Design Authority – Part one

21 10 2007

At my presentation this year at Web Directions South I spoke briefly about the role of the Design Authority.

I’ll start this off by saying that there is in my mind, not one role that is defined by Design Authority.

There are in fact three.

The differentiating factor being the context and therefore your viewpoint.

Programme Design Authority:

This Design Authority is single point of truth for the design of a Programmes outcome configuration. Programmes deliver benefits to an organisation or entity. The projects that are children to the Programme, are responsible for delivering the capability that will deliver the benefits that are sought after by the Programme.

In the program me context, the Design Authority marshals what capabilities are required to deliver the benefits, and subsequently the outcomes from the sub-projects.

Over time, through feedback from the sub projects the Design Authority will monitor the development and the alignment of those projects with the parent capability requirements (or Capability Profile)

Enterprise Design Authority:

Similar to a Programme Design Authority, however the Enterprise Design Authority, holds a persistent or lasting role. Programmes have endings, much like projects (duh because of their implicit relationship). The Enterprise Design Authority preserves the Enterprise business intent, and provides design assurance for the programmes of work within the enterprise.

Visual Design Authority:

This is the role that is more common around the traps and would be familiar to anyone working in a development house.

The Visual Design Authority is the role that is responsible for the design strategy, as it relates to all things visual or interactive. This includes aspects like how the visual appearance evolves of a website, or what methodologies are in place for the design of interactivity or business processes, whether or not information architecture principles are applied and how and when and by whom.

Everyone needs to set up their Design Authority in the way that best suits the purpose. The term design means different things to different people, hence since I come from more than one place (being both the interface design, enterprise design space) I can see both points of view.

Why I like the concepts around the Design Authority is that it disambiguates where the assurance responsibility lies. In many contexts this role can be very useful, especially in terms of assuring alignment of effort outputs with the original vision, and in terms of providing consistency and stability in terms of visual design output and approach.

Even for small business this can be useful, because where resources are limited and time is short, wasted effort that isn’t true to the original goal can be expensive and sometimes crippling.

Within the private web development field I would even actually say that the concepts behind a Design Authority, could hold a lot of value (from a visual design authority view) in terms of a Quality Assurance Regime. Where the outputs of a development team can be independantly reviewed against the original or captured client intent, which ALWAYS looks good.

I’ll endeavor to post again about the role of the configuration manager, who enables the requirements of the Design Authority through managing the configuration of the programmes efforts.

This Design Authority role is ever expanding particularly as there is more and more rapid work or agile work being done in the software / web development space. In light of that, if you would like to pitch a question about what a Design Authority role could do for you, or if you want to comment on how you use a Design Authority already, I’d love to hear from you.

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One response

2 05 2010
Sukanya

Thank you very much for your article. I thinks it ok.

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