Inclusive Product Thinking

Session Host/Speaker(s)

The IT team doesn't just build features anymore; we're increasingly asked to develop products, and support them long term. As our horizons stretch farther, it becomes more important that we truly understand our users and their needs, and find ways to include them in our planning and prioritization.

UC Recruit is a web application in use by all ten campuses in the UC system, so we get a lot of feature requests. This presentation examines the way we handle incoming requests, from start to finish. This process reveals a lot about what our team values, how we collaborate, and where we're still growing.

We'll look at the way we handle idea intake, and the many iterations of the pipeline that have led to higher quality submissions. This is one part of our ongoing efforts to find ways to better separate the user's asked-for-feature from the user's unasked-for-need.

We'll talk about the Working Group we've chartered to help us better understand the scope and breadth of proposed projects. The collaborative scoring mechanism we built to guide our thinking about prioritization also encourages the best practices our team has learned over the years. The Roadmaps that the Working Group creates let our team and our stakeholders plan ahead and understand where to focus our effort.

We'll cover our project lifecycle, from the kickoff call to the two retrospectives we run per project. A Business Analyst and a Technical Lead from our team meet with Subject Matter Experts from around the UC system to triage stories, investigate needs, and review designs. Drafting and socializing project Vision Statements ensures that all our stakeholders understand and agree with our direction. Invited Experts let us get different perspectives and deeper experience. Regular demos keep communication lines open and feedback flowing. Collaborating on these key decisions allow our developers to proceed with confidence and continue making fortnightly releases.

Finally, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how we built all of that, because it's taken years to get where we are, and knowing the journey can enable you to identify which parts of our process might help you and which parts you can safely put off.