DesignOps, also known as Design Operations, is a term used to describe the strategies, processes, and practices that organizations use to manage and improve the design function.
In other words, DesignOps is all about making sure that an organization’s design team has the resources, support, and processes they need to do their best work.
The term “DesignOps” was first coined by the design consultancy firm Hot Studio, which used it to describe its approach to managing design teams and projects. Since then, the term has become more widely adopted and is now used by organizations of all sizes to describe their approach to managing their design function.
One of the key goals of DesignOps is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization’s design team. This can be achieved through a variety of means, including implementing standardized processes and tools, providing design team members with the training and support they need to succeed, and building a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement within the design team.
DesignOps can also help organizations to align their design strategy with their overall business goals and objectives. By providing a framework for managing the design function, DesignOps can help organizations ensure that their design team is working on projects that are aligned with the organization’s broader goals and objectives. This can help organizations to achieve better outcomes from their design efforts and to create more value for their customers.
One of the key challenges of implementing DesignOps is the need to balance the often-competing demands of creativity and efficiency. On the one hand, design teams need to be given the freedom and flexibility to explore new ideas and to push the boundaries of what is possible.
However, organizations also need to ensure that their design team is working in a way that is efficient and effective. This can require striking a delicate balance between supporting creativity and innovation, and implementing processes and structures that help the design team to work efficiently and effectively.
To effectively implement DesignOps, organizations need to take a holistic approach that takes into account the unique needs and challenges of their design team. This can include identifying the key areas where the design team needs support, developing processes and tools that help the design team to work efficiently and effectively, and providing design team members with the training and support they need to succeed.
Key steps in the DesignOps process
Define the design process: This includes establishing clear guidelines and standards for how design projects are initiated, planned, executed, and delivered.
Identify and select tools and technologies: This includes choosing design software, project management tools, and other technologies that will help streamline the design process and improve collaboration.
Provide resources and support for designers: This includes ensuring that designers have access to the tools, training, and support they need to do their jobs effectively.
Organize design teams: This includes creating teams that are focused on design excellence and that are structured in a way that promotes collaboration and communication.
Align design with business strategy: This includes making sure that design goals are aligned with business objectives and that design considerations are included in decision-making processes at all levels of the organization.
Measure and track design performance: This includes establishing metrics to track the effectiveness of design efforts and using this data to continuously improve the design process.
DesignOps key roles
In a DesignOps implementation, depending on the organization, the structure, and many other factors, there are several key roles that may be involved:
DesignOps lead: This person is responsible for overseeing the DesignOps process and ensuring that it is aligned with the overall business strategy. They may also be responsible for identifying and implementing tools and technologies that can improve the design process.
Design team lead: This person is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the design team and ensuring that designers have the resources and support they need to do their jobs effectively.
Designers: These are the individuals who are responsible for creating and executing design work.
Project manager: This person is responsible for managing the overall project timeline and ensuring that all project tasks are completed on time and on budget.
Stakeholders: These are the individuals or groups that have an interest in the design process and its outcomes. This may include executives, business leaders, and customers.
The specific responsibilities of each role may vary depending on the needs of the organization and the specific goals of the DesignOps implementation.
DesignOps best practices
DesignOps best practices are the guidelines and strategies that organizations follow to ensure that their design teams are operating effectively and efficiently. Some common best practices include:
- Establishing clear design processes and standards: This includes defining how design projects are initiated, planned, executed, and delivered, as well as establishing guidelines for design work (e.g., design principles, and style guides).
- Implementing design tools and technologies: This includes using design software, project management tools, and other technologies to streamline the design process and improve collaboration.
- Providing resources and support for designers: This includes providing designers with the tools, training, and support they need to do their jobs effectively, such as access to research and testing facilities.
- Building design-focused teams: This includes organizing design teams to promote collaboration, communication, and a focus on design excellence.
- Ensuring the design is integrated into the overall business strategy: This includes aligning design goals with business objectives and making sure that design considerations are included in decision-making processes at all levels of the organization.
- Measuring and tracking design performance: This includes establishing metrics to track the effectiveness of design efforts and using this data to improve the design process continuously.
Common mistakes implementing DesignOps
There are several common mistakes that organizations may make when implementing DesignOps:
Failing to involve designers in the design of the DesignOps process: It is important to involve designers in the creation of the DesignOps process, as they are the ones who will be most affected by it. Failing to involve them may result in a process that is not practical or effective.
Neglecting to establish clear roles and responsibilities: Without clear roles and responsibilities, it can be difficult for designers to know who is responsible for what, leading to confusion and inefficiency.
Failing to provide adequate resources and support: Designers need access to the tools, training, and support they need to do their jobs effectively. If these are not provided, it can negatively impact the design process.
Not aligning DesignOps with the overall business strategy: It is important to ensure that the DesignOps process is aligned with the overall business strategy, as this will help to ensure that design efforts are focused on achieving business objectives.
Not measuring and tracking design performance: Without tracking and measuring the effectiveness of design efforts, it is difficult to know whether the DesignOps process is working and to identify areas for improvement.
Not being flexible and adaptable: The design process is constantly evolving, and the DesignOps process needs to be able to adapt and change in response to new challenges and opportunities. Failing to be flexible can lead to stagnation and inefficiency.
Overall, DesignOps is a crucial component of any successful design function. By providing a framework for managing the design team and aligning the design strategy with business goals, DesignOps can help organizations to create more value for their customers and achieve better outcomes from their design efforts.
If you’re interested in learning more about DesignOps please check out the DesignOpps handbook from the InVision team, is free and for sure will be very helpful for you.