(Remote, Full Time, Anywhere)
(USD 70-95K annually – see compensation plan details below)
PLEASE NOTE: This is not a UX designer or a UI designer position. This position is primarily concerned with the functional design of the software solution and is focused on making business applications that meet business requirements. Ability to figure out how to create a functional solution is most important in this job. Good UX skills are also necessary for the position but they are secondary.
We are a company that makes custom software solutions for small businesses with complex operational flow in specific niches such as custom manufacturing, concierge medicine, and financial services. The purpose of our software solutions is to automate parts of their business operations by having the software solutions either completely automate the execution of various business tasks or automate the organization, delegation or management of such tasks. These solutions are custom and are composed of internal business systems (such as heavily customized and functionally extended by us CRM and ERP systems) combined with the external systems (such as client portals) and various back end connections that allow to interact with external parties as needed.
The product designer in our company is an individual who makes functional software decisions for each of our projects, designs and defines all of the functionality and how it needs to be carried out based on the well defined business requirements and detailed business processes that are put together and documented by our business consulting team. The designs produced by the product designer are also serving as functional specification for the software engineering team that builds the software solution based on these functional designs. As such the product designer is fully responsible for all functionality of the software solution they are in charge of and it is their job to make sure that the produced solution fully meets the business requirements and ends up doing the business job.
We are looking for responsible people who are genuinely interested in designing quality working and functioning software products and want to work in our no-nonsense environment focused on production and results with straightforward management and rewards for meaningful completed production.
Context of the Job
About the Company
Deep Consulting Solutions (“DCS”) is a provider of high quality automation solutions for small businesses in custom manufacturing and concierge services industries. Our clients have businesses that require a lot of decisions to be made for servicing each of their clients and a lot of manual work has to be done in order to deliver their offering because their services are very personalized to each client. They have trouble growing their operations as it is hard to control these complicated services at scale and without effective supervision they will not be able to provide high quality. What we offer them is the ability to have automation do the supervision and management of the work that needs to be done (by deciding what needs to be done, instructing the employee what to do and then monitor completion), and in some cases carry out the work itself (when tasks can be entirely carried out by software, such as collect and process information) removing or lowering the dependency on humans in the process.
We deliver these automations by creating a custom software solution for each client based on the situation of their business and what will make sense for it. The produced software solution itself is a custom solution that combines several pieces of software such as CRM and ERP systems used for internal organization and processing in the business (which we heavily customize and extend functionally to accommodate our business requirements), custom applications (such as web portals for clients, vendors, partners, etc.) connected to them, and various integrations with third party solutions used in the business process (e.g. data sources, payment gateways, etc.). The overall solution works like a well coordinated integrated system and executes the needed business processes and requirements well and effectively.
In our delivery model, we put a very high emphasis on proper separation of responsibilities and division of labor. We make very clear the distinction between business model and business process decisions, functional software decisions, and technical decisions and we delegate each of them to separate kinds of professionals.
Before we start making any software solutions, our business consulting team will carry out an extremely thorough study of the business operations of the client and build out a detailed business model of their company. The business consulting team will evaluate the business, lay out the business improvements to be implemented by DCS and then create detailed business models and processes which would have all of these business improvements implemented into the actual business process, with all the business model issues sorted out, and detailed business requirements formulated for the software solution that is to be added to this new set of business processes, laying out precise logic and making all the decisions about any unclear business processes. This package of business processes and requirements is thoroughly reviewed and also verified with the DCS client to make sure that fully relevant requirements are formulated for the software team and that no significant ambiguities or requirement changes will need to follow. Only when everything is cleared and approved is the business requirement package passed to the software solution making.
The software solution then is made.
