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  • Writer's pictureclara fairbanks

Lean Design Ops: Transforming Processes and Elevating Design Efficiency

Because our design team lacked a designated design operations person or resources, we consistently faced operational inefficiencies. Eager to assist the team and enhance my own workflow simultaneously, I embarked on a design operations mission.


My objectives included:

  • Enhanced Efficiency: Design Ops aims to streamline workflows, allowing designers to concentrate on creativity by minimizing administrative tasks.

  • Consistency and Quality: Design Ops guarantees uniform, high-quality designs, building trust and fostering recognition.

  • Effective Collaboration: Design Ops encourages cross-functional collaboration, aligning with organizational goals for successful outcomes.


To achieve these goals, my strategy involved:

  • Identifying Key Blockers: Pinpointing obstacles or bottlenecks in our team's working processes.

  • Ideation for Solutions: Generating potential solutions and defining initiatives to tackle the most critical barriers.

  • Mapping a Plan of Action: Outlining a step-by-step plan to progressively improve our processes.

  • Defining Metrics and KPIs: Establishing measurable metrics and key performance indicators for each initiative.


Identifying Opportunities: a workshop

As a proactive measure to pinpoint operational challenges and unearth opportunities within our workflow, I took the initiative to lead a comprehensive workshop. Gathering key members of the design team, we engaged in a collaborative session aimed at identifying pain points and untapped potentials. Through open discussions, structured exercises, and the collective sharing of experiences, we successfully unveiled areas of improvement and potential innovations. The workshop not only fostered a deeper understanding of our workflow dynamics but also laid the groundwork for targeted strategies to enhance efficiency and creativity within our design processes.


Defining the Key Initiatives

Following the insightful workshop, we distilled our discussions into concrete takeaways by defining key initiatives. Through a meticulous analysis of identified pain points and opportunities, we crafted actionable strategies to address the most critical aspects of our workflow. These initiatives, grounded in practicality and tailored to our team's specific needs, serve as a roadmap for positive change. By translating our collective insights into actionable steps, we're poised to make tangible improvements that promise to streamline processes, foster collaboration, and elevate the overall effectiveness of our design operations.



Defining KPIs and Metrics

For each initiative I defined KPIs and metrics to work towards iterative improvement.


Setting Quarterly Goals

Enlisting support from interested team members, we defined quarterly goals for each initiative and set out to make a plan of improvement and iterative assessment.


Taking Action

Step 1: assess our current process and ideate on solutions

Step 2: develop a clear developer handoff checklist




Step 3: update our dev ready file process



Step 4: add appropriate ceremonies and slack channels

I wont bore you with a screenshot of my calendar or slack here as I think that violates my work contract in 17 ways, but I will say that we were able to create collaborative slack channels and ceremonies and it was tremendously impactful


Step 5: clean up confluence




Next Steps...

Design Ops mission has marked a pivotal chapter in our team's evolution, addressing critical inefficiencies and setting the stage for positive transformation. With universal support from our Director of Design, the organization has embraced the process changes with enthusiasm. Notably, our collaborative efforts with product managers and engineers have resulted in the development of new functional processes, generating excitement for the impending updates and process improvements. As we enter the next phase, we plan to dedicate a quarter to assess the changes implemented. This evaluation will be conducted both qualitatively and quantitatively, aiming to gauge the impact on our performance and efficiency. Armed with valuable insights, we are committed to making iterative Design Ops improvements as a cohesive team, ensuring a continuous journey toward operational excellence and enhanced creative outcomes.




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