Our Recipe for Success: Planning, Learning, Communicating (and Succeeding) in a Complex Agile Environment

Session Title

Our Recipe for Success: Planning, Learning, Communicating (and Succeeding) in a Complex Agile Environment


Anshu Agarwal & Marni Gasn,

Session Type: Presentation

Who says there’s no time for User Experience (UE) in Agile? Since went Agile in early 2007, it’s been a challenge adapting UE to successfully communicate, integrate, and deliver usable features within tight release timelines. In a company with ~45 feature scrum teams, each team has evolved its processes to best fit the dynamics of its members. As a shared resource, User Experience team members need to be that much more knowledgeable about best practices to ensure that each feature is delivered without compromises to the user experience.

The Salesforce for Outlook team rose above the everyday challenges of Agile and not only achieved their goals, but overcame obstacles related to a multi-team, multi-city, multi-platform, and multi-release project. As the UI Designer and Usability Analyst actively involved in this exciting project, we watched every team member become invested in the usability, utility, and design of the feature. Looking back on our experience, we’ll share a retrospective recipe for success that every UE professional could apply in their own Agile teams.

User Experience in Agile will always be a challenge. We’ll discuss our lessons learned from start to finish, including our brainstorming methods, when technical feasibility discussions happened, how we got our teammates interested in attending usability sessions, and more. We’ll even teach you what a design studio is and how to get your teams interested in sketching design ideas with you. We hope that our success story and methods can help others in UE discover the opportunities that Agile has to offer.


Anshu Agarwal is a Usability Analyst at She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Human Factors & Ergonomics at Cornell University. Anshu has remained actively involved in research since joining Salesforce, having presented at numerous conferences including CHI, AGILE, HFES, Grace Hopper, and HCII. At, Anshu works with multiple feature teams to provide usability research and to promote User Experience.

Marni Gasn is a User Interface Designer at After studying Human Computer Interaction at Stanford University, Marni joined Salesforce during 2007. Since then, she has been working to improve team processes, adopt UE best practices, and create exceptional user experiences for her feature teams.


  1. Posted October 1, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    biggest issue i’ve found is keeping more limited UX resources ahead of implementation and, with that, a “right” amount of DUF. looking for new ways to address that. not clear if you are going to deal with that or not, but i’d want to see that b4 coming to this.

  2. Marni Gasn
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Totally agree! Fitting User Experience activities (design and research) is always a challenge with Agile’s tight timelines. We will definitely be talking about how we’ve adapted to fit ensure that the user experience is never compromised.

    For this particular presentation, we’ll also describe how we fit 3 rounds of usability testing plus a round of concept validation into the multi-release sprint schedule.