May 26, 2018
DesignOps at Nordkapp
With Sonja Krogius — Lead Designer at Nordkapp.
In your own terms, at a high level, how do you define or think about “DesignOps”?
DesignOps is a supportive function in an organization that enables designers to work efficiently, concentrate on design challenges and build a shared design culture. This is done by standardizing tools, methods, and processes and making work as collaborative as possible. It helps the organization scale design and increases the value of the investment put into the design.
What was the tipping point for you, where you realised this was something that was required and beneficial in your team/company? Was there anything that made you take notice and decide to venture down this DesignOps path? Or any early wins that made you pursue it further?
I’m a lead designer at Nordkapp, a Helsinki-based design studio. My client is Veikkaus, an exclusive right principle gambling provider that generates over one billion euros a year for the common good. Spring 2017, we received an assignment with my colleague to establish a design system with client’s own team. First, the work was about creating design principles, components and such, but it gradually expanded to re-defining the design process, ways-of-working and much more.
At this point, many parts of the organization (and other companies as well) started to show interest in our work and we did a roadshow to present it. Now we are working on making the platforms available for all in-house designers and developers interested. This way they can contribute to the project and we can spread the word in turn. My hunch is, that we will form a DesignOps team at some point and have centralized design work support.
How does DesignOps effect the efficiency/effectiveness of your day-to-day operations in the team as a whole, and more specifically in the design team? Where have you noticed the most improvements? (ie. Speed of work, frictionless of handovers, happiness of employees, quality/consistency of work etc).
We are aiming to reach all objectives mentioned above, but are still in the beginning of this journey. We see that designers around the company are getting to know each other and design culture is maturing. One obvious change has been increase in transparency. Design work is more shared and done together which makes designers happier.
We know from the past experiences that using a design system can reduce development work by 30% and we are aiming to reach that efficiency in the future with this project as well.
What does the tooling and flow/process look like for your design team (and development team - if applicable)?
We have defined our design process based on Stanford design thinking model. We use Design Sprints to start a project and work mostly in sprint mode.
What resources or influences have had the most impact on the way you approach your day to day operations in the DesignOps space? (This could be other companies, books, podcasts, articles, talks etc).
We learn by doing, but these are worth mentioning:
Books: Org Design for Design Orgs by Peter Merholz, Kristin Skinner
Companies: Pinterest, Airbnb, Shopify, InVision and other large companies with DesignOps in place.
What is something you believe, that most other people would think is crazy?
In 5 years, there will be as many designers as developers in product teams.