Developing a DesignOps Discipline at Caterpillar



As products, services, and technologies converge to create new sources of value for customers, having an internal design thinking discipline and user experience competencies is a requirement. A company that I worked within had several large websites which served a diverse set of business units and customers, but no organizational infrastructure for design. With limited internal design competencies and very few team members who understood UX principles, they struggled to continuously evolve their technology platforms to address user and business needs. 


  • No common set of UX standards and heuristics.
  • At times, strategy and design was outsourced to vendors.
  • At times, strategy and design was completed without adequate user testing, voice of business, and research about the competitive environment.
  • The company lacked a systematic way to collect research and data about users
  • The company lacked a systematic way to design, prototype, and test
  • Integrating new design work into development was a challenge
  • Basic design tools and software required to complete designops was not there


  • Resulted in additional Enhancements/ changes/ rework
  • Resulted in pressure from business / upset
  • Resulted in adoption challenges
  • Resulted in more expensive designs (even basic designs)
  • Resulted in rework or unnecessary design work


  • Implemented design thinking process (research, design, and user testing), where none previously existed.
  • Planned and led global workshops to gather updated voice of business.
  • Helped to build a foundation for a new DesignOps infrastructure which included:
    • Common set of UX principles, heuristics, and best practices
    • Common set of tools and software for design, prototyping, and collaboration
    • Design system with graphic files and production-ready front-end code
    • Process and work flow for moving from idea to strategy to design and then development
    • Training people, increasing UX IQ across non-designers, ensuring broader understanding of those involved in the design process
    • Improving the design culture
    • Collaboration with other designers
  • Piloted design thinking process on large-scale, enterprise-wide program.


  • Efficiencies and cost savings due to better workflow and reduced reliance on vendors
  • Increased adoption of designs by business unit partners; their needs reflected in final output
  • Increased UX IQ or organizational understanding of design thinking
  • Better communication and shared learning between all parties involved in the process—business teams, marketing teams, designers, strategists, analysts.







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