What is DesignOps? DesignOps overview, explanation, and FAQs.

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What is DesignOps? 

DesignOps or design operations is the range of methods or a mindset of assimilating workflow of the design team with the broader backdrop of product development

The operations involve design team expansion, workflow design, design, and design team’s impact analysis, and enhancement. The practice is concerned with building well-refined designs that are in tune with the overall product management processes

DesignOps is a blanket term that refers to responsibilities like design team expansion, design project allotment, recruitment of designers, assessment of the impact of design, and design teams. 

Basically, it is used to refer to any user-centric process of design thinking. Thus the UX designers, researchers,  strategists, service designers basically all the design departments are subjects of design ops. 

DesignOps helps the designers in ways that reduce the workload of management-related tasks and allows them to address the problem-solving assistants. 

The DesignOps supports designers to scale up the production by combining design processes and tools, without compromising on team dynamics. 

It strengthens interdepartmental relations by alignment of design goals with organizational strategies and ideology. 

The practical role of DesignOps is to plan and regulate the work of design teams and ensure the alignment of design with the entire product development cycle. 

Importance of DesignOps

When dealing with a bigger workforce of designers, it is required to pay special attention to the issues and challenges of management, and coordination of the human resource as well as the management of various design projects. Design operations work on this aspect and help to free the designers from the excessive workload of management of workflows and design libraries. 

For a relatively smaller business also there is a need for a design operations manager to run the design departments smoothly and without friction with other departments of engineering and product development. Or for small businesses with lesser designers and employees, it can also be worked out without hiring a manager for design operations and inculcating the design ops methods into the organization. Operating this way will help the business to grow with pace and build a strong foundation at the organizational level. 

Blending DesignOps into the work environment 

To incorporate design ops culture into your work environment you need to make changes and shifts in your team’s ideologies. It is to make design an embedded part of the product development life cycle. 

You need to study the design team methods and workflows in order to estimate the resources and time required for development cycles and alignment of the design operations with the backdrop of your overall development cycles and schedules. 

Manage the time and schedules of engineering teams with design teams, basically to figure out who will pass on the work to whom and when. Like at a certain stage the developers will have to send the product work to design and at that point, the concerned design must be in the condition to take up that work. 

Benefits of DesignOps 

  • It helps to establish proper communication between cross-functional teams of designers and product development teams. 
  • It helps product managers to clear or avoid hold ups and delays that arise due to non alignment of schedules between design and engineering or development teams. It ensures coordination of schedules and releases so that all the processes are on track.
  • It facilitates the effective allocation of staff and capital for all the design projects. The design ops manager has to figure out the number of designers required for a project, manage the release schedules. 
  • Through design ops the weaknesses and hindrances can be ironed out more efficiently. 

Elements of design operations

Operations Management: Preparing the design roadmap that includes long and short-term goals and the methods to achieve the targets. 

Process design: Creating design systems, frameworks, and layout of design tools. 

Project management: Allocation of projects and marking out timelines and deadlines. 

Communication strategy: The communication link between the design teams and other departments of the company is the design ops manager. This communication helps in ensuring smooth workflow between design and other departments. 

Onboarding designers: Hiring and training new designers. 

Building design team culture: Organizing sessions for the design teams for skill development and growth. Providing mentorship and support to the designers. 

Budget allocation 

Legal: Collaborating with the legal department for NDAs and participant release forms.

Procurement process management: Working with the procurement team to simplify the decision-making process for design-related purchases.

IT and Security: Collaboration with the IT team to create the technological framework and secure the design toolset. 

FAQs 

Q: What is DesignOps? 

A: DesignOps is a mindset or modus operandi that supports the designers to target problem solving and frees them from workflow management and other administrative responsibilities. It integrates the workflow of the design team with the broader backdrop of product development. 

Q: How to carry out design team management?

A: (i) Conduct regular one-to-one meetings with the team members to get to know them better and discuss the company’s motives, ideologies, short term, and long term goals, and strategies.
(ii) Distribute the projects based on the member’s skill set and strengths.
(iii) management of conflicts.
(iv) define roles, identify the member’s creativity and passion.
(v) Appreciate, guide, and motivate the team. 

Q: How do you implement DesignOps? 

A: (i) Identify the practical issues and trouble spots faced in the design department across all the teams and partners.
(ii) Define the role of design operations for all the particular sets of issues.
(iii) Prioritization of targets and plan measures to achieve those targets in a given time. The major questions that are to be answered are- how to ensure collaboration, how to manage the design work, and what is the impact of the design team’s efforts.

Q: What is the role of design ops management? 

A: The domain of roles and responsibilities of DesignOps management is very wide-ranged. It mainly includes operations management, process design, project management, developing a communication strategy, onboarding new staff, organizing workshops and training sessions for design teams, budget allocation, and control, managing the procurement process.

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