Design sprints are there to finish the product design phase as quickly and efficiently as possible. But sometimes, you don’t have an in-house team of experts to do it for you, and you need to hire a dedicated remote team for your troubles.
Today, we’ll discuss how you can make your remote design sprint the most effective. But for the uninitiated, let’s start with defining a design sprint.
Definition of A Design Sprint
A design sprint is a rapid process. It’s a five-day process, and the 5 stages are:
- Day 1: Understand
- Day 2: Diverge
- Day 3: Converge
- Day 4: Prototype
- Day 5: Validate
The reasons behind creating a prototype are:
- Finding a unique perspective
- Progressing work faster based on a primary model
- Solving problems with innovation
- Developing unique solutions
The Challenges of Running A Remote Sprint Design
As much as we like to maintain a positive attitude, let’s get the negatives out of the way first when it comes to remote design sprints before we proceed to the guide to remote design sprints.
Gap In Communication
When you’re designing remotely with a dedicated team, there will always be some kind of communication gap between the team members or between the team and you. It can lead to delays and multiple iterations because of differences in requirements and output.
The problem can also persist if your client is remote, which can lead to a bigger communication gap if all parties are not putting in the same amount of effort.
Not Everyone Is Used To The Same Set of Tools
You need different collaboration tools and working equipment to run a remote team. But here’s the thing: the teammates can be from any different region and experience range, and not all might be used to the same remote tools.
In this case, providing everyone with the right training and getting the team up to speed can take a lot of time.
Team Engagement Is Lacking
Nothing can beat in-house team engagement. Remote design can sound appealing, but there’s always the additional advantage of everyone being at the same location and having a face-to-face meeting.
When having a remote design team meeting, members can get distracted by anything around them, along with the easy escape of alt-tabbing to Netflix.
Different Tech Issues Can Arise Anytime
There can be a ton of different tech issues that can appear anytime from anywhere. It can be as major as damaged software infrastructure to something as simple as a low battery for your AirPods. While every problem has a solution, it will be annoying anyway.
Things Can Get Out of Hand Pretty Fast
When you’re managing the entire project on a single virtual whiteboard, and everyone has a different idea about using the said whiteboard, everything can get very disorienting and unorganized.
No one, including you, has any idea how many sticky notes you will have to dig through before finding effective data.
Steps For Remote Design Sprints
The remote design sprints can be divided into three basic stages, each of which will have its own set of steps. So let’s take it from the top and start from the pre-development stage.
- Preliminary Stage
- Sprint Stage
- Post-Sprint Stage
1. Start With Defining The Issue
It all starts with a meeting between the key stakeholders and the product that defines a specific issue that the product owner should solve with their product.
2. Go Through An Efficient Planning Session
Now that you have an idea, it’s time to write down the plan you need to execute to achieve the perfect product. The plan will include all the tech stack you will need for the entire development cycle and the team size you need for execution while defining each team’s roles.
3. Build Your Team
After you build a team full of professional experts, it’s time to assign them the roles you determined your plan. But always remember that the team members should be able to change their roles anytime for maximum productivity flexibly.
4. Create A Sprint Schedule
You have a product team, and you have a plan. It’s time to create a schedule for all possible future sprints, but most importantly, focus on the immediate sprints. But the goal of the entire sprint process is to solve a problem, which brings us to our next point.
5. Find The Problem You Wish To Solve With The Sprint
Now that you have sprint planning find the problem you want to fix with said sprint. There can be a lot of objectives or potential solutions that need to be solved or achieved with a sprint, but you should always decide on the priority of the method with different agile frameworks.
1. Keep The Whole Team On High Alert
Sprint stages require intense concentration, so you must ask the entire team to focus and create a strict environment. Make it clear in every meeting that the team members will always have to focus their most on the work. You also have to help the whole team catch up to speed with regular sync sessions to compensate for the lack of real-time in-person communication.
2. Create The Perfect Checklist
Performing a sprint is like checking off a giant checklist. To make it easier, here’s the checklist for you:
- Get the entire team all the necessary tools
- Introduce the goal of the sprint with a meeting
- Share the user flows and problem
- Allow the team some time to discuss and brainstorm
- End all the steps with a vote
- Keep documentation for every step you complete in the sprint
3. Make Sure Everyone’s Visible
To ensure everyone’s working in tandem, you should instruct the entire team to keep their webcam and mic on. That way, when the team is working remotely (mostly the case), the team members can create a simulated feeling of working in a physical location.
4. Keep Communication To The Maximum
Even when the work hours are over, it’s a must that all the team members should keep in constant communication with each other. No details should be missed by any team members at any point of the sprint so that all the team members are constantly keeping pace together.
5. Don’t Forget To Take Breaks
Work is important, and so is taking a break from it. A tired brain cannot function properly, and that’s something that applies to everyone on your team as well. Take note of everyone’s strengths, and remember never to overwhelm anyone at any point in the sprint.
1. Structure Your Shareout
Shareout is where you share the development progress with individuals it may concern. You need to divide the hours between the concerned parties so you can gather user feedback.
- Detailed reviews of sprint activities with different stakeholder teams
- Gather comments on Figma prototypes
- The design team should assign a certain office hour field for any questions and discussions
2. Review And Document Everything You Found
Make sure to review every single finding after each sprint and record each find in the detailed documentation. It’s also a great practice to capture every decision the development team makes. Everyone’s opinion should hold equal weight when they submit it.
3. Team Retrospective
Retrospective sessions are meetings where the team asks three post-sprint questions:
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- What do you need to do next time?
Planning retrospectives and sprints regularly is okay, but the frequency shouldn’t be too close to give the team members some breathing room.
4. Maintain The Momentum
After you’ve completed the sprints and held a couple of retrospectives, you already know what you can do to improve the overall quality of the product with different iterations and the right improvements. The trick here is maintaining the same momentum as when you started the project.
5. ABC: Always Be Capturing
This is an often overlooked concept during sprints. Capture every instance of decision makings, ideas, agreements, and even disagreements.
Having a detailed online whiteboard with many Post-it notes is okay, but if you cannot make sense of the board with proper context, it’s all pointless in the end.
To Wrap It All Up
Design sprints are one of the most complicated processes, even when they are done in person. Virtual design sprints require an additional degree of finesse from the project manager, team leader, and all the developers.
A remote design sprint is a structured workshop process that brings together a team of people to solve a specific design challenge in a collaborative and time-boxed manner, but without being physically present in the same location.
A remote design sprint allows teams to work together effectively even when not in the same location. It saves time and money on travel expenses and creates a flexible work environment accommodating team members from different time zones.
A remote design sprint typically involves a series of structured virtual workshops to help teams ideate, prototype, and test a solution to a specific problem. It involves using various collaboration and communication tools to ensure all team members can work together effectively.
The benefits of a remote design sprint include increased productivity, greater flexibility, reduced costs, and the ability to bring together a diverse range of talent from different locations.
The main challenges of a remote design sprint include technical issues such as internet connectivity, difficulty building rapport and trust remotely, and the need for effective communication and collaboration tools.