To include design in your dev sprint or get it done ahead of time?

by Cedric Dugas on June 17, 2014

One tough question that product managers seem to be split in half. In web development, design is often a big part of the product & takes a bigger place than in a conventional software product. That means you need to take more time for design, have multiple breeds of devs, front-end & back-end & fit all that in a scrum mindset.

That makes for some headache, that is why product managers will often opt to put design one sprint ahead. It’s just easier to manage, but at what cost?

On one side you get people that say you should never split design from development, all in one sprint.

1. Your user stories take two sprints for being done instead of one, big iterations are slower.
2. Design & development get split a bit, less collaboration on design creation, may miss some important answers.
3. Developers takes less accountability of the design
4. Designers get caught up between two guns, must deliver next sprint user stories but also help developers do mini iterations when the design does not work as expected.

Then on the other side, keeping both separate has also great advantages:

1. Most teams already worked somewhat like that, ease workflow between design & development
2. Easier to manager front-end devs workflow, always work to do
2. Make sure devs understand the user stories well, better estimation
3. Easier to manage designs flow, can get inputs from users & stackholder before going to development stage

For me..

I’m frankly not sure one option is always better than the other one. I guess it depends a lot on the team, the company, the culture you are in.

For now I opt to do design one sprint ahead, on some projects it makes sense to do it in the same sprint, but in a lot of projects, user stories can have more development than design, so figuring out how to make all that work in every sprint is a big headache.

I still integrate the designers in the agile team, they are there at the daily scrum, the devs know what the designers are working on, it’s a base to build upon, it all can change in the development sprint but at least we have some foundation we can start working with, and iterating on.


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