partial spec for the back-end, a somewhat architected API, a loose idea of a basic front-end, and a smattering of ideas, concepts, sketches, and horrific wireframes scattered about various places online.

At this point we had:
One back-end
One front-end
One functional prototype
One back-end Jira board
One front-end Jira board
No task-management for UX

You might get where this is going...

None of the teams had shared meetings. None of the team leads spoke to each other. Each team had their own terms, their own trajectory, and their own goals.

Just as our team started pushing for more alignment, and we began having shared meetings, the client decided to pivot the product in another direction.

Now we had:
One back-end
One original front-end
One first-pivot front-end
Two functional prototypes
One front-end Jira board
One back-end Jira board

No worries. We're professionals. We do this all the time. We rolled with it and we shifted focus to a new direction, with the same goals in mind internally to keep things aligned and moving along.

Slowly, the client hired managers to start leading everything in the same direction. Things started to look up. The back-end team and the product and UX teams started aligning goals and working toward the same objectives.

Then the client shifted directions again. This time bigger. More 'verticals'. I was to leave the previous 'prototypes' behind, and feature-freeze them to work on the new direction.

One back-end
One conceptual 'new' back-end
One original front-end
One first-pivot front-end
One 'all verticals' front-end
One functional prototype
One back-end Jira board
One front-end Jira board
One product Jira board
One UX Jira board

Meanwhile, the back-end team, the front-end team overseas, all kept moving in the previously agreed-upon direction.

At this stage, probably 6 months in, the 'prototypes' were much less proper 'prototypes' but actually just full apps (with a stubbed back-end since I was never given permission or support to access the actual back-end).

The state of things today:
Back to one back-end
One original front-end
One first-pivot front-end
One 'all verticals' front-end
One 'working' front-end
One 'QA' front-end
One 'demo' front-end
One functional prototype
One back-end Jira board
Two front-end Jira boards
One current product Jira board
One future product Jira board
One current UX Jira board
One future UX Jira board
One QA Jira board

I report to approximately 4 people remotely (depending on the task or the week).

There are three representatives from 'product' who dictate features and priorities (they often do not align).

I still maintain the 'prototype' to this day. The front-end team does not have access to the code of this 'prototype' (the clients' request). The client's QA team does not test against the 'prototype'.

The demos of the front-end version of the product include peanut-gallery design-by-committee 'bug call-outs', feature requests, and scope creep by attendees in the dozens from all manner of teams and directors.

Comments
  • 2
    Sigh. To much of that in bigger businesses now from what I can tell.
  • 0
    @senbeiwabaka It's more distressing when you can see it happening, and you know it doesn't have to be like that. You propose solutions, you push for efficient means of shipping the work, and they insist on silly waterfally failures :(
  • 1
    That sounds like a death march project. But as long as they pay your monthly bills, it's their money to waste.
  • 0
    WTF what kind of madness, but also a money machine.
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