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When you think of software development, you probably first think of programming. Actually, behind the scenes, many more people than software developers are involved. One of the core principles of design thinking is multidisciplinary teams, that is, team members from diverse professional backgrounds.

The graphic below shows the main process roles for the design-led development (DLD) process. You may need to tailor this list according to specific project needs, but this is the default setup.

A multidisciplinary team means that you get diverse ideas about the product, its functions and features that are to make it even better. How do you judge which features are an actual improvement to those who will eventually use the product? How do you ensure that what you develop is innovative and delightful? And, after all, how to prevent misunderstandings between all the roles, for example the user, the project lead, the designer, and the developer?

What is needed, is a structured, yet flexible approach to research, analyze, and understand customer and user needs. In addition to that, the approach needs to transform your understanding into design and eventually, a product. Design-led development is SAP’s process to make sure the requirements for a product are derived from user research turned into product design according to guidelines and best practices, and are eventually properly implemented. Following DLD ensures efficiency and quality for every SAP Fiori app.

The Three Ds of DLD

Let’s walk through DLD step by step. DLD consists out of three phases: Discover, Design, and Develop. Note that there are two phases before Development – Discover and Design. These two phases are just as important as developing the software itself!

During the Discover phase, you focus on understanding your customers and end users. What is the business process you want to address? Which business roles are involved? What do they need?  And how do they actually work? Indeed, there are several points in the different phases where connecting up with the customer and end-user is a must. Organizing design thinking workshops with the different stakeholders is a great way to go about this.

When the team has reached a sufficient understanding of customers’ and end users’ needs, you move on to the Design phase. Here, you once again apply design thinking principles such as ideation and designing prototypes. The SAP Fiori Design Guidelines serve as a working basis and tool kit for SAP Fiori designers and developers, providing guidance and decision support – not the least, to decide on the technology to be used.

In the Develop phase, the app is implemented and tested. Yet, design doesn’t stop here: you may have to allow for some technical constraints or react on lessons learned from early usability testing. Usability checks and feedback of your users along the way ensure that you’re on the way to a product that your users need and want.

Checks and feedback of your users along the way ensure that you’re on the way to a product that your users need and want. At the end of every phase, quality measures as checkpoints take place.

By following the design-led development process, you get closer to creating the app that your user wants. And, ultimately, what you want, too: delighted users.