Edgar Uy believes software design and development can only achieve the highest quality after a careful, deliberative, collaborative process. 

As the head of digital strategy and delivery for the Project Management Institute, his work involves overseeing user experience design, customer analytics, and search. The Institute is an advocate for effective project management practices in a sector that is seeing considerable job growth. According to the organization, over 15.7 new project management jobs will be created by 2020.

Optimizing Customer Experience

Uy has 20 years of experience in the field, with a particular emphasis on design. He describes it as his key passion amidst all the different areas that his work covers. 

He strongly encourages those involved with project management to focus on the powers of thoughtful collaboration in order to create the best experiences. His current project, which involves platforming an entire content management system (CMS) from scratch, has been an instructive mission and guides his thinking about what a successful project looks like from start to finish.

Uy describes himself as a “designer at heart.” 

He got started in the graphic design field in the early 1990s, and since then his work has touched upon fashion, retail, manufacturing, financial services, and even group insurance. His focus on collaboration is key, as he believes that it ultimately will create the best possible experience for the customer when it comes to the final version of a product.

Capitalizing on Agile Processes

You can hear more about Uy’s take on digital strategy and collaboration at CMSWire's second annual DX Summit this Nov. 14 through 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago. In anticipation of his presentation, we sat down for a brief chat with him about design, collaboration and more.

Walter: Tell us about one of the projects you're working on now. 

Uy: We’re deploying a new project next week where we’re undergoing the process and strategy to platform an entire CMS. It has come with all the unexpected surprises and what not that comes about no matter how much you plan for something. 

The collaboration and delicate work we’ve put into it have been a foundational part of the process and it’s been a multi-year project that we’ve really enjoyed undertaking. There are still challenges, specifically about the governance of the whole platform as it’s entirely new.

Walter: An entirely new CMS is always a considerable project. How did this project come about?

Uy: We had always used the same platform, but fell off the upgrade path so we were many versions behind of where we wanted to be. 

The big question whenever you undertake this type of project is how do you operationalize a new platform given you’ve been using the old one for so many years? In our case we weren’t using it in the way that it was fully supposed to be used, so that presented its own challenges. For the next phase of the project, we asked how we could maximize the platform.

Walter: Why do collaborative practices resonate so strongly for you? 

Uy: I believe in following agile practices when it comes to software development and project management. When you work in an agile environment, you should have an approach that’s more collaborative because the size of the team and the way you work is highly iterative. 

Learning Opportunities

It requires a lot of documentation. There's a misnomer that with agile practices you don’t do any documentation. You actually limit the documentation to key artifacts, and the work really comes down to the closeness of team collaboration and working very tightly together. 

A lot of the exploration and natural discovery in the development process extends from that philosophy and implementing agile principles. 

Walter: How can these practices make a difference to the user in the end, and what should the focus be?

Uy: When you have an agile team, especially when you’re working with any type of tech project, it requires a substantial focus on user experience. My wheelhouse is user experience, so I’m obviously going to place a lot of emphasis on that. To get user experience right requires a lot of research, and work with the product owner, business owner and analysts to find out what the end product should look like.

Walter: There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when constructing a CMS or building software for a client. How do you keep things running smoothly?

Uy: We work really closely together to define and identify how the processes should look and how to best make them more efficient from the end user point of view. Everything in terms of these decisions must balance business objectives and must also take into account the user experience and customer experience. 

There’s just so much that you want to address when it comes to putting together a successful product. But if you work closely with a team and can define your processes and pay attention to the key details, you’ll come away with a successful product and be happy with the total result.

Walter: How do you recharge outside of work?

Uy: I play the guitar to decompress. I’m also always trying to do a lot of reading. Singing, songwriting and jazz are all things that I enjoy. I’ve particularly been getting into a lot of jazz lately.