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Customer focus on the whole organisation’s agenda – how OP’s one hundred designers work

”In a nutshell, one could describe us as a group of one hundred design professionals around OP. We are eagerly taking steps forward on a change journey of customer-orientation and design thinking,” explains Competence Lead Tuomas Manninen who supervises the designers in OP’s Development organisation.

Customer focus is an OP-wide strategic policy and a continuous change journey towards an agile culture and a new mindset. Today, design thinking has become a part of every OP employee’s working methods, but OP’s designers are still at the front line on the change journey.

How is it like to work as a designer for Finland’s leading financial services provider?

Three business divisions, a massive amount of projects and teams

“At OP, design is influencing in three business divisions, meaning it has a wide influence in the entire organisation. This is unique in the Finnish scale,” Tuomas explains.

Business Designers bring a customer perspective into OP’s (1) work related to strategy and vision. Customer Experience Leads and Concept Designers have their say on (2) business concepts and service processes. OP’s (3) individual products and services are designed by UX, Service, Visual and Content Designers.

Project-specific development teams are formed within business divisions. Designers in self-directed development teams join forces with experts from different fields to create new things or further develop old things. Every designer can select a project and team according to the designer’s interests. 

“There is a huge number of options and opportunities. If they want to, designers can work on short temporary projects, or they can become permanent members of some team. At OP, you can determine your own career path to a great extent,” Tuomas says.

Designers present in customers’ daily lives

The financial sector may feel foreign to many design professionals. Manninen would like to change this perception. OP’s services are closely present in the daily lives of millions of people in Finland.

Recently, OP’s designers have been planning a new umbrella concept for daily finances. Old consumer services for the management of daily finances have been developed into a more customer-oriented direction, and new applications are being designed continuously. Processes for the management of daily finances are also being developed on the corporate side, where designers are working on possibilities brought about by robotics for, say, payment services.

The daily life of customers is always at the heart of design thinking, whether the customers are consumers or companies.

“We always listen to the users. We calculated that 2,500 OP customers participated in service development within one year. I think this says a lot about how actively we communicate with our customers and take into account their daily life, wishes and needs. We don’t just hole ourselves up to create cool stuff,” Tuomas says.

Design guild brings people together

When the days are passed in multi-disciplinary expert teams, sometimes one needs support from experts in one’s own field. A while back, Designers decided to set up a community for themselves, called Design-kilta (Design guild). In an instant, the guild has become an active and tight-knit community, bound together by a similar way of thinking and by sharing experiences.

“According to my supervisor Saija Antikainen, a team is the factory where you work. The Design guild could then be described as the village community where you spend the rest of your time,” Tuomas explains.

All designers within the organisation are automatically members of the design guild. Active guild members keep in touch almost every day, and there are meetings at least once a month. Designers share their experience and knowledge with each other, spar and talk about career development at OP.

“Someone might think that you’ll be all alone in the financial world, drowning in the depths of some corporation. I have to say it’s quite the contrary at OP. Not only is OP as a workplace a modern and agile community and a fascinating working environment, our design guild brings OP’s designers together in a warm-hearted way.”