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What are the enabling factors in the DesignOps role?

As companies increasingly prioritize user-centric design and product innovation, the demand for DesignOps professionals is on the rise. According to the 2022 State of DesignOps report, the ratio of designers to design operators has shifted to 25:1, indicating a significant growth in demand.  Although it is still relatively low, the trend is expected to continue.

 

In this blog post, we'll explore five key enabling factors that contribute to the success of DesignOps. From leadership support to cross-functional collaboration, tools, and technology to processes and workflows, and data-driven decision-making – each factor plays a crucial role in empowering DesignOps practitioners to excel in their roles.

Let’s discuss a few enabling factors in the DesignOps role –

1. Buy-in from senior leadership

Collaboration is key within any organization, and a design leader can only do so much on their own. At some point, getting executive buy-in becomes a necessity. Showing how UX design ideas make the organization stronger can help win over executives.

In the DesignOps community, most of the members from large enterprises such as Salesforce, Airbnb, IBM have seen the growing support of senior executives for the DesignOps role. For anyone interested in learning more about this topic, we recommend reading some interesting case studies here.


DesignOps uses data to tell compelling stories of Outcomes, Measurements & ROIs. This helps push the executives to see the value of design thinking across business units—not just on the design team.

By communicating early, using data, and incorporating techniques to weave stakeholder feedback early in the process will help ensure that every digital initiative can deliver a superior customer experience without compromising business goals.

 In our experience, some organizations, have established a role of chief of staff that reports to the design and business leadership on various operational & strategic aspects. This dedicated role that collates data & information from across the organization has been found to be key to convincing senior leadership of the value of designops role.

 

2. Building cross-collaboration relationships

As design becomes more embedded in every part of a business, the need for cross-functional collaboration becomes increasingly important. Tools can certainly help, but good communication, feedback loops, and strong leadership should be the foundation on which you build relationships. DesignOps plays a pivotal role in building a culture of cross-functional collaboration to keep up with the pace of change demanded by business and user needs.

Design is a shared responsibility, and an effective DesignOps team is critical for efficacious cross-functional collaboration because it unlocks potential learning opportunities we wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

 

3. Processes and Workflows

Processes and workflows are vital components of any successful DesignOps role. They provide structure, consistency, and efficiency to the design process. By defining clear processes and establishing efficient workflows, DesignOps teams can streamline their operations and ensure that projects run smoothly from start to finish. The role requires a process-oriented approach for activities like hiring, onboarding, managing processes, events, reporting, budgeting, etc. One needs to establish, monitor & continuously improve to change the mindset & culture of the company.

One key aspect of processes and workflows is having a standardized project intake process. This includes clearly defined steps for gathering project requirements, setting expectations with stakeholders, and prioritizing work based on business goals. By having a well-defined intake process in place, DesignOps teams can effectively manage incoming requests and allocate resources accordingly.

Well-defined processes and efficient workflows are essential enabling factors in the DesignOps role. They provide structure, facilitate collaboration between teams involved in the design process, promote continuous improvement through feedback loops, enhance communication channels within the team and with stakeholders outside of it, and establish transparency by documenting best practices.


4. Data and Metrics 

 In today's digital age, data plays a crucial role in decision-making. DesignOps is no exception to this rule. By utilizing data and metrics, DesignOps teams can assess their processes' effectiveness, identify improvement areas, and demonstrate the value they bring to an organization.

Data-driven insights allow DesignOps professionals to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) such as cycle time, resource allocation, and design process success rates. This information enables them to make informed decisions about resource planning, budgeting, and process optimization.

By embracing a culture of measurement and using data-driven insights effectively, organizations can unlock significant growth opportunities through enhanced design operations practices.

 

5. LeveragingDesignOps Community 

While Design teams have been growing and scaling fast in the past few years, designOps has also seen an increase in the number of design-related roles and development in the number of operational models applied to run the Design function. As this demand increases, a small community of DesignOps leaders is evolving very rapidly. 

As it turns out, one of the secrets to building healthy, people-centered programming is to leverage the power of DesignOps. From hosting gatherings and lectures to publishing educational and personal perspectives, efforts to contribute to this creative community in meaningful ways help people connect, learn, and grow together. 

We’ve seen how the positive and lasting effects of strong DesignOps communities can help our team become more connected, creative, and inclusive.

 

Conclusion

Prioritizing DesignOps will radically improve the value of your entire design team’s output. Be sure to measure as you go, adjust as you learn, and be as inclusive as possible when increasing the scale and distribution of your operations.