A running start towards enablement: how a UX guild will broaden our horizons
When the UX team was first created at Dynatrace, our biggest challenge was imparting the value that UX design could offer the product. We encouraged all teams to start collaborating with the UX team from the very first phases of a project, in order to develop the right user flow and the right framework. The result of this approach can be seen in our platform today — we provide our users with an outstanding experience, considering the level of sophistication and complexity of Dynatrace.
The accelerated growth of the company presents many teams with both challenges and opportunities to change the way they work, and the UX team is no exception. We are actively working on innovating how to scale the UX team and escalate the impact we can have on the company and our platform.
The goal: equipping everyone with a UX-aware mindset
The sooner one can identify that a solution is on the wrong path, the faster we can head in the right direction. And to support the R&D principle of failing fast and learning early, it is essential to provide guidance for how to:
- tackle UX challenges
- develop a sensitivity for proficient user interfaces, and
- adopt a UX mindset.
In response to the opportunity presented by this company growth, the core UX team (based in our Linz lab) is returning to the origins of their purpose, and will be operating primarily as an enablement team. This will allow us to convey the fundamentals of UX knowledge and awareness to all teams: equipping every R&D team with the resources, methods, patterns and knowledge they need to be able to build good, usable and consistent UIs themselves, especially when they do not have a dedicated UX designer working with them.
To achieve success with this endeavour, we need a team of experts who will validate concepts and ideas with us, help us gather requirements, provide us with feedback, test the resources and utilize the methods we develop.
The solution: a dedicated UX enablement guild to better connect teams
Many leading software companies already use the concept of guilds very successfully. Typically, guilds comprise of members with the same role, but who are in different teams and report to different managers (e.g. developers). However, we aren’t just adopting this concept; we needed to find a way to make it work for us — for our culture, our values and our team structures. Our UX enablement guild is therefore structured a bit differently — in a way that is unique to Dynatrace. Of course, the guild members are from different teams and are working on different features, but instead of consisting of members who share the same role, we are connecting people from completely different areas of expertise. We see a huge advantage in including members from product management, support, DesignOps, DevOps and cloud application readiness teams.
For a UX designer to be truly successful, the user experience needs to be considered and included from the start, and throughout every phase of a project. With the UX enablement guild functioning cross-team, cross-feature and cross-competence, we will be able to approach all projects with a UX awareness from the concept phase to the actual release.
The result: better understanding, better collaboration, better outcomes.
Unlike typical guilds, our UX enablement guild won’t create additional work for guild members, over and above their daily job responsibilities. The goal of our guild is to foster a UX-aware mindset that will implicitly influence and guide the user experience of any project. For example, whenever a product manager starts to work on a new project, having a UX-aware mindset will ensure that they adopt the appropriate perspective, user flow or methods to identify inconsistencies or counter-intuitive behavior.
The reason for creating a UX enablement guild is to allow a group of different roles to stay in constant contact with the core UX team in order to discover bottlenecks, a lack of knowledge or identify missing resources. However this is a communication loop — it is also a great way for us to learn about you, your roles, your requirements and your challenges.
Better understanding always fosters better collaboration, which inevitably results in better outcomes.
Having a certain level of UX awareness from the start of a project allows for a different perspective when tackling usability challenges, even when working without a dedicated UX designer.
Guild setup and responsibilities
The guild has just been established a few months ago, and is only the first — although significant — step of many to come in terms of enablement topics that will be driven by the Dynatrace core UX team. The guild meets on a regular basis, and each session is divided into discussing a specific UX enablement topic as well as discussing topics determined by the guild members themselves. It’s success will be shaped by active participation and contribution by all members, and by determining what meaningful measures can come as a result from our collaboration. The results, resources and other outcomes of the guild’s initiatives will be made available to the entire company.
The guild members will inevitably build up a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of UX, and hopefully develop a sensitivity to the users’ perspectives. As we develop more resources, and democratize our knowledge of UX, the guild members will be able to act as a UX touchpoint within their teams when it comes to solving any UX challenges. This will go a long way in assisting the UX team with the scalability challenges that we are faced with.
Our main focus always needs to be on our end users and how we can cope with a growing product and company, while maintaining our standards of quality and consistency. Improving and strengthening our collaboration will lead to better UI design and improved end-to-end user experience, which is essential to our platform values.
Since we are venturing into unfamiliar and exciting territory with our new guild structure and model, we have to test the concept. As with any new project, developing the guild will be an iterative process.
We will work with the guild to develop the best model and identify opportunities for creating resources and sharing our knowledge. Dynatrace has experts in every discipline, and through collaboration and keeping the end-user in mind, we can push our platform to the limits of innovation.
This is only the beginning of the UX enablement initiative. In addition to the guild, the core UX team is developing other topics centred around enablement and will keep you updated on our undertakings.
Stay curious. Stay informed. Stay tuned.