Standardizing tools and process will only lead to increased alignment and productivity.
Lots of times, the reason gaps between design, development, and the business exist is because there isn’t a clearly outlined process. The handsoffs are cold.
The Big Picture
Whether it is coming from direct usage metrics, customer focus groups, or realizations during the product lifecycle - the team needs to come together to identify a course of action. Once a roadmap and some paths forward are outlined, getting buy-in from the business and planning the implementation will need to take place. The strategy and planning effort will vary, depending on the size of the initiative or change.
When we have customers using our products, we are able to better understand where the areas for opportunity, change, and expansion are. We always place the customer at the center of the process, and it’s here where everyone comes together for clarity; the product owners, the designers, the engineers, and the business.
Now that there is a strategy mapped out, it’s time to incorporate a lean, agile, and iterative process. During research, design, and development, it is our responsibility to constantly test and validate concepts with customers - as well as to make sure that there is constant collaboration between all disciplines involved.
Having a successful design organization is about creating a rhythm between business, design, and development.
Leading with research, strategy, and design is essential. Aligning the core business objectives with the needs of customers is what makes up the bulk of the ‘North Star’ initiative, and development/architecture planning must happen in order to bring everything to life. Tactically, front-loading design enables the development team to effectively plan and point their stories accordingly - gathering feedback from customers at every release.
A designer (and team) need a strong and efficient toolkit to allow for easy handoffs and specialization.
There’s a sweet spot for the types of tools a good design organization should have, and it’s not a terribly long list. The team should have a tool to organize stories and tasks, a tool for designing, a tool for prototyping, a tool for asset carving, tools for research, and a way to organize it all.