A Pocket Guide to Design Operations

Rachel Posman
7 min readFeb 26, 2021

I created this 101 level guide for my mentees through UX Coffee Hours. It answers eight of the most common questions I get from folks interested in or new to Design Operations.

1. What is DesignOps?

“If we want to make great experiences in our products, we have to feel great about the experience of making.” — Miles Orkin

Design Operations practitioners understand that the experience of making is as important as making the experience.

Design Operations focuses on the how so that design can focus on the what. It is the design discipline that owns the intentional operationalizing, optimizing and scaling of design.

Designers and design teams are our “users” and we design the design team’s experiences, systems, processes, tools and frameworks to enable better, happier and more effective teams. We amplify the impact and effectiveness of the design organization at scale through expert orchestration of people, projects and processes. We are the intermediary between wider business functions and act as a crucial bridge between partner groups like HR, legal, procurement, and finance. And, we are respected peers of design leaders, thought partners and trusted experts.

“We are the scaling engine behind the UX org that enables teams to deliver customer and business success while they achieve personal and professional growth.” — Jason Kriese, VP and COO UXOps @ Salesforce

2. Why is DesignOps important?

“How teams work is just as important as what they make.” — Kristin Skinner, CoAuthor of Org Design for Design Orgs

Design Operations, UX Operations, Design Program Management; it has a lot of names but one thing’s for sure, DesignOps is crucial to the success of a design organization.

In Kristin Skinner’s Keynote at the Design Ops Summit in 2017, Kristin explains the stages of a design team’s growth and how Design Operations evolves. She points out that initially, on a team of a few designers, one designer may take point on operations, creating early processes and standards. As the team scales and moves from a design team to a design org, the…

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Rachel Posman

DesignOps Leader | Co-Author of "The Design Conductors: Your Essential Guide to Design Operations" (Rosenfeld Media, 2024) | Mom to two humans and a fur baby.