A Licence to Kill – On Agile and Software Development

One can conclude that uses centred systems design (UCSD) has much to gain when integrated into Agile systems development. Agile is the de facto Standard of systems development whereas UCSD is it not at all as commonly used. However when looking into the UCSD activities in agile processes in practice one can see that this integration it’s not that easy.  In a paper by Jan Gulliksen, Marta Larusdotter and me we therefore conclude that UX professionals need a more explicit role and more authority when working in the agile projects.

We have contacted numerous interviews studies and survey studies on agile and UCSD, and we decided to bring together all these published studies together with additional experiences to make some general conclusions about agile and UCSD.

Research method

No of participants

Study 1 (S1)


82 IT professionals in country 1

Published paper: Larusdottir et al. 2009 – [37]

Study 2 (S2)

Survey and interviews

25 IT professionals from 18 software companies working on Scrum projects in country 1 in the survey, 6 IT professionals in interviews

Published paper: Larusdottir et al. 2010 [33]

Study 3 (S3)


49 IT professionals working in Scrum projects mainly in country 2

Published paper: Jia et al. 2012 [29]

Study 4 (S4)


21 IT professionals interested in usability and UX in country 2

3 Published papers: Cajander et al. 2013, Larusdottir et al. 2012, Larusdottir et al. 2014 [11, 34, 35]

Study 5 (S5)


10 IT professionals in country 1

Published paper: Larusdottir et al. 2014 – [36]

Table : An overview of the studies that are analyzed in the paper presented in this blog post.


In the paper we analyse how findings according to th for values presented in the agile manifesto To understand the constraints that the scrum process imposes.

Based on our theoretical analysis on UCSD and Agile, the studies analyzed and the experiences gained we would like to suggest the following general guidance to projects adopting an agile methodology, such as Scrum, that has the goal to focus on usability and UCSD, sorted under the respective heading:

Individuals and Communication

  1. Define the responsibility for Usability and UX for all roles; team members, Scrum master and PO.
  2. Team members responsible for Usability and UX should regularly have face-to-face communication with the actual users and at least once during each sprint.
  3. Team members should make use of multiple channels for feedback, such as social media, user forums or tweets to include the users in parallel with face-to-face communication

Working software

  1. State a clear vision for Usability and UX in an early phase and refer back to it regularly to check, if it should be changed.
  2. Define measurable goals for Usability and UX and evaluate regularly with users, if the goals are met

Customer collaboration

  1. In evaluation with users, it should be checked if the system fulfills the user requirements.
  2. Evaluations should be conducted regularly to measure how satisfied the users are and how valuable the software is for them – at least every second sprint.
  3. Give the person responsible for evaluating Usability and UX a mandate to influence the subsequent project planning – Give them “License to kill”!
  4. A communication plan should be established, for the PO, Scrum master and the team to understand the results of the evaluations.
  5. The result of the evaluation needs to lead to measures that must be commissioned and followed up.

Responding to change

  1. Define themes for the retrospective meetings and make improving the Usability and UX as one of these themes.
  2. Prioritize change requests from users highly, that support a competitive advantage for the users perspective.

If you want to know more you find the paper here:

Larusdottir, M., Gulliksen, J., & Cajander, Å. (2017). A license to kill–Improving UCSD in Agile development. Journal of Systems and Software123, 214-222.

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