A monthly service that helps senior enterprise product and UX leaders sustain their design team's velocity without business disruption—so you can focus on hiring your next permanent design leader.
Is your ongoing UX leadership gap putting too much people and product work on your plate?
Tired of not having time to focus on recruiting?
Are your customers or business stakeholders starting to feel the impact of this gap?
Is your design team strong...but they need more support than you can give them?
Hiring good design management takes time, especially in today's hot UX market where Covid-19, work-from-home, and other factors have created a very dynamic employment environment. (I hear it's taking 4-12 months in my chats with senior design and product leaders).
At some point, you and your colleagues can't keep working 60+ hours/week to cover everything. Eventually, product quality, team velocity, or even team morale may degrade—not to mention your sanity.
When it does, either your stakeholders, customers, or YOU will start to experience these types of challenges:
- The team isn't reacting efficiently to changing business priorities
- Fire drill and short-term work starts to take over the design team's plate
- You see lots of design output from the team, but not necessarily outcomes
- Without air cover, your ICs are less able to provide the right "check" to their engineering, product, SMEs, and business colleagues.
- User research and long-term strategy work takes a back seat or disappears
- The design team's hard-earned influence or power can begin to diminish
- You won't see it until they arrive, but the incoming leader will be inheriting a much more difficult situation on day 1 (people, process, products, etc.)—making it harder for them to show value quickly
Wouldn't you rather devote your time to the bigger problem: finding the best, new FT UX leader you can?
If so, I can help keep your UX team focused on producing outcomes instead of outputs while you focus on your hiring. Here's how:
The (6) Key Benefits of My Fractional Design Leader Service:
- Maintain the velocity and quality of your design team's work—with a focus on producing outcomes instead of outputs:
You probably have a design process and culture; my goal is to keep the team’s velocity up within the the culture you already have—not to introduce a new one.
- Tap 25 years of design experience primarily focused in enterprise software:
I specialize in enterprise software, particularly services utilizing analytics / ML / data science. Since 2006, I have exclusively focused on B2B with domain experience in SAAS, fintech, IT/cloud/data center management, travel, legal, government, and healthcare.
- Provide coaching and design leadership guidance to your team—so they need less management:
Today's new business idea may be tomorrow's UX fire drill; I'll help the team react appropriately when the business needs change. I'll also help them learn to negotiate those difficult engineering and product management situations—so your customers ultimately come out ahead.
- Keep the team focused on high-value work, so fire drills don't take over:
Without leadership, short-term engineering and product demands can take over. I'll help you stay on top of the work that really matters, and help your team do the same. Many teams are focused on generating artifacts and outputs; I will encourage your team to focus on downstream outcomes.
- Get outside, objective feedback on your open FT leadership job description (optional)
On request, I can review your FTE job description, candidate portfolios and respond to questions about FT candidates you’re considering—but only if you seek my help.
- Accelerate the onboarding of your new FT hire (optional)
I will have to learn about your product, culture, and domain. As a neutral outsider, I can help collect, organize, and transfer this knowledge to your new hire in a common language—so they don’t have to spend as much time learning what I did. However, it's optional—if you want me to stay out of your hiring and onboarding, that's ok too.
Brian brings a very high floor in terms of end results. The worst possible end result they will get from him is so much higher than what most designers can provide at their best.
When you’re bringing on a consultant, there is always a level of uncertainty about results, and there’s nothing worse than ending up with solutions that aren’t feasible, workable, or usable at the end of the process. While Brian’s processes differed from what I was used to, and I didn’t always want to get into the level of requirements detail that he felt was necessary, the bottom line is that Brian brings a very high floor in terms of end results. Given how many different responsibilities I am juggling at any given time, it was extremely comforting to know that my goals for the [new Apptopia analytics] product would always be met, and that my bottom line was so high. I’ve recommended Brian to my peers because the worst possible end result they will get from him is so much higher than what most designers can provide at their best.
What To Expect (How This Service Works)
- Coaching - Design Critiques (Limited to Brian + UX ICs only)
We can discuss team challenges, host design review/critiques, and address strategic efforts that affect all members. Format: one 2-hour video call usually on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month.
- Coaching - Design Jams (Limited to Brian + 1 UX lead + 2 optional stakeholders)
If your staff needs an outside opinion on a particular area of the product and wants to work with me and up to two of their stakeholders to get through a roadblock, I will open up (4) 30-min slots usually on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month. Booked via Calendly.
- Monthly Staff 1x1s for Product + People Questions
Team members can request 30-min consultations 1x1 with me via Zoom up to 1x/month per team member. These are meant to focus on product design questions and negotiating tricky situations with engineering and product/business leadership (not career guidance). Booked via Calendly.
- Fractional Advisory Retainer for You and the Team
Get 1-on-1 access to me M-F, 10-6pm ET (time adjustments may be accommodated for non-US clients). Access breaks down like this:
- Via Slack: Unlimited access for you, the new hire, and your team until 4 weeks past the start date of your new FT hire—or you cancel service.
- Via phone: You, and the new hire, will also have phone access to me throughout the engagement or until the start date of your new hire. After the start date, the new hire (only) can still contact me for (4) weeks via phone with transition questions.
- 1x1 Monthly Stakeholder Alignment Call (That's You!)
You and I should touch base at least once a month for 15 to 30 minutes. We will also use this time to review progress on the draft PPP Onboarding Plan if you are taking advantage of that.
