Developing a Design Operations Capability at Caterpillar


From 2016 to 2019, I was responsible for leading the vision and strategy for marketing technologies at Caterpillar, which included more than 100+ websites. With no internal design team or process, our team heavily relied on outside agencies for strategy and design projects. This model was expensive, required heavy coordination, and lacked opportunities for first-hand user research. The absence of internal design competencies and a systematic approach to UX led to unsustainable costs, unnecessary rework, and extended development timelines.


  • No common UX standards or heuristics in place.
  • Strategy and design were outsourced to vendors.
  • Lack of adequate user testing, voice of business, and competitive research.
  • No systematic way to collect user research and data.
  • No systematic approach to design, prototyping, and testing.
  • Lack of basic design tools and software.


I spearheaded the development of the team’s DesignOps capability, which involved:

  • Design Thinking Process: Implemented a design thinking process (research, design, and user testing) where none previously existed.
  • Global Workshops: Planned and led global workshops to gather updated voice of business.
  • Multi-Channel Design System: Developed a multi-channel design system in Sketch and HTML.
  • DesignOps Infrastructure:
    • Established common UX principles, heuristics, and best practices.
    • Provided common tools and software for design, prototyping, and collaboration.
    • Documented workflows and processes for discovery, strategy, design, and development phases.
    • Implemented product management processes including idea intake, backlog management, prioritization, and roadmapping.
  • Training and Education: Trained team members to increase UX IQ across non-designers, ensuring a broader understanding of the design process.
  • UX Metrics: Established clear UX metrics linked to strategic goals.
  • Research Repository: Created a repository to organize all research and artifacts across customer segments.
  • User Research Methods: Introduced multiple user research and testing methods.
  • Integration Model: Developed a model for integrating business partners, technology groups, and external suppliers.
  • Pilot Programs: Piloted the design thinking process on large-scale, enterprise-wide programs.


This initiative enabled the team to perform their best work, improving efficiency and effectiveness across multiple enterprise projects. Key results include:

  • Improved Communication and Collaboration: Enhanced interaction within and across teams and departments.
  • Cost Reduction: Reduced supplier costs, allowing reallocation to other key areas.
  • Increased Velocity: Enhanced design-to-development speed.
  • Quality Design: Produced better quality designs and prototypes with improved integration of user and business feedback.
  • Higher UX Understanding: Increased organizational understanding of UX and the design process.
  • Workflow Efficiencies: Achieved cost savings and reduced reliance on vendors due to better workflow.
  • Business Unit Adoption: Increased adoption of designs by business unit partners, reflecting their needs in the final output.
  • Shared Learning: Improved communication and shared learning between business teams, marketing teams, designers, strategists, and analysts.




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