For every project that has ever been completed, it had to first begin.
As we know, far more projects will be started than will be completed.
The obvious question is why? What happened along the way that derailed an idea that showed enough merit to begin in the first place?
Was it the team? Lack of funding? Poor concept?
More times than not, the lack of a process is a key contributor to the demise of a project. While some will scoff at such weight being put onto process, keep in mind that a specific process is not implied. The mere presence of any process will do more to keep work moving forward than anything we could prescribe.
Process manages to propel our effort forward and provide logical steps to take. The guard rails provided tend to be just enough to maintain momentum. Having a process also provides a layer of consistency to your work, making it both easier to replicate results and report on them.
Projects are inheriantly messy, and forcing them into a prefabricated design process is a recipe for artifact creation that doesn't reflect the needs of your projects.
The road produced for a project to travel on at inception is rarely known and often mired with twists and turns that wreck far too many of our grand plans. A proper process can assist in providing a map to keep things moving forward when issues ultimately arise. Having a map, keeps you focused when the task ahead of you becomes unclear and the data you have is inconclusive.
What good process can't do
No amount of structure will be able to guarantee success. Your ability to execute on the steps outlines can have a direct impact on improving the liklihood of success but just as our design work is subjective, so is our ability to extract information from the data we collect.
The UX Workflow
The UX Workflow described here could describe the activities of a specialist dedicated to performing research or it might be a portion of the duties for a hard-working design generalist. Regardless of how it potentially impacts your daily tasks, you should be able to find a way to make smarter decisions and stay on track by adhering to the workflow below.
Before beginning any project, you have a duty as a designer to perform research on the team you are considering assisting.