Design Operations: What Is It and How to Improve Your Design Workflow and Operations

This guide covers what is 'Design Operations' mean and offer tips and strategies for optimizing your design workflow and operations.

Introduction

Design Operations are one of the methods that help in the smooth planning of the strategies and plans that help the entire team of the organization to carry on with the processes of work or the workflow and carry out the operations in a smooth way.

What are Design Operations?

DesignOps or Design Operations are the optimizations of the design processes, people, and technologies that help to improve the design of the products and business value. It involves building a team of people who have the right and required skills and a common purpose, who can reduce operational faults, and building efficient design workflows.

Design Operations is either an individual, or a whole department that is responsible for the planning, defining, and managing of the entire design process that takes place within a company. The people undertaking such operations may not be designers by trade but their goal is simply to streamline the design, remove any technical inefficiencies and failures, and enable the designers to get it done with the research that they need and the tools to make it successful.

They also help in growing and evolving the design teams by making a structured workflow. The leads of design operations generally manage projects, budgets, and hiring and it is not necessary that their job has to be designed. They help to improve the quality of the designs that are being produced by allowing the designers to do what they feel is the best for the success of the operations.

In the past, designers had to do multiple tasks. They had to do the research, write stories, wireframe, and so on. DesignOps are not an isolated, 'design-team-only' exercise reserved only for design organizations but it requires lots of information that are shared with other stakeholders. The designers have to follow a set of practices to enhance the quality of the interactions, focus on the completion of effective goals, and have free time for other initiatives.

How do Design Operations work? (People, business, and workflow)

There are three different operational areas of focus when conducting Design Operations. These are people, business, and workflow. 

  • People operations focus on ensuring that each designer has a clear career path, addresses skills gaps and faults, and help the team to build a world-class design team.

  • Business operations focus on securing the proper budget for the design team and supplying the required equipment to them, like creative software, and so on, for the team to succeed.

  • Workflow operational management helps in setting up the proper design management software and focuses on the different areas of research, processes involved, and creative production flow of work processes.

Importance of Design Operations

Designing projects is an extremely complicated, lengthy, and brain-consuming process and the designers who design projects and are responsible for the workflow are generally busy, trying to get through the pile of work along with these, they have to also sit in meetings, drown in emails and get lost in mundane tasks. DesignOps is a smooth way of handling these tasks as it helps the designers to solve the common point of this issue. The more the companies need the design for their projects, the more they need DesignOps. This is why great business firms and their in-house teams embrace the process of delivering unique designs at the scale of the required market demands. But not every company or creative department is in a state to face the financial and organizational commitments and requirements that the Design Operation teams require. This process simplifies the design and one can also design a process that simplifies the overall setup.

Tips to improve Design workflow and operations

The tips to improve Design workflow and operations are mentioned below:

1) Checking the efficiency of design processes

Organizations use several product designs and development methods. Some organizations may follow the Design Thinking process, while others may focus on the Design Sprints given on Google. The most important thing to take care of is to check that one applied the best methodology in the market. With the help of DesignOps, one can find and eliminate inefficiencies and drawbacks present in the design workflow. This enables the design team to achieve better results in less amount of time and with limited resources. As a result, optimization of work and team performance is important so that one can avoid unnecessary hiring and wastage of resources.

2) Using tools for effective remote product design collaborations

To make collaborations easier and more effective, it is extremely important to equip the designers and other product development team members with the proper set of tools. This leads to a better and more organized process of operations that will ensure that the work is getting carried on in a better way to ensure the success of operations.

3) Establishing collaboration routines

Collaboration routines, such as daily standups or weekly meetings, are usually performed by teams to encourage the designers to share the regular status of work and keep on updating with the latest information and to ensure that they need any kind of support. 

4) Making sure that all the designers have a clear career path for progression

Design Operation practices can help people to tackle challenges by simply creating clear guidelines for career development paths. As the design process matures, the team can get access to perform more specialized roles that would ultimately enable the designers to acquire new skills. Along with these, the more experienced individuals will get the opportunity to get promoted to more senior roles in the operation. This would ensure the proper view of what is to be achieved and what is not required.

5) Encouraging the designers to work collaboratively

It is very important to work in collaboration with other designers. As all the members of the organization are part of the team-building process, it is extremely important to note that the team members work hand-in-hand with each other and promote more organizational outcomes by working together as a part of the team.

