What Is Process Design? Definition, Principles and Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Process design helps organisations create better products and services that are more likely to fit in with their company's vision and goals. Product managers who are designing new products or services may find this method useful as a way of checking their product meets customer expectations. Process design can provide you with a toolkit to produce effective and meaningful products. In this article, we explain what exactly process design is, discuss the main principles of this method and show you how to use this process in practice.

Related: Brand Design Definition (With Importance, Steps and Tips)

What is process design?

Process design is a method you can use to understand an organisation's values in relation to what it offers. If you're working on a new product or service, you may think about using a design method to develop your ideas and to make sure the new product aligns with your values. This approach also works if you want to update and renew an existing company offer.

This way of working allows you to build in greater efficiencies within a business. By assessing the process your team works through as they create products, it may be possible to see where you can introduce time-saving techniques.

Related: What Is a Product Engineer? Skills, Requirements and Salary

The principles of process design

Here are the general principles of this type of process:

1. Set up direct interactions

The first step is to think about how the company interacts with customers. Since your overriding aim is to produce something that your customers want, it's essential to understand their needs and desires. Direct interactions prompt your development team to think about what your product or service can provide and the value it brings.

For example, if the company is developing a new range of sunglasses, your development team conducts market research to find out the most popular type of sunglasses available and how you can improve them. Finding out what your customers want is critical to developing a best-selling product.

2. Standardise business processes

If you can standardise business processes, you can make the operation quicker and more efficient. Here are some benefits of standardising your processes:

  • Simplifies procedures: This makes processes easier to learn and to memorise which improves safety and speeds up your workflow.

  • Increases productivity: Since the team better understands the work they're doing, they make fewer mistakes, and this increases their productivity.

  • Reduces expenses: Because the team is able to work more rapidly and efficiently, you save on the overtime hours staff may have worked and this saves money.

3. Understand value

Understanding the value your product or service can bring to the market is essential if you're going to appeal to a wide range of consumers. To gain this awareness, your development team can set up focus groups with potential consumers to discover their preferences and tastes. For example, customers may choose one pair of sunglasses above another because they fold up neatly and you can store them in a pocket.

Recognising the value of your product or service can help you better understand how your customers view your offer. This is important information for your marketing teams when they create promotional campaigns to highlight certain features. It also helps them to reach your target consumers.

4. Reduce handoff delays

When the responsibility for a project moves from one person to another, or from one team to another, delays can occur. It's important to plan the handoff carefully to avoid wasting time. For example, if a new employee is due to begin their first day, but the project manager wasn't aware of the start date, this can mean the human resources department hasn't signed off employment references or checks and the start date has to be put back.

It's easy to avoid this with better communication channels and a modern workflow structure. This helps ensure that teams know about any new employees who are joining the project. A good brief helps everyone to be aware of staff changes.

5. Look for top quality

Producing the highest quality products you can helps a company to stay in demand. When thinking about quality, you may want to consider your product's effectiveness, safety, accessibility and usability. Understanding the quality of the product or service you're producing in relation to your target audience can help you make better quality control decisions.

6. Create space for team collaboration

Product or service development often involves many different individuals or teams working together from different parts of the company. This can allow for the exchange of new perspectives and ideas to develop in the creation of your products or services. Offering a space where employees can network and discuss ideas is essential to help your development team work together efficiently and to manage any disagreements or challenges that occur.
Related: Learn About Being a Product Designer (With Skills and Salary)

7. Follow specific boundaries

Recognising specific regulations and requirements for your products is essential to good customer service. It's important to provide your customers with the most up-to-date information available about the use of your products. For example, your new range of sunglasses may require health and safety testing for chemicals such as nickel.

Communicating the health and safety regulations that exist for your products helps a company disclose important safety or usage information to customers. What's important is that you not only follow the safety regulations but also communicate with customers about your compliance with the most up-to-date rules.

8. Ensure you're being compliant

Apply the compliance standards for the market segment the company belongs to. It's important to check whether there are different international standards to those you comply with nationally if you plan to export your product. For example, you may discover that there are different regulations for selling your eyewear to the European market than to the Asian market. To ensure the company's new product or service meets all compliance requirements, check individual requirements at country and international levels.

9. Continuously test your products

Companies often use continuous testing to assess a product or service and to comprehend customer perceptions before they release it to the market. For example, your team might begin by asking a focus group of participants what they think about the visual design of your new pair of sunglasses. They may ask the group to try out different designs to see which they prefer. Continuous testing allows your team to analyse customer feedback from potential buyers and to understand whether designers may want to tweak the product or service design before the company officially releases it to consumers.

10. Look for simplicity

Try to find a simple solution rather than a complex one. Over-complicated processes can result in unnecessary expense, delay and reduced productivity. Simple designs are often the result of many hours of hard work, which result in the most effective and usable product.

11. Revise wisely

Development teams can use feedback gained from testing to inform them about any important revisions that may be necessary. For example, if the people who are testing your sunglasses report back that they had a lot of glare from that particular design, you may look at ways of reducing glare, for example, through introducing transition lenses.

The feedback you receive can influence whether these changes are small or fairly major. For example, feedback about the design of the new sunglasses logo is quite easy to change, while feedback about the sunglasses not working to reduce glare requires a larger product revision.

Related: 12 Customer Service Skills: Definitions and Examples

Top tips for improving your process design

Here are eight tips to help your process run more smoothly:

  • To be sure that you're executing the best design you can, analyse each step of the process carefully.

  • Create an itemised list of tasks for each team member to keep track of what everyone is doing.

  • Use the most up-to-date technology available to create more effective communication channels between team members.

  • User personas can help you understand the type of customer your product is targetting.

  • Create user journey maps to recognise current user challenges and ways you can overcome any obstacles.

  • Think about how your product or service can provide your customers with solutions to their problems.

  • Consider a range of different testing methods to ensure your product or service goes through a rigorous evaluation period, for example, focus groups from different areas and market surveys targeting different age groups.

  • Implement design thinking to help guide the idea process for products or services during your planning stages.

Explore more articles