DesignOps: The Present and Future of Fintech



As per the Nielsen Norman Group, DesignOps refers to the orchestration and optimization of people, processes, and craft in order to amplify design’s value and impact at scale.

We’re in a design-first era where Design teams are expanding at a rapid pace. Naturally, so are the operational systems that manage them. As a result, visual design is more critical than ever before, implying that graphic designers have more work than ever.

This is especially true for FinTech, where design has a direct influence on revenue. It is common for Fintech companies to have more designers than developers, and demand continues to outpace supply.

The need for Design Management has become increasingly apparent as the profession matures. Moreover, as the pendulum swings towards having design play a central role in product success, Design Management is becoming an essential part of organizational structure.

In this blog, we’ll explore what exactly DesignOps is and how it can help Fintech companies.

What is DesignOps?

DesignOps is the practice of centralizing design activities within an organization. It’s essentially “design management”, which has evolved into a full-fledged discipline in its own right.

DesignOps is split up into three categories:

i. People: This involves creating efficient ways to integrate designers within an organization. These include hiring experienced managers, extending graphic design education by introducing design soft-skill training or simply investing in hiring top-quality designers.

ii. Process: DesignOps at this level is about establishing design teams and workflows to achieve optimal productivity, setting up design metrics, adopting design sprints, and implementing a scalable design system that can be applied across the entire organization.

iii. Technology: This includes designing tools for designers to improve their productivity. For example, deploying Agile software development methodologies in tandem with Lean UX principles to build a more comprehensive designer workflow.

Why is DesignOps important for Fintech?

Fintech is an industry where design plays a critical role in business success. The user experience of digital products has the power to make or break financial innovation.

The need for DesignOps comes from the sheer number of designers required to provide quality user experiences. But, unfortunately, more designers translate to more management overhead.

Furthermore, Fintech companies must adapt to increasing customer expectations. The rise of FinTech means that customers are becoming more discerning and taking a more holistic approach to assessing the quality of services. This increased emphasis on design is driving demand for DesignOps.

How can a Fintech company implement DesignOps?

Many argue that design is about creative freedom and should not be constrained by management. While the premise of “no rules” sounds good on paper, it’s counter-intuitive to maximizing designer productivity.

DesignOps doesn’t mean standardized workflows that stifle creativity and overall output. Instead, it consists of best practices backed up by data that make designers more efficient. Such procedures can be put in place company-wide to achieve maximum impact in Fintech. For example, creating a system of design metrics allows teams to track design performance and identify areas for improvement. This can be easily integrated with agile workflow management systems to provide real-time data on designer performance.

With that being said, here are some other DesignOps best practices that you can implement in Fintech:

1. Admit that you have a problem

Design is an integral part of Fintech and cannot be treated as a secondary concern. You need to form a cross-functional team that includes designers, developers, and management (such as CX and executives) and works together towards achieving shared goals.

You’ll need to set up Design Ops teams that consist of business analysts, project managers, and designers. Moreover, the goal is to ensure everyone has a shared purpose and is working towards the same goal: delivering successful products.

Implementing DesignOps frameworks will require constant communication between teams. This can be achieved through regular stand-ups, sprint planning meetings, and retrospective sessions. Therefore, it’s imperative to keep everyone in sync.

2. Don’t Use Design as a stick to beat developer with

Designers need to step out of their comfort zone and better understand how development works. However, it’s essential to adopt Agile methodologies (such as SCRUM) that promote open communication that transcends organizational boundaries. In some cases, this might also involve designers learning how to code.

DesignOps is a way of achieving excellence in design through management and process efficiencies. This requires data-driven decisions, adaptability to change, and nurturing a learning culture that values iterations over the status quo.

3. Build a Design System for Product Consistency

Design Systems are incredibly powerful tools that help designers and non-designers feel more confident in creating and working on new products.

It’s important to establish design guidelines around UI elements (such as color, typography, spacing), interaction patterns (such as how buttons behave), code style guides (such as which naming convention to adopt for variables), and style tiles (that establish the visual identity of the company).

Strengthening your Design System will encourage brand consistency, reduce design time through establishing conventions, and create a bank of reusable components that can be repurposed across multiple products.

4. Build an Integrated Design Toolkit

Design tools such as Adobe XD, Sketch, and Figma should be at the forefront of your design process. They enable fast prototyping and should be easy for developers to integrate into their projects.

Design tools can help designers better communicate with stakeholders and measure designs’ impact on customer interaction and conversions. This means that teams will need to learn how to use the tools in addition to mastering design patterns, principles, and strategies.

5. Train your team on DesignOps principles

One of the most demanding challenges is constantly iterating, constantly improving, and continually trying to be better at what you do. This requires a culture shift in all areas — from executive leadership to individual contributors across multiple departments. Therefore, training should focus on best practices in Product Management, UX Design, and Data Analysis (including customer interviews).

DesignOps is the way of the future in FinTech. By establishing standard processes in design and development, you can create synergies that benefit both teams. In addition, a clear understanding of shared values will make it easier to work together toward a common goal: delivering successful products that provide value to customers.

What is the Right Time to Implement DesignOps for FinTech?

Now is the right time.

Successful FinTech organizations are constantly evolving, adapting to new technologies, and seeking out the best practices to yield success. This requires collaboration amongst teams.

DesignOps is all about creating a culture that provides customers with great user experiences. However, it’s not just about design—it’s an overarching framework that helps improve product quality by constantly iterating on the process.

Many FinTech startups find that they can’t keep up with the fragmentation of their teams. However, having multiple teams working on different parts of a product (including design, development, and QA) means problems will arise: there isn’t enough communication between the teams.

If you are facing one or more of the following issues, it might be time to implement DeisgnOps in your FinTech startup:

1. You’re Using Multiple Tools for Design and Development:

This makes it challenging to keep track of changes and updates. There is a gap in communication, and it becomes harder to determine whether there is an absence of consistent design decisions.

2. Competing Priorities between Development & Design teams:

Product managers end up making compromises with designers that aren’t always in the product’s best interest. This is often the case when developers have to switch between projects and teams, leading to a lack of knowledge that compromises continuity from project to project.

3. Unclear Design Principles:

It’s hard to measure company success when you don’t know what it means for a design to be successful. Without clear principles, designers will make subjective decisions that can lead to inconsistencies in how the product is built.

4. No Design System:

Look at your design files, are they organized? Are there thousands of assets that are hard to locate and manage? This will cause confusion when trying to find specific assets for prototyping or development. There are no components that have been created for reuse — so designers end up spending too much time making similar components.

5. Difficulties Integrating with Backend Systems:

This is an issue that affects many FinTech organizations. If your design doesn’t integrate seamlessly with the backend system, you can experience data quality and security issues.

Final Words

Design is an ever-creative field with no boundaries. Hence, Design Teams must function at the same standard. DesignOps is the keystone to maintaining this standard across design disciplines and departments; ultimately, it is the measure that will help you get closer to fostering a single source of truth for your organization.

The keys to good Design Ops include:

I. Defining your workflow process (this could be manual or automated)

II. Design culture (team values, belonging, etc.)

III. Workplace satisfaction (quality of work-life)

IV. Workload management (incoming requests/task at hand)

V. Team structure (design disciplines and departments)

VI. Employee experience (employee expectations vs. reality)            

No matter the industry you operate in today, success in every department and domain depends on how quickly and efficiently you scale. And DesignOps gets you just that!

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