DesignOps refers to the process of managing a design team. A DesignOps effort can help to standardize design approaches, documentation, meetings, work organization, and business practices. Standardizing design may sound boring, but DesignOps is far from it. In fact, DesignOps provides a team with organizational and functional principles that help manage their work in a productive, effective, and consistent manner, no matter the project.

How a team uses DesignOps varies depending on the pain points the business experiences within their design development and management process. DesignOps is self-defined and unique to each design organization. 

This guide provides background information on DesignOps, how it works, and best practices to implement these processes successfully to improve a design team’s collaboration and productivity. We’ll review: 

  • What is DesignOps?
  • How is DesignOps implemented?
  • How can DesignOps improve the design process?

What is DesignOps & Why is it important?

A DesignOps team solves pain points regarding design team management and deliverables. DesignOps provides a structure that helps designers create a consistent, unique, and reliable product. 

 DesignOps addresses team management challenges, including: 

  • Team growth
  • Hiring designers with necessary skills
  • Creating efficient and organized business processes or workflows
  • Improving the quality of team deliverables for greater impact

The goal of adopting DesignOps is to establish standardized team processes that are scalable even as the number of designers, work tasks, and projects grows. 

Why standardize? We know that the tasks required of each designer grow in complexity and number as projects continue. Plus, as businesses separate team members based on customers or products, the importance of standardization increases. Managing individual team members on distributed teams is more difficult when teams don’t have defined processes. 

Tips for Implementing DesignOps

Adopting the DesignOps model involves putting together a project plan that lists team goals, work processes, and standards for work deliverables. Before getting started, the design team should meet and discuss how to create their version of DesignOps. 

Start by understanding the DesignOps menu, which includes a list of elements to support the design team. Basically, the team defines how they’ll work together both internally (on the team) and externally (when working alongside other teams) by selecting options from the menu. 

The DesignOps menu includes: 

  • Defining the organizational team structure
  • Defining the role of the design team
  • Defining the designer’s role within the design team
  • Developing meeting plans and standardized agendas
  • Ensuring employees are treated as humans and not machines
    • Developing practices to support design team members
    • Hiring and onboarding practices to train new team members
    • Creating transparent career paths
  • Creating team rules regarding work products and processes
    • Defining the use of consistent tools and procedures
    • Documenting workflow processes from initial design to final design delivery
    • Building data repositories for user research
    • Providing software tools that enable designers to share assets and templates
    • Creating options for team member input on design workflows for continuous improvement
    • Developing an accurate work estimation system to avoid taking on too much work

DesignOps can help you more effectively manage your design teams. By incorporating team ideas and making team-based decisions on standard design practices and workflows, team members stay engaged. Well-defined, transparent rules and team structures enable team members to work together positively and with an emphasis on personal growth. DesignOps methods provide the design team a base for success both individually and as a team.