- The PPP Onboarding Plan to accelerate your new hire (optional)
PPP means "people, products, and process." Let me help ramp your new leader up into their new role informed by interviews, observations, and my experience working with your team. You can also integrate my insights into your own onboarding process if you have one. This includes:
- Delivery of the PPP Onboarding Plan (optional)
Near the end of the engagement, we'll have a (1) hour Zoom call to deliver the onboarding plan to the new hire and you, and discuss any issues.
- New-hire transition support for (4) weeks
From their date of hire, your new hire will get 24/7 Slack access to me for four weeks. They also have the option to set up one (30)-min support call each of these weeks (via Calendly).
- Delivery of the PPP Onboarding Plan (optional)
- 1x1 Exit Debrief and Organizational Insights Summary
Get my outside, objective impressions about the state of your product/team/processes and opportunities I may have noticed during my time working with your team. I can also surface any "slow-burn" problems I may see so you can begin to head them off early.
Availability & Start Date
- My availability is extremely limited for this service.
- Start date: at checkout when purchasing this service, you can select your start date, however the first step is to set up a free Discovery Call to discuss your needs and my availability.
Wait, who is this Brian O'Neill guy anyways?
I'm a consulting product designer specializing in enterprise software and even more specifically in analytics and ML applications. I've been a designer for over 25 years helping major enterprise companies including DellEMC, NetApp, JP Morgan Chase, Fidelity, Roche Diagnostics, MITRE, and others. You can check out my About page, Case Studies, and Client Testimonials to get a feel or listen to my podcast.
100% “No-quitters” Money-Back Guarantee: if during the time I am engaged with you, a valued, FT employee quits due to my engagement and tells you this was the specific reason they left, I will refund any amount of my fees to you on request—up to 100%.
- The base price is $16k/month payable via credit card online. This price includes access for up to (5) staff members and you. The service auto-renews monthly until cancelled per the terms in the FAQ.
- Additional staff members (beyond the first 5) are $2k/month, each. A "staff member" may be a manager or an IC; their title doesn't matter.
- Terms: This packaged service is subject to my Consulting, Advisory and Training Terms of Service ("TERMS") referenced above and includes confidentiality coverage. If you need an NDA before we speak, download and sign my mutual NDA here. Two other special terms may apply:
- A 2-month initial commitment is required if you want to take advantage of my help creating the PPP Onboarding Plan (see "How It Works").
- A 3-month initial commitment is required if you need special customization of this service, any amendments or changes to the TERMS, or if payment must be remitted through procurement including any third-party vendors. Pricing is subject to change based on customization.
- After the Initial Commitment period has ended (if applicable as defined above), the service reverts to its standard "month-to-month" format and can be cancelled as outlined in the FAQ below.
What Happens Right After I Subscribe?
You will get an onboarding email from me that will explain the next steps to get us rolling. You'll need to collect some materials for me so I can get ramped up about your business, products/apps, staff members, design work, etc. We will also have a kickoff meeting with the team to discuss logistics, scheduling, how we'll work together, etc.
When Brian came on board, he helped us significantly accelerate our design efforts and meet our major enterprise clients’ expectations and deadlines. We have gotten a lot of mileage out of his work, and we've received good responses from our customers. I can’t recommend him enough.
- Won't this be a tax on my time before I get value out of Brian's help?
I realize onboarding even temporary help may feel like incurring a time tax. My goal is to minimize the time you need to spend with me so you're able to focus on hiring a FT leader. Additionally, when we do need to speak, I will be capturing the information I learned in a way that—with your permission—can be shared with your new hire. This will accelerate their onboarding, and reduce the need for you to start at square one when they join your team.
- "Our domain/industry/product is unique; it will take too long to explain it to you."
Yup; everyone says that 😉 And you're right, designers are better when they know the domain they're working in. However, I'm not designing your product in this service—the team is. After 25 years working in a variety of domains—many being quite technical—I've also learned how to accelerate how I absorb new domains, and more importantly, how to enable a team (vs. myself) to come up with the right solutions by knowing the right questions to ask at the right time.
- Will Brian be doing design execution work for us?
No. This service is advisory in nature, so I will not be providing any comps, wireframes, leading ideation sessions, UIs, conducting user research, writing use cases, managing sprints, and the like under this service offering. I'm there to help make sure your team is doing this work as efficiently as possible.
- Is Brian acting as our senior voice for product/UX design and advising our senior engineering and product management leadership on strategy and vision?
This is available, but is not included in this service. This Fractional Design Leader service is primarily focused on serving the team so that you can get some relief. If you need me to also advise you and/or your senior colleagues in product and engineering, this would be a customization we would have to discuss on our Discovery Call.
- Can we use Email or MSFT Teams during this engagement?
No. Written communication will take place in Slack via a Private Channel I will set up for you and the team.
- Is this an "interim" or "management" service?
No. First off, it is fractional, not interim. What’s the difference? Most interim positions are “full-time, for a limited period.” Unlike a FT contractor, I will not be managing the day-to-day projects, careers, and sprints of your design team and should not be seen as a replacement for that. I'm also not there to manage the careers of your staff (not that they would trust me to do that as a fractional leader anyways). I am focused on ensuring your partners and customers are happy, you're plate is being relieved of extra duties, and that your team is producing the best work they can during this temporary period.
- Can I cancel any time?
Yes, it's month to month, although you must cancel at least 7 days prior to your monthly renewal date. No refunds will be given for partial months once a renewal has been processed. A few exceptions to this apply when a minimum multi-month commitment is required: see the Pricing section.
Until Brian came in to help us, nobody could see a strategic direction. It's nice to [...] finally feel like we're on the same train as the leadership team. [We have] a better sense of what stakeholders need to see and how that relates to what we get to work on.