Dear Alison: “I’m creating job titles for DesignOps roles and need some other models for reference.” 

January 12, 2022

#DesignOpsAdvice from Alison Rand. Have a question for Alison? Ask via this form.

Julie, Head of the UXD Center of Excellence at Fidelity Investments: “I’m creating job titles for DesignOps roles and need some other models for reference.”


Alison Rand

Alison Rand: Good question! As these are early days, there is still some ambiguity in general around what role to hire for, never mind what titles should be. We have been having this conversation in one way or another for years. In the past we spoke of project management, program management, producer, etc. and debated nomenclature vs. semantics. And in this nascent discipline, I think the roles (and ambiguity) are analogous. Here’s what I have seen as the most common (and simplest) way to title:

Head of Design Operations
The person in this role leads the operations practice partnering closely with design leadership as the first point of contact in planning/road mapping and vision-setting. This role provides program management leadership and operational support throughout a design organization and across partner teams by increasing communication and connection points, streamlining the design process, and driving design excellence. 

Design Program Manager
Design Program Managers support various aspects of product teams, enabling teams to focus their time on designing, building, and shipping products. Improving team communication, collaboration, and removing roadblocks. This role utilizes a full range of organizational and interpersonal skills to keep teams on track, execute specific design initiatives intended to grow team culture, industry expertise, and team impact, working with cross-functional teams to establish better processes and practices in working together.

Design Producer
The Design Producer is an organized, strategic, positive team orchestrator who is responsible for executing the project objectives and deliverables. Producers own the day-to-day project schedule and manage project costs, timelines, and quality while remaining flexible and focused on delivering the best creative solutions. They can build relationships to make sound decisions, communicate clearly, and actively manage the working team, project stakeholders, and partners. They are accountable for end-to-end management of design projects, from brief to product launch.

Leveling is an added layer to titling. Skill matrices are complex beasts and often controversial. The most straightforward and most basic model was laid out in Org Design for Design Orgs. However, this is not a one size fits all model. The framework is an excellent place to start, but there are many ways to customize in consideration for your team and the teams you are trying to build and grow. 

What you have laid out seem like roles that are trying to encompass a few things in one. I might suggest considering the standard titles, level application as it suits your organization, and adding in the specialty as needed. I know finance can be a whole different beast in and of itself. Don’t try to do too much at once. Ask yourself the question of whether or not this is translatable to the industry as a title/role as career equity in the market is a thing.