First, the functional design team (consisting of Product Designers assigned to the project) evaluates business requirements and makes sure all is clear and then proceeds to make a detailed functional design of the entire solution, which is carried out through our multi-step process beginning with a high level functional concept only upon which the detailed implementation decisions are made which ends up with detailed designs that are ready to pass to development team. The process also incorporates well-defined review points and involves both the business consulting team to verify business requirements match and the software engineering team to make sure that technically the most sensible and feasible solution is chosen. The process is designed to minimize the need for any refactoring or changes to produced designs and is supposed to catch errors or misunderstandings early on. On completion, the final product is reviewed and approved to go to the engineering team for build.
The engineering team then builds the software solution based on these designs, and should any issues arise during the build process, the engineers will escalate them to the Product Designers and resolve them as needed. The design documentation is also used by Quality Assurance team to test and compare the solution to ensure successful build by the engineering team. Once engineers finish their build, the software solution is tested and assessed for its durability with all bugs subsequently fixed. On completion of build and testing, the design team itself will assess the solution and approve that the build met all of their expectations.
Following that, our business consulting team will plan the business rollout of the solution, once the client approves the implementation. The functional design and engineering team will then be required to carry out the needed steps in the process (e.g. plan information transfer, etc.) such that a functional solution will be implemented.
DCS’s key advantage is the ability to carefully pack tremendous amounts of value and functionality into a fairly quick and relatively inexpensive development and implementation. This is accomplished by sticking to a rigid and efficient waterfall model, whereby there is a very clear understanding of requirements and objectives on each project and these requirements rarely change in the process. DCS serves small businesses that are generally established in their industry and thus have a pretty well tried out business processes and DCS’s scope with the client is well defined and all the business process decisions are made clearly before the project ever gets to the software making. We do not work with startups who constantly change their strategy or with big companies who have trouble deciding on their strategy and have to constantly rethink it and continuously add features to their products – this allows the design team to work with very clear requirements and defined scope – and as such, while some iteration does occur in the process during the various internal review loops, the design team in general is well set up to do things right the first time – it also means that the design team can focus on their key focus area – which is to make functional solutions to meet defined business requirements. The absence of constantly changing requirements also means that all the needed steps in the process can always be executed correctly and diligently and proper attention can be paid to each important consideration.
The design process has 3 key steps that effectively separate dependencies and allow for efficient delivery of projects:
- Functional logic definition. The product designer in charge breaks down the business requirements into functional sections and for each functional section defines the expected functional behavior for the software solution to be built – this defines the front end logic of interaction of software with users as well as the back end logic of the varios states of records and logical entities that are of functional significance to the project – this goes through a review loop with the business consulting team to make sure that there is a 100% match in expectations for the functional behavior of the software solution. Once this is approved, the product designer(s) would break down the software functionalities in defined front end and back end functional components and define the interactions between them and how and where the information will flow and be processed – this will serve as a theoretical self consistent system defining the complete functional performance of the software to be built and serves as the foundation of any further implementation. This also serves as the place for where any questionable business requirements and business logic issues can be completely cleared up and decided on in its own review loop.
- Implementation decision making. For the functional concept defined and approved above, the product designer(s) together with the DCS business owner and the appropriate members of the engineering team, research and decide on what platforms to use where and how in order to create the software solution – platforms can include: custom software development, DCS’s own reusable software components, partner platforms DCS uses (e.g. Zoho CRM and other Zoho Products which are very customizable and extendable), as well as some special niche solutions used for the specific project (e.g. payment gateway, address database service, etc..) – these platforms are always used in combination. The aim of this step is to zero in on which tools to use where and to maximize the gains from using readily available platforms and as result cutting down the development cost of the project in a way that would not reduce the quality of the end solution given to the client. During this step, if necessary, proof of concepts can be carried out to verify that certain platforms can carry out some specific requirements – and if a certain specific set of requirements cannot be accomplished, it may be decided to drop or amend some business requirements and modify the functional concept if this can reduce the project complexity without significant reduction in business value.
