Photo by Carl Nenzen Loven on Unsplash
Let’s talk operations.
ProductOps. DevOps. BizOps. IT Ops. Beebops. DooWops. OppityOps.
Let’s talk operations within in-house UX teams. If you’re working at a large tech corporation, you have probably been hearing a lot about DesignOps, ResearchOps, UXOps, and Creative Ops. Though producers and project managers have been around for a long time within agencies and other creative teams, we have now found a space, a community, a home — that’s also come with an expanding set of roles and expectations.
I’ve been leading an ever-changing operations team within a Design organization for the past 5+ years. Our team has formed and normed, reformed and renormed many, many times due to changes internally and aligning to norms surfacing externally within these new Ops communities. And let me tell you, it’s been the best and most exciting job I’ve ever had.
I was recently challenged by something said recently around having a tough time finding commonalities between the work of DesignOps and ResearchOps. I was excited hearing this because in the past year, I’ve found many ways both DesignOps and ResearchOps have shared a vision.
Regardless of what creative function an Ops team is partnering with, the way we organize our work remains core. There will be different tactics and different paths, but the value Ops brings to the people, the work, and for the business remains the same. The Ops function designs experiences for our UX teams to deliver value at scale. I’m drawn to what I consider the Ops value proposition. We promise to enable teams to be more effective and happy at work. If people are happy they will stay longer, produce better work, attract other great talent, and ultimately create better products and better business. #HappinessOps
There are many opportunities to add this value. Often Ops teams and individuals on the teams can feel pressure to take on “all-the-things.” How can we prioritize? I’ve found that having key objectives, tactics, and types of work outlined can help with planning and talking to our partners.
To start, key objectives for our Ops team are: Provide predictability, Remove friction, Enable Focus, and Inspire Growth. If what we are working on can’t be aligned to one or more of these things, we shouldn’t work on it.
Once we can determine if a project, task, or program aligns with our objectives, how do we organize our work? Ops can bucket the work under the following strategies:
Process, Collaboration, & Workflow Design
Ownership over how individuals and teams are working through defined and agreed upon shared processes, collaboration methods, and/or workflows (Governance). Regularly evaluate workflows and if necessary, refine and document (knowledge management) the process for improved efficiency (Creation).
Examples Templates; Engagement Models; Org Mapping; Prospective Hindsights; Retrospectives; Form creation; Storing & Sharing Work; Critique & Reviews; Participant Recruitment
Systematic management of the org or function’s knowledge for the purpose of creating value. Documentation and systems that sustain and enhance the storage, sharing, refinement, and creation of knowledge.
Examples Best Practices; How-tos; Toolkits; Playbooks; Insights Management; Notes & Action Items
Planning & Resource Management
The efficient and effective development of an organization’s resources (people, skills, time, budget, onboarded tools, etc.) when and where they are needed.
Examples Capacity planning during planning process; Regularly assess capacity and unplanned resourcing changes; Escalate burnout or availability; Support management in cross-functional headcount asks; Advocate for and raise optimizations for planning processes; Finances; Incentives
The practice of planning, executing, running, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time.
Examples Planning and mapping out deadlines; Setting clear expectations for what the team can accomplish and saying no where necessary; Track and manage work; Collaboration with other teams; Define project roles and responsibilities; Action item follow-ups; Run debriefs; Help identify escalations
The process and tactics that enables the exchange of information and instruction in order to enable the organization to function effectively. The right info, with the right audience, at the right time.
Examples Weekly status; Reports; Share-out of programs; Reminders; Sharing work; Team or Project Branding
Tools, Vendors, & Technology
Governance of tools, vendors, and technology. Regularly assess tools, vendors, and technology necessary for an optimized and quality workflow. Own supplier relationship and management.
Examples Supplier approval and procurement; Process Documentation; Onboarding; Ongoing Training; Lab Tech
Learning & Skill Development
Development of programs and initiatives that grow our team resulting in higher engagement, employee retention and greater efficiency.
Examples Learning courses & classes; Speaker Series; Training; Conferences
Onboarding & Community
Development of programs and initiatives that lead to a reduction of successful employee ramp-up time and time to effectively contribute, and increase happiness, belonging, and inclusion within the org.
Examples 30/60/90 Plans; Org & Team Set-up; Orientation; Welcome gifts; Team norms; Offsites; Recognition norms; Trust and safety; Event Management
For the same info in a table format, check out the below.
Examples in each category are generalized enough that you can apply to Product Design, Visual Design, Design Systems, User Research, Writing, and more UX functions.
For example, you could create a Vendor Bank for your user researchers or create a resource of approved design and prototyping tools for your product designers — and both would be considered Knowledge Management while removing friction. Another example might be bring teams offsite for team bonding. This is something that will bring functional or project teams closer together, inspiring growth under Onboarding & Community. Or, optimizing a cross-functional planning process for research requests and evolving a line of business design planning process might provide predictability with Process, Collaboration, & Workflow Design and Planning & Resource Management.
I’ve found Ops projects, tasks, and programs are working to achieve the same goal of designing experiences for our UX teams to deliver value at scale. Different tactics, methods, and paths to achieve the same value proposition: Effectiveness and happiness. AKA, HappinessOps.
Reposted from LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/happinessops-adrienne-allnutt/
This post is part of #POVember where members of the #LinkedInUX team write in sharing our perspectives. Learn more about the #LinkedInUX team at design.linkedin.com.
This is Part 1 of a series I’ll be starting on creative and UX operations.