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Building a compelling business case for a Design System

Building a compelling business case for a Design System

Presented at Web Directions Summit 2018 in sunny Sydney.

Design Systems are here to stay. It’s no secret that the topic of Design Systems have been an outrageously popular topic over the past few years. It feels like every design team has either built one, is building one, or wants to build one.

But it’s not designers who we have to convince when it comes to investing in the build of a design system. Especially if we aren’t lucky enough to be in an organisation where design has a ‘seat at the table’. How can we sell the benefits of a design system with more focus on appealing to upper management, who may not see the same benefits we do?

This talk is aimed primarily at designers, but may also interest product managers, front end developers & other roles core to a product team. It will be of most benefit to those who are either looking to introduce a design system into their organisation, or to bolster their case to increase the business investment in an existing design system.

The aim of the session is to equip the audience with the right tools & mindset to effectively sell a design system project to higher levels of business function within their organisation.

Laura Van Doore

November 02, 2018

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  1. 70% According to the UXPin Enterprise UX Industry Report of

    companies have a Design System Source: UXPin Enterprise UX Industry Report 2017 to 2018
  2. • Growing design teams
 Organisations are investing more in design.

    • Infinitely more complex design problems
 Software needs to become more sophisticated to keep up with the demands & desires of our users. • Distributed teams
 Agile delivery models encouraging cross functional teams, making it harder for teams to stay in sync Why do product teams want design systems? @lauravandoore
  3. This all makes perfect sense, the benefits speak for themselves.

 This is a no-brainer. — ME, 4 YEARS AGO “
  4. So how can we design our business case to best

    communicate the clear and tangible benefits of having a design system?
  5. Know your audience @lauravandoore • Emphasise benefits that appeal to

    your audience, not to you
 Resist the urge to only focus on the team benefits, and focus on measurable business benefits instead. • Write in the parlance of your audience
 Avoid jargon and use the language of business to craft your business case.
  6. Don’t go to war alone @lauravandoore • Get internal buy-in

    before external
 There’s no point in trying to convince upper management that you need a design system if you haven’t successfully convinced your team yet. • Form a united, cogent case together
 Get designers, developers, BAs, product managers together and get every teams perspective. You’ll find more and more benefits this way.
  7. Timing is everything @lauravandoore • Recognise your position in the

    funding cycle
 Is the business investing to scale up? Or is upper management doubling down on cost reductions? Try to avoid asking for a large investment when the business is scaling down. • Present the cure when the pain hurts the worst
 If a design system has been a hard sell, focus on waiting for an opportunity where the benefits can really shine.
  8. @lauravandoore Knowing your audience is half the battle 1 Don’t

    go to war alone, rally the troops Time your business case for high impact 2 3
  9. • Consistency — A consistent experience across products & devices

    • Efficiency — Efficient workflow & communication across teams • Maintainability — Easier to test and maintain code • Accessibility — Baked in accessibility, to create more inclusive products • Scalability — Less of a headache to build upon through the future What are the benefits of design systems? @lauravandoore
  10. What does it look like if we re-interpret or translate

    these benefits into a format that provide business outcomes?
  11. A stable foundation that will support the next 5 years

    of feature growth Scalability Team Benefit: Business Benefit:
  12. A good problem statement… @lauravandoore • Identifies the core problem

    • Outlines who’s impacted by the problem • Describes how this negatively impacts business goals 1 Problem Statement
  13. Problem selection @lauravandoore • Your product team is likely to

    be impacted by multiple problems • Instead of selecting one of your ‘own problems’, UX your business case by choosing a key business problem. 1 Problem Statement
  14. A design system increases ROI largely because it reduces cost

    rather than directly increasing revenue — BRAD FROST “ 2 Benefits & ROI
  15. Benefits & ROI @lauravandoore • Financials come first
 Upper management

    will usually look for financial benefits first, and then focus on peripheral benefits, like employee satisfaction. • Emphasise business outcomes, over team benefits
 Remember to frame your business case around tangible business outcomes, rather than ambiguous benefits. 2 Benefits & ROI
  16. Presenting Cost @lauravandoore • Demonstrate that you clearly understand the

 It’s much easier to persuade the naysayers if you can calculate & clearly articulate the project costs. • Present multiple cost scenarios
 Give your case a better chance by presenting different cost/resourcing options to balance the project funding & risk. 3 Costs & Resources
  17. Risks of going ahead @lauravandoore • Be realistic, rather than

 Try to be open and honest about the potential risks. Otherwise your business case will seem too biased and lose credibility. • Outline the risks of failure
 What’s the worst case scenario? 4 Risks
  18. Risks of falling behind @lauravandoore • There is risk in

    doing nothing • Bigger product team = Increased need for design system
 As a product team grows larger, there’s more need for standardised ways of working. The more people you have, the less efficient workflows will be. 4 Risks
  19. Delivery @lauravandoore • Present a solid roadmap
 Show a clear,

    deliverable scope, as well as your plans to grow & extend the design system over time. • Pinpoint where you’ll see a return
 Clearly indicate in your delivery plan when and how you’ll start to reap the benefits of the design system (hint: the sooner the better) 5 Implementation Plan
  20. @lauravandoore Problem Statement 1 Benefits & Estimated ROI Cost &

    Resources Risks 2 3 4 Implementation Plan 5
  21. Chip Away The design system is something that is only

    worked on in spare time, or when designers/engineers are between projects. @lauravandoore #1 Cost Risk Speed Quality
  22. Hibernation Getting a core team of designers & engineers working

    on the Design System full-time. Possibly allows the time for designers/engineers to come up with the best implementation. @lauravandoore #2 Cost Risk Speed Quality
  23. Piggyback Plan to get the bulk of the Design System

    implemented as a part of another project. Balances out the cost better, as you see the returns immediately. @lauravandoore #2 Cost Risk Speed Quality