- Detailed design of all components. Following the decisions made in the above step, the design team details out all the components of the solution and documents these details. Custom software components will at this point include wireframes for front end and detailed logical flows for back end; readily used platforms will at this point involve specification making for these platforms and defining the detailed functional requirements to be accomplished in them. The product designer(s) on the project during this step focus primarily on the logical parts as well as on reviewing what other members of the design team produce and ensuring it meets the decisions and concepts made in step 1 and 2. Wireframes are produced by dedicated UI designers. CRM setups are built by dedicated CRM Admins who work under the direction and detailed requirements of the product designer(s). Having these roles on the team allows to have product designers focus on the functional and logical aspects of the design, however the product designer still needs to understand all the implementation details and needs to still be aware of everything that is done by the other members of the design team.
Role of Product Designer
The Product Designer is a center person in the design process and assumes the responsibility for the functional solution produced. The main job of the product designer is to meet the business requirements with a functional and effective software solution – as described in detail above.
The Product Designer in DCS is not a UX designer and this job does not involve things such as user research – at this time we do not make apps with tens of thousands of users and we do not need to engage in extensive user feedback collection exercises. This job also is not centered around “empathetic design” or some other UX cliches. The job also does not involve proposing things to clients or running briefings of any kind or negotiating requirements. If you want your job to involve these things, then please do not apply.
UX does have some place in this job, as obviously the software solution produced needs to provide an acceptable UX standard for its situation, which is different – for example, customer facing sales funnel interfaces need to have a relatively high UX standard, however some internal rarely used settings interfaces can do with not-so-good UX, so long as functional purpose is accomplished. User goals also need to be considered when making functional designs, however, they should not necessarily be the main decision driver behind design decisions – the software that DCS makes is made to serve the interests of the owner of the DCS client company – and that interest needs to be best accomplished – decisions about the business goals are made by the business consulting team in advance and are well documented and well explained to the product designer in writing.
The Product Designer, while not an engineer, also needs to have a good understanding of the basics of the technical functionality of the software. It is critical to understand how the software will logically work behind the scenes – and while coding and technical design are not part of this job, understanding of how tech works on the logical level is critical here and the Product Designer, in order to be able to execute the job, needs to be able to understand how technically the functionality will be achieved in order to properly make decisions about implementations.
The Product Designer also needs to understand the platforms that DCS uses – and have a good understanding of the functional capabilities and limitations of them – the Product Designer will need to research them and if necessary direct proof of concepts – the Product Designer will over time be expected to become a functional expert in the various platforms used by DCS – e.g. Zoho CRM, Zoho Books, Zoho Desk, DCS’s own reusable components, etc.
Ways to Be Successful
The Product Designer will be assessed by the quality of solutions produced and by the timeliness and effectiveness of execution. Product Designers who show very good quality at a detailed level consistently and at the same time organize themselves successfully in such a way that they optimize their work for most results are valued by the company. The Product Designer’s solutions speak for themselves, but they also need to be backed up by effective conduct that enables effective production within DCS’s conduct – careful planning and effective organization of the process is essential to be successful in the role long term, of course quality still being most important. It is also critical to pay due attention to matters and exercise due diligence when making design decisions – this has direct impact on the error rate and the consequences of such errors – the fewer errors the Product Designer makes in designs, the more valuable the Product Designer is to the company.
Requirements to Candidates
- Ability to thoroughly understand of how a given piece of software works functionally – understanding how software solutions functionally operate and being able to break down the various processes involved in the functionality of a given piece of software is essential for being able to create workable solutions that follow a defined logic. Technical background can help here but is not required, however strong logical reasoning is essential.
- Ability to properly define software features and other functional requirements – an essential component of the job is to define functionalities of the software and being able to define them properly and correctly is a necessary skill.
- Good understanding of what an acceptable User Experience is in the given context and ability to implement it in the interactions with users – software solutions we make interact with a lot of different users (company staff, clients, partners, vendors, etc.) and it is essential to make sure that the user experience during the interaction is acceptable for the given situation (note that we say “acceptable” not “perfect” – in many contexts perfect or extremely beautiful user experience isn’t necessarily required in each interaction, at minimum the software solution’s user must at all times be clearly informed of what the situation is and what they are supposed to in the business process or what is needed from them, however in some interaction settings (such as customer portals for example) higher UX standard is expected with a higher need for visual cleanliness and appeal).