6) Setting clear goals for the design team

It is extremely important to communicate the company's or project's goals as this acts as a great motivator for the entire design team. This ultimately helps them to understand the significance of their contribution to the work processes. 

7) Creating a cross-team information-sharing system

Removing misunderstandings and arguments is the top most important reason for building out the information-sharing system as a part of the Design Operation strategy. This would help in the effective communication of the entire team so that there is accurate information in the hands of everyone and this would ensure the carrying out of the task operations in a better way.

8) Considering the creation of a shared vocabulary

Design teams should adopt a set of guidelines and a common design language to retain consistency across all their projects. This would ensure smooth coordination among the different groups of teams within the same organization as well as between team members of each team within the same organization and this would ensure better productivity of the work operations to generate better output.

List of Design Operations Tools that one needs to get started with:

The tools are the devices that one can use to enable the process of workflow. The list of tools for the Design Are listed below:

  • Communication tools include tools like Slack, Teams, and even Google Chat.

  • Project management tools include Asana, Trello, or Monday.

  • Planning tools help one to understand the needs of the customers, define upcoming opportunities and solve problems. With a more distributed team, one can look at Milanote and Mural.

  • User research tools start with UserTesting, Respondent.io, or Typeform which help to ask questions and gather information. One can use Calendly to schedule the meetings. Maze is a user-testing platform that generates reports from Figma, Invision, and Sketch.

  • Asset Management tools like Excel or Sheets but one can also look at Airtable with the templates that help to search and categorize user research participants. One can also need a repository to quickly access all the past designs and the information of the places where they have been used.

  • Design Suite tools include something from Adobe. One can also check out Sketch for UX design, Invision, or Figma for creating interactive mockups in designing.

  • Capacity management tools include the use of freelancers or an agency, but a reliable, ready-to-roll subscription service like Superside helps one to hand off the work to keep the team focused on the big projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) How do I get started with DesignOps?

One can first hire and start tabulating the small wins. This demonstrates the value of the DesignOps across the entire organization. This ensures that one is taking meeting notes with action items, hosting a weekly visual status update to show the designers' ongoing work and the works they have done previously, and also helps in reaching out across the functional departments to understand the competing needs in a better way and to demonstrate how DesignOps is improving the different workflows. One can start to create a demand for this role so that, six months after its implementation, one can prove the ROI in one go. The key questions that need to get answered include the following:

  1. Are our teams appropriately resourced?
  2. Is money being tracked effectively?
  3. Is cross-functional collaboration happening?
  4. Is design no longer a blocker?
  5. Are our designers thriving?

One can try any application that would suit the requirements for the same.

2) Why do we need DesignOps?

Designing projects is an extremely complicated, lengthy, and brain-consuming process and the designers who design projects and are responsible for the workflow are generally busy, trying to get through the pile of work along with these, they have to also sit in meetings, drown in emails and get lost in mundane tasks. DesignOps is a smooth way of handling these tasks as it helps the designers to solve the common point of this issue. The more the companies need the design for their projects, the more they need DesignOps. This is why great business firms and their in-house teams embrace the process of delivering unique designs at the scale of the required market demands.

Stop force-fitting your mission-control processes to standard solutions. Discover how.

What you get:

👉 Gain real time visibility and control
👉 Go live in weeks
👉 Customize to fit your ops
👉 Use only what you need, we do not disrupt your existing flows

What happens next?

1. We schedule a call as per your calendar
2. We discover what use cases ZORP can solve
3. We prepare a proposal

By submitting this form, you will receive information, tips, and promotions from ZORP. To learn more, see our Privacy policy.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Latest blog posts

Inventory Management in the age of generative AI

A practical overview of how best to approach inventory management and how to choose the right technology to manage it
Bala Panneerselvam
April 6, 2024

On-Time Order Fulfillment: Your one metric for e-commerce success

Metrics are tricky. I like to keep them simple. Here's why I think the single most important metric for an e-commerce business is On Time Fulfillment %.
Bala Panneerselvam
March 14, 2024

The ultimate guide to Business Process Automation - BPM

Take a look at this comprehensive guide that shows what is BPA, why it's important and how to implement it right.
Bala Panneerselvam
February 23, 2024