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DesignOps: achieve your outcomes faster

  • Posted on March 20, 2017

Whenever we build software, our users – whether internal or external – have high expectations when it comes to how their applications should work. Tools should be beautiful and easily understood on the first try. They should “just work” with no training and no manuals. They also need to improve over time without being confusing. While this is not possible with all systems, it’s where the bar currently sits.

We have seen the rise of DevOps as one key element in this recipe: developers work hand-in-hand with IT Operations people to define processes and apply automation tools that allow for rapid, error-free build and deploy cycles. The result is the ability to deploy enhancements and apply fixes without breaking the app.

Another ingredient that leads in this direction is design thinking, an approach to the design of complex, innovative systems that starts from user needs rather than feature lists. While that distinction may seem semantic at first, the design thinking approach tries to break free from the usual requirements-gathering sessions that are standard and relatively well understood but which often result in brittle, disjointed, hard-to-use systems.

Start with the goal

Design thinking starts with the goal: What actually needs to be accomplished? The approach then involves methods to stimulate new ideas and look at problems from new, user-focused directions, followed by prototyping and then rapidly iterating on the ideas that emerge in an attempt to bring entirely new ways of thinking to the problem.

What we are now looking at is a way to break the artificial barrier between the design process and the build / deploy process. To achieve the results we need, we are seeing an evolution to an approach that brings all these phases together. We’re calling this DesignOps, which we introduce in our Technology Vision 2017.

DesignOps may mean different things to different people. We define it as bringing design thinking closer to the worlds of integrated development and deployment so that we can shorten the process of design/build/deploy while increasing quality, value, reliability and stability for software applications. Just as DevOps required a new level of cooperation between the developers and the IT pros, implementing DesignOps will require unprecedented levels of cooperation and collaboration among the teams that take software from conception to delivery.

Gradually build your DesignOps muscle

Implementing this approach is not simple. It will take time to build the culture and the skills required. We advocate that you pick some pilot projects to become familiar with the approach and to build your DesignOps muscle. This can be especially useful when working on some of the newer technologies discussed in our TechVision.

Our users have raised their expectations and they often have alternatives to how they get their jobs done. To win them over, we need to meet their expectations for better, simpler and easier-to-use software. Try the DesignOps approach to get there faster.

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