- Attention to the smallest details and ability to break everything down to smallest pieces and steps – details are critical in this business as there are many fine business requirements that need to be considered and many functional parts that need to be incorporated into a software solution. A person doing this job needs to be able to keep track of small details and effectively combine small details to make big functional solutions that can meet all of the various small requirements.
- Good documentation skill – since everything produced by the Product Designer is then used by the engineering team as functional designs for the solution and effectively as its production blueprint, it is absolutely essential that the person doing this job be able to document designs effectively and deliver them in an easily understandable and easy to break down process.
We are a No-BS small business. The company has around 20 staff members working remotely all over the world and the owner is very heavily involved in running the business – there are no traditional departments, little-to-no middle management, and thus no managers’ egos that need to be appeased – bottom line, the job needs to get done and the deliverables need to be produced to a high quality and the production is all that matters – and that production is closely monitored by the business owner and is then used to evaluate employees and make decisions about them – the owner rewards effective producers and penalizes or expels ineffective ones. The following is expected of every single member of the organization:
- Good self management and self organization – there is no micromanagement provided in this job and people who need to be micromanaged to get something done can’t work here. You need to plan your work and assess your own execution and escalate matters when problems arise – not wait for your manager to spot problems in what you are doing;
- Acceptance of responsibility for one’s actions – this is a tight business and it is expected that you will fulfill your promises and be willing to be held responsible if you don’t – it is understood that at times unexpected things do happen and things can at times take longer – it is expected that you will properly communicate about these issues and take care in the future planning to take matters like this into consideration;
- Ability to handle feedback in an effective way – this business is focused on results and is not about “touchy feelings” – your work will be assessed based on its relevance and you will be provided honest and clear feedback on your work that will reflect its quality and while given with decency and respect, will not be sugar coated – if you get easily offended by criticism please don’t apply;
- Ability to manage your emotions and personal life effectively – as mentioned above, there is little middle management and no “nanny-like” HR managers in this company who take care of employees’ feelings and emotions – this is a professional organization that produces deliverables and that’s what it does – you are expected to take care of your emotional business in your personal life and treat this work professionally – and while we do welcome passion and excitement, we expect mature adults in this organization capable of managing themselves;
- Ability to persevere and get things done – the projects here are quite big and complicated and resilience is required to complete them – we employ and value people who can get things done and complete to the end.
- Ability to focus on getting the result – in this job, there are a lot of considerations to be made and things to think about – it is very important that the person in this job focuses primarily on getting the project done and on what will produce the needed outcome. While a healthy amount of exploration and experimentation is necessary and valuable, it is critical that the person does not engage in endless pondering about things that have little or no significance.
- Fully Remote anywhere in the world;
- Freely Arranged Schedule – you arrange your own schedule as you please and negotiate the need to meet with other team members if necessary between you and them as needed – the expected results from you is agreed upon production and that is what the business cares about;
- Regular Evaluation of Performance By Results Only – your production is assessed by the business owner of Deep Consulting Solution, feedback appropriate is given on a regular basis, and if you deliver good results, you position yourself to get bonuses and raises.
- No Useless Meetings or other appeasement-based activities – our organization works on results basis and does not get paid for hosting useless meetings or carrying out unnecessary show like activities in front of clients. The company also isn’t paid per hour or any other time related measure. The company is paid for completed projects only and offers satisfaction guarantee on its projects (i.e. the company doesn’t get paid if client isn’t satisfied with the quality), hence all we are interested is in getting the project done well and as quickly as possible – thus we do not make our employees do pointless things just for the purpose of client appeasement. The business owner is very adamant about making sure that the staff’s time is not used up on unnecessary exercises and has tremendous respect for the time of professionals employed by him.
