Why You Should Be Paying Attention to DesignOps


One of the major problems with software development is that there is a tendency for coders and implementers to forget about design and assume that it will be done afterwards. Like any project in any field, it is generally better to incorporate design considerations into the initial planning stages to achieve the best results.

The Evolution of Software Project Management

Not too long ago, waterfall-based development was the principal disciple in the development of software projects. Waterfall is a sequential software development process, where progress flows steadily toward the conclusion, like a waterfall, through the phases of a project, notably analysis, design, development and testing

However, with the emergence of agile development all that has changed. Agile involves discovering requirements and developing solutions through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customer(s)/end user(s). It also applies to the design of software and, with it, the emergence of DesignOps. In this case, according to the Nielsen Norman Group, DesignOps refers to the orchestration and optimization of people, processes, and craft in order to amplify design’s value and impact at scale. DesignOps is a collective term for addressing challenges like growing and evolving design teams, for example. But, what does it really mean?

Christian Velitchkov of Los Angeles-based Twiz.io says the real value of DesignOps lies in what it can bring to the wider DevOps team. The goal of a DevOps team is to provide a fast, stable infrastructure. With DesignOps, designers can collaborate with engineering, marketing, business, product managers holistically and efficiently.

When DevOps practices are successfully adopted, business requirements are met faster and are more dependable. This also applies to the DesignOps elements of development. Rather than a standard or framework, it is a collaboration between several organizations that has enhanced the ability to integrate, modify, and change code streams continuously.

“We might wonder why DevOps instead of Waterfall and Agile? DevOps is not a replacement for Agile, which was designed to replace the Waterfall model and other Scrum practices, he said. “It is, however, a direct successor to Agile. Over time, Agile has become more challenging, and in the end, DevOps has proven most effective. A DevOps practice accelerates the delivery of scalable, reliable code.” It is here that enterprises should be placing their DesignOps efforts.

Related Article: Is the Hybrid Workplace the Future of Work?

How DesignOps Can Improve Design Teams

Jitendra Thethi, VP for technology and innovation for France-based multinational information technology services and consulting company Capgemini Engineering, said, DesignOps aims to continuously build and improve design teams to support the orchestration of individuals, processes and tools to enhance creativity. It has revolutionized the development process with an agile, iterative approach and it allows organizations to rapidly scale and replicate successful design processes across teams.

The sweet spot for DesignOps is at the intersection of digital transformation, design thinking, customer experience and agile product delivery. It’s not just a standardized methodology to adopt — because the idea of the lone wolf genius designer is dead. Today, DesignOps is about holistically enabling high-performance collaboration between designers and their partners like engineering, marketing, business and product managers. “DesignOps is great at unlocking the power of design in organizations to build a long-lasting, commercially viable future,” he said. “DesignOps not only helps companies to leapfrog the competition and get their products and services to market fast — but they can get to market with the right thing that actually builds durable customer relationships that really matter.”

Optimizing Processes With DesignOps

In sum, DesignOps refers to optimizing processes and teams to enhance the impact and value of design at scale, according to Brad Touesnard, founder and CEO of Canada-based SpinupWP. DesignOps designs, plans, and manages the design process and takes care of operations, resource allocation, and logistics. This allows us to increase the efficiency of our design team and enhance the quality of their output.

The result, he said, is that DesignOps helps designers manage increasingly high volumes of work with streamlined workflows and appropriate tools.  “DesignOps connects our design team with the rest of our organization and ensures they are not kept out of the loop,” he added. The overriding benefit of DesignOps is to safeguard the time of our design team so they can do what they’re best at without interruptions or distractions.

Michael Varga, senior UX/UI designer at Creative Navy UX Agency

Streamlining Workflows

Digital product organizations are emerging ecosystems in which the interplay of the component parts and their relationship to the whole needs to be optimized continuously. DesignOps is a new concept that addresses this Michael Varga, senior UX/UI designer at UK-based Creative Navy UX Agency believes. While the design community is still trying to define it, its perceived value is undeniable, seeing how it emerged organically from the challenges within organizations. As product teams start to scale in size, their processes need to improve in terms of speed and quality of execution while supporting cross-functional operations.

“DesignOps are meant to generate high-quality design by developing a set of centralized procedures and best-practices focusing on workflow, team, and delivery, while reducing operational inefficiencies and friction,” he said.

The heart of DesignOps is effectively streamlining the flows between design, research, product and engineering. It is also concerned with user-centricity and finding opportunities to improve both the process and the deliverables.

“Hopefully this will not lead to the development of procedures for the sake of procedures, as tends to happen much too often within organizations. DesignOps should make teams run better. There’s literally no reason for any type of additional process other than increased effectiveness,” he added. “It is fair to say that DesignOps has the potential to be a significant stage in the evolution of the digital product ecosystem and not just another buzzword.”

DesignOps In UX

DesignOps, said Mark Troester Progress VP of Strategy at Bedford, Mass.-based Progress, is critical in creating a seamless atmosphere for UX. Speed and continuous delivery, much like with DevOps, demonstrates the value of business impact. Forward thinking DesignOps practitioners don’t just think about the design team, but holistically about how the application connects cross-functionally.

This includes developers, security experts, IT Ops, and data analysts within the organization. Design is critical in terms of context switching because in today’s world of devices, designs have to adjust across environments such web, mobile, desktop, wearables or kiosk experiences and the developer becomes integral to this process when writing code.

DevOps generated a new set of operating standards in developmental practices and now DesignOps is doing the same. “Great applications prioritize the user experience and when leveraged properly, DesignOps efforts can drive significant business value including increased marketing and sales effectiveness through more fulfilling customer interactions and strong brand equity,” he said.

In order to give value and generate an impact through design, generating solutions that are scalable in the long-run organizations are now turning to DesignOps, Luna Pereyra of Octobot concludes. As a result, it is important that the design team is involved from the very first moment in software development projects, which results in a broader perspective enabling decisions that really improve the products and offer real solutions to the users.

She points out that organizations need to manage the rapidly increasing complexities of digital products by scaling the design and applying user-centered methodologies, which has also contributed to our internal organization. It’s about organizing how we work together and the impact we generate

“Overall, DesignOps is very broad and encompasses everything, from building a good team to creating collaborative spaces and scalable design systems,” she said. “It is about building bridges between disciplines, standardizing practices and coordinating teams so that everything flows in the best possible way, and everyone is always willing to adapt along the way, since change is the only certainty.”

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