Microsoft: UX Research Education for Stakeholders
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Helping PM, dev, and other stakeholders better understand and consume UX research
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Even as my team at Microsoft has begun scaling to better meet the demands of our complex and ever-changing products, historically Azure Machine Learning and the AI Platform as a whole has had many more times more developers and program managers than UX researchers or designers. This has meant that UX must constantly stretch across many product areas, and work with a multitude of stakeholders who are often newer to interacting with UX professionals and deliverables. This presents many exciting opportunities as well as challenges in the way of triad engagement.
I was finding that every time I engaged with a new area of the product, which happened on average every month or two, my new PM and dev partners could benefit from additional familiarity with UXR so they could be in the best position to benefit from my work. Fortunately many teams were very amenable to taking the time to do this. They had interest in both the broad theories behind UXR as well as the more tactical touchpoints our three areas converged on.
To address this need, I devised a deck that serves as an introductory class for all stakeholders who are new to UXR or simply want to learn more about it. The deck can be standalone but is best served as a brown bag-style, informal talk with affected stakeholders where I go over the contents, giving additional details and examples, and offer a Q&A at the end, plus a case study if time allows. In a pinch, the deck can also be sent to stakeholders for them to peruse on their own, particularly the last two sections on consuming research.
Following the success of the UXR 101 deck, my team has undergone additional changes that split our UX engagement with product teams into two tiers: an upper level that offers direct support in the way of conducting and delivering research, and a lower level that offers consulting support to primarily designers and PMs to do their own UX studies with our supervision and feedback.
In light of that change, stakeholder education has become even more critical, and I'm now at work on trainings for lower-level stakeholders who will need help on the practices that make up research. In particular, I'm working on an introduction to user interviews, an advanced course on user interviews, and an assessment rubric for stakeholder-driven research sessions. In addition, I'm helping the team work on concept testing and usability testing courses. In short order, we hope to create a training system for onboarding lower-tier stakeholders to take on simpler UX work that our scope no longer allows us to directly work on. Though it's nerve-wracking to delegate work, my team is looking forward to increasing our influence across the product, making new connections, and overall bettering our products.