Enterprise Design  — Is an Internal UX Team Your Best Bet?

7 June 2017 by Shivam Sahai No comments
Enterprise UX Design

The short answer is NO. I am a UX consultant right now and I’ve worked within enterprise design teams as well. So I’ve been on both sides of the fence.

Enterprise Design – In-house team or External Consultants?

Yes enterprise products need design as a core competency. Without this discipline, the products simply grow into beasts. As UX consultants, people like us are called to tame these beasts. We are supposed to cajole them into being more humane. To convince them to be more soothing, and look much better. And that’s a hard task to be honest.

I’ve always wondered why does this scenario arise? Given that budgets aren’t a constraint, can’t enterprises figure out the nuances internally?

I think the answer is ‘Yes’ enterprises can work solely with internal design teams. But they shouldn’t. It just doesn’t work. Here are the reasons why.

My 3 bits on why enterprises should go with external consultants 

In-house design teams need to be nurtured carefully. And it’s hard.

Unless you are one of the organisations like Apple, Airbnb or Basecamp, for most companies design is an after-thought. Most enterprises I’ve worked are rooted in some kind of technology innovation.

In other words, they simply aren’t inclined to build a design-centric culture and mind-set. It’s just not their forte, no matter how hard they try and hire the best design talent. Institutionalization of design is simply an ineffective strategy. Many companies attempt to introduce design into existing setups, but they underestimate its complexity.

In-house design teams are more prone to compromise on their craft

A friend of mine works at a major SaaS enterprise. When he tells me how the product-technical-design folks hang out on Friday evenings, I wonder if these social gatherings have any impact on work? (I am all for Friday parties, I usually like a barbecue with beer). But, here’s the thing. We’re all social animals. An in-house designer can get influenced when it comes to taking the tough calls.

There are times when one feels that design is being undermined. Many a times, I’ve had my manager telling me to compromise just so that we make the release. As a designer, I hate such calls. It’s better to service an enterprise as an external consultant. it keeps me free from organizational politics and obligations.

In-house design teams usually run into creative blocks

A friend of mine recently mentioned, that his company (a large MNC) was hiring an external design agency for their new line of products. And I was mighty surprised. This organization had multiple in-house design teams. So why did they still need an external agency?

It’s simple. Finally, it boils down to bringing fresh thinking into design. In-house design teams usually get too much into the sameness trap. And I think it does deplete the creative-quotient. I’ve felt that way personally to be honest, at some point in my career. So I completely get it.

In conclusion, this blog isn’t about undermining in-house designers. I’ve been one during my career. Rather, it’s about reflecting on how large enterprises should think about design. I rest my case. What’s your take?

Shivam Sahai

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