Developing a Design Operations Capability at Caterpillar


With no design process or internal capabilities, my department, which was responsible for 100+ websites, relied heavily on outside agencies to execute strategy and design projects. This practice was expensive, required heavy coordination, and the team missed opportunities to learn from first-hand user research.


One of my first tasks was to operationalize UX, leading the development of a DesignOps capability. The key goal was to improve the internal team’s ability to conduct user research and develop data-driven design — all while maintaining engagement with business and technology stakeholders.


Within my department, I worked to UX capabilities and culture.  I also partnered with other business and technology leaders to integrate these capabilities with their working models.

Key deliverables included:

  1. Common set of UX principles, heuristics, and best practices
  2. Common set of tools and software for design, prototyping, and collaboration
  3. Multi-channel design system (in Sketch and HTML)
  4. Design thinking process for identifying and solving user and business challenges
  5. Detailed workflows and rituals for design, discovery, and delivery stages
  6. Product management processes including idea intake, backlog management, prioritization, and roadmapping
  7. Model for integrating business partners, technology groups, and external suppliers
  8. Clear UX metrics, linked to strategic goals
  9. Research repository to organize all research and artifacts across all customer segments
  10. Introduction of multiple user research and testing methods


An established approach to design operations enabled the team to do their best work. Overall, the department is able to work on multiple enterprise projects of varying scale with greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Key results included:

  • Better communication and collaboration across and within teams and departments
  • Reduced supplier costs, which were refocused on other key areas
  • Increased design-to-development velocity
  • Better quality design and prototypes; better integration of user and business feedback
  • Increased understanding of UX (and the design process) across the organization




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