To be successful with your design team you need to invest in DesignOps. Find out how you can use it.

What is DesignOps?

What is it?
DesignOps (Design Operations) refers to the optimization of design processes, people, and technologies to improve the product’s design and business value. Among others, it is about orchestrating of teams with the right skills and common purpose, reducing operational inefficiencies, such as miscommunication or silos, and building efficient design workflows. 

Why design operations?
Business and customer requirements are becoming more complex. The challenge to keep up with expectations also accelerates product development life cycles. And, as teams try to keep up with a growing workload, there’s the risk of miscommunication among designers and developers. 

Teams might work in isolation on the basis of inconsistent requirements, which negatively affects the user experience. DesignOps practices help companies overcome these bottlenecks and create harmony between design and development teams. 

Focus Areas

The main role is to protect the time of the design team so that they can work without obstacles or distractions. Here is how it plays out day-to-day:

Design team roadmap with milestones & goals / Headcount assessment of the design team to identify skill gaps

Design process planning and management / Design systems creation / Tool landscape creation / Collaboration framework for teams, clients, and stakeholders

Project management 
Project assignments with workflows and timelines / Organizing and running design sprints and daily stand-ups

Communication strategy
Evangelizing the value of design / Communicating with product managers and product development teams

Hiring of new staff, such as UI and/or UX designers

Culture building
Moderation and organization of workshops and training / Professional and emotional support for designers

Estimates and budget
Talking about people, timings, and costs 

IT & Security
Technological roadmap of design team / Ensurement of compatibility and security of design tools

How to improve your operations

With the above in mind, let’s now talk about some tips that will help you improve design operation practices.

1. Let your designers focus on designing
Some companies still expect designers to play multiple roles. While this approach might be effective in a small team or a startup -  it’s not a scalable approach. In the long run, burdening designers with other tasks will harm the quality of their work.

2. Check the efficiency of your process
Make sure you’re applying the best product design and development method out there. With DesignOps, you can find and eliminate inefficiencies in the design workflow. Your design team will achieve more with less time and resources.

3. Focus on effective remote product design collaborations
While, at small organizations, collaboration between designers might happen organically, it’s not the case with larger/remote teams. To collaborate effectively, equip your designers with the right set of tools. 

4. Establish collaboration routines
Create open collaboration flow, such as daily standups or weekly meetings, and encourage your designers to share regular status updates and ask for support. 

5. Make a career path
While hiring people with the right skill set is not an easy task, retaining them is even harder. DesignOps practices can help to tackle these challenges by creating clear career development paths. 

6. Work collaboratively
In DesignOps, designers work collaboratively to enhance the efficiency of the design work and to reduce errors.

7. Set goals 
Clearly communicating the company’s or project’s goals can act as a great motivator for the design team. After all, it helps them to understand the significance of their contribution. 

8. Create an information-sharing system
building out information-sharing systems to remove silos. You’ll be able to proactively identify and rectify problems with minimum impact on the end-users.

9. Create a shared vocabulary
A typical content marketing team has a set of editorial guidelines they follow which helps them communicate effectively, and retain the right communication standard. Design teams should adopt a set of guidelines and a common design language to retain consistency across all their projects.


Micha Brandt
Düsseldorf, Germany

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