According to Harvard Business Review, adopting new ways to organize your work can lead to remarkable advancements in your company’s performance. In the 1980s, people combined some set of tools like quality circles, kanban cards, etc with the insight that people could do much higher standard work than they were asked to do. The blend of these two applied to the work process in manufacturing was given the name ‘Total Quality Management.’ Today, another social technology has emerged – Design Thinking. It is believed that design thinking in software development has the potential to do for innovation exactly what TQM did for manufacturing.
Businesses have slowly realized that design can be used as a distinguishing feature to respond to alternating trends and behavior of people. Renowned companies like Apple, Microsoft, Disney, and IBM have demonstrated how design thinking impacts the bottom line and contributes to business growth.
In this article, we will explore what design thinking is, the five stages it involves, how and why it contributes to business growth, and the top companies across the globe utilizing this tool to add value to their businesses.
What is Design Thinking in software development?
An approach used to solve practical and creative problems which is wholly based on methods that designers use is called design thinking. This idea has evolved from a range of different fields which include architecture, engineering, and business.
Design thinking has a user-centric core and emphasizes understanding people’s needs and finding effective solutions to meet them. This in return leads to better products, services, and internal processes. The design strategy does wonders for complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown.
The Five Stages of Design Thinking
Developing an understanding of the five stages of design thinking in software development will help empower anyone trying to solve complicated problems. Now, let’s explore how design thinking works by using the design thinking process proposed by Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. The stages are as follows:
The very first stage is to earn an empathic understanding of the matter you’re trying to resolve. To better comprehend the issue at hand, you need to engage yourself with people to know about their experiences and incentives. For a human-centric design approach like design thinking, empathy plays a very crucial role since this helps them in gaining insights by setting aside their assumptions about the world.
A considerable amount of information is gathered during the first phase which is used in the next one to establish the best possible understanding of the target end-user, their requirements, and the problems that might occur during the development of that particular product.
In this stage, you define the core problems you and your team have identified through analyzing the information gathered during the Empathise stage. The defined problems are labeled as a problem-statement. The Define stage helps your team to develop features that will allow the users to resolve issues themselves with minimum difficulty. This stage will help you progress into the third one where you will look for ideas to resolve these issues.
During the third stage, the designers are ready to start originating ideas. In the empathize stage you have identified your user’s needs and have further analyzed them in the Define stage, and finally ended up with a problem statement. Since you have established a solid background, you and your team can start to think innovatively using techniques like Brainstorming and Brainwrite to identify new solutions to the problem. By the end of this phase, you should be able to pick out some Ideation techniques to help you investigate and test your ideas thus intending to resolve these challenges.
To help investigate the problem solutions derived in the third stage, the design team now introduces scaled-down versions of the product. Prototypes are shared and tested between the team itself, different departments, and even with a group of people outside the team to find the best possible solution for each problem identified in the first three stages.
The prototypes are implemented one at a time to see if they are to be either accepted, improved, re-examined, or rejected. Ultimately by the end of this stage, the design team will have an idea about the limitations inherent to the product and have a clearer view of how the real users would behave.
Making use of the best solutions presented in the prototyping phase, designers now meticulously test the finished product. This is the final stage of the 5 stage-model but if viewed as an iterative process, it can be used to empathize and redefine the problems identified in the previous stages. Even during this final stage alterations can be made in the previous stages to rule out problem solutions.
The Benefits of Design Thinking in Software Development
Integrating Design thinking into your process can help add a tremendous amount of value to your business. You, however, need to ensure that the business strategy you employ produces a product that is not only desirable for customers but also achievable in terms of company budget and available resources.
Now, let’s explore some of the design thinking benefits for businesses to help attain maximum profit from your product.
Substantially reduces time-to-market
Through emphasizing troubleshooting and finding economical solutions, this approach can significantly reduce the duration spent on design and development – primarily in amalgamation with lean and agile.
Cost reduction and a huge ROI
By marketing your product at a faster pace, you can save up the business money to a great extent. Also, developing software using design thinking has been proven to yield a significant return on investment. Teams utilizing IBM’s Design Thinking techniques have computed a 300% ROI.
More loyal customer-base
The design thinking process revolves around a user-centric approach hence helps in boosting user engagement and customer retention for a longer period.
The idea behind this approach is all about challenging assumptions that encourage the stakeholders to think out of the ordinary. Hence, there’s room for lots of innovation that extends well beyond the design team.
Can be implemented across the company
The biggest advantage of using design thinking for business strategy is that it is not limited to the design team only. It encourages cross-team collaborations and can be applied to any team in any industry.
Design Thinking: A game-changer for many businesses
A process that integrates critical thinking and cross-team collaboration to deliver innovative solutions for a design thinking software solutions industry is now leveraging many companies to grow their businesses.
Some of the top companies using design thinking are:
The company at one point earned just US$ 200 in a week. They soon realized that the rental options on their website had poor-quality pictures. So, their team members flew to New York and captured their high-quality pictures to be posted on their website. By adopting the design thinking technique they achieved a 100% increase in revenue.
A globally known fashion company, Burberry, was growing at a very slower pace in 2006 with a mere 2% per year. To alter the dynamics of their company the CEO, Angela Arhendts, realized that through digital demographics they can help attract their target end-users. Design thinking keeping the final consumers in mind along with empathy can unleash new potential for the company. By the end of 2012, revenues had grown to US$ 3 million with Burberry winning the title of being one of the most innovative brands in the world.
A Swedish telecom company built its innovation center called Innova which emphasizes rapid prototyping to create an MVP product. Innova formulates cross-functional teams that help connect the teams with the company partners and customers. Since the creation of Innova, 4000 ideas have been submitted, around 450 acquiring first-round funding, and 5 ideas successfully becoming the company’s products.
Tools like design thinking have always existed to accelerate the business processes of this efficiency-based changing world. To help accomplish maximum benefits from design thinking, it is evident that we understand and master this technique before applying it practically to our organization.
If you are looking for a team of experts to help you build design thinking processes for your software company, then get in touch and our team will contact you.