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The State of DesignOps in 2022

The year 2021 saw the first benchmark State of DesignOps Report, based on a survey among DesignOps practitioners globally. This second year the definitive State of DesignOps Report has some exciting findings. The survey generated 444 responses from 45 different countries, showing pretty clear trends in DesignOps over the past year. The report answers many interesting questions, such as what is the state of DesignOps as a practice? Who are the people driving DesignOps? What tools are becoming industry standards within Design organizations? Etc. 

In this blog post, I will share some of the most interesting findings. Check out the full report here. 

The transition from Design to DesignOps

 ~54% of those surveyed have their career transitioned from design (or design leadership) into DesignOps. In addition to seeing the need for DesignOps, respondents feel inspired to become DesignOps practitioners themselves.

Our global landscape underwent major changes at the time of the emergence of the field. All crises, such as epidemics, climate emergencies, and geopolitical shifts, have an impact on designers — not to mention the shift to remote work! Designers need more support than ever before, all in an increasingly competitive business environment. This is where DesignOps professionals arrive with a toolbox and a mindset to make designers' lives easier and their jobs more enjoyable, while leveling up the impact of design in organizations.

Consequently, DesignOps has become more mature. Aside from expanding its reach across the globe, DesignOps is also redefining how it can provide value within companies. As a result,  a growing number of people are specializing in DesignOps and it’s experiencing an increase in leadership positions too.  

DesignOps professionals are experienced, female, and highly educated

Unlike many other fields heavily dominated by men (e.g. engineering, design, product) DesignOps is a mostly female-led field: 57,4 % of respondents identify as she/her. This is important to note as she/her make up the majority only in a limited number of fields. There was also pleasing news that both companies (34%) and design teams (38,1%) make high efforts to hire with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in mind.

Our professionals have an impressive amount of experience due to the high amount of lateral transfers from other career paths. A whopping 72% of our respondents are professionals with at least 10 years of experience. DesignOps practitioners are also highly educated, with over 93% holding undergraduate degrees. 20% of those surveyed said they studied UX specifically at the college level.

Team of one in tech

In response to the question of how many people are involved in DesignOps at your company, the most common answers were 2-4 (27,9%) and just me (27,7%). These small teams are also growing most rapidly which is only natural as smaller companies are able to establish a DesignOps culture more rapidly.

However, the larger the design team the bigger the need for DesignOps. These practitioners can be found mostly in the technology industry (42,6%) where large design teams tend to be, so this makes sense. Financial services, with 12,4%, is the second largest employer of DesignOps professionals.

The teams can be seen as connective tissue of their design org. The top responsibilities for 75% of the teams have to do with keeping people informed, aligned, and empowered.

Figma rules

The tool scene is dominated by Figma with 92,3% share in design and 72,1% in collaboration, which is no surprise. There is no major competitor to Figma when it comes to design, whereas in collaboration Slack holds a 67,1% and Miro 56,2% share. With 69,8% of users, Slack leads in communication.

Confluence is widely used in documentation (55,2%) and document creation (48,9%). Google Docs is also popular with shares of 48% and 54,7% .

The leading task management tool is Jira with 61,3%

Making an impact with DesignOps in your company

Why would you invest in DesignOps in your company?

DesignOps is about orchestrating and optimizing people, processes, and craft, in order to amplify design’s value and impact at scale — while positively influencing the working lives of designers. In 2020 McKinsey made a large study of ROI of design, and they found that companies who best utilize design grow their revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry counterparts.

This year’s State of DesignOps Report tells us that it can take 1-4 years to establish a DesignOps practice, depending on the size of your company. We have been building and growing design teams and design processes, and leveling up design craft for the last 20 years. We can help you utilize design to grow your revenues faster than your competitors, and with our DesignOps coaching you can start reaping the benefits of a higher-performance design function far more quickly than if you decide to invent the wheel yourself. Let us help elevate your business!

Happy to help!

Let us help you build a stronger design team that can orchestrate people, processes, and has the best tools to enhance creativity and impact. Let's talk!

Harri Kiljander
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