Compensation Plan Details
Regular Annual Pay of USD 70-95K which consists of:
- Base Salary which is paid out every month twice per month ranging USD 55-73K annually;
- Monthly Base Bonus where a monthly equivalent is accumulated in a bonus fund every month for the duration of the project you are working on – at the end of the project the fund is paid out – ranging USD 15-22K annually – conditional on you delivering the project successfully.
An exact offer will be given to the successful candidate upon completing the hiring process based on assessed candidate’s ability as evaluated. Above ranges given based on assumption of Middle and Senior candidate levels.
Highly effective and result producing performance can merit additional bonuses. Hired staff is regularly evaluated with appropriate adjustments to pay if applicable. Exceptional and proven staff can get higher responsibilities as the company grows potentially including management functions which will be rewarded accordingly.
- Job Application Form.
- Online pre-screening skills assessment – self-administered.
- Short Interview.
- Practical Test Assignment.
- Evaluation of Assignment and Hiring Decision.
Q: Are specific UI Skills Required for this job?
A: Not really. The UI making, as mentioned above, has been delegated to dedicated UI Designer. The Product Designer will review the UI made by the UI Designer, so an understanding of what makes a good UI is needed, but the Product Designer won’t be making UI in this job, except for perhaps exceptional small occurrences where small and basic UI piece is needed and no UI Designer resource is available – but in such case no high fidelity UI will be necessary.
Q: Does the job involve meeting clients?
A: No (with very small exceptions). As mentioned in the Delivery Process section, the business analysts carry out all the requirements formulation that is done based upon their study of the client business and generally it is the business analyst who plans the implementations and coordinates most client related engagements regarding the project (with the rest being done by DCS Owner). The Product Designer is thus free to focus on the making of the solution and doesn’t get distracted by client engagement or changing requirements (as all requirements are clear upfront). The only rare case when a Product Designer may participate in a client meeting is when presenting a design to the client to get feedback (which is what we do in some projects before passing designs to engineering team, although by far not in all of them as usually the business requirements and processes are clear enough and there is no need for soliciting design feedback from clients and thus no need to spend time on this) – in this rare case the interaction with the client will be led either by the business analyst or DCS Owner, and the Product Designer will be one of the participants of the meeting and will act as an expert of the matters of the solution designed.
Q: Do Leadership Opportunities exist in this job?
A: Yes. While this job posting isn’t directly hiring for a manager or a head of department, if a person who gets hired for the job proves him/herself at the first project(s) and shows a high degree of competence and ability to execute, then it will be well in the company’s interest to promote the person to a head of design team role and give management responsibilities – this could happen potentially as soon as a couple of months into the job. At the moment the business owner is personally managing the design team and would really like to be able to trust somebody else with this job so that the owner can spend more time on marketing, sales and business expansion – however, before this becomes an option, you will need to show your ability to deliver on the project. The business is also quite new and anticipates fast growth in number of projects and will be needing to expand the operation’s capacity.
Q: Is there a mentor available?
A: Yes. While we generally look for people who are competent and capable of delivering, we do understand that even strong candidates may require a bit of up-skilling and help, and we do have a person with extensive and long experience and deep expertise who helped develop our design process and who now works in our company part time and does provide mentoring and review to our product designers. Our expectation, however, is that this mentoring can only serve a supporting role in the person’s development. We expect that you will lead your own development and push yourself to learn and do your own research and practice, while the mentoring from our senior expert will only be there as a supporting force to that – in other words we don’t expect to have to micromanage your learning, but we will give guidance and we will set goals. We also have already conducted several recorded sessions and packaged these recordings into an introductory package that explains our design process and approach which we will be giving you to watch if you get hired.
Q: What growth opportunities are available?
A: There are many. Which ones you will get will depend on you. As already mentioned above, there is a potential for leadership opportunities, but there are also opportunities to become subject matter experts in certain things – specifically as we use different software platforms every project will allow you to learn platforms used in it and eventually you can become a strong expert in a platform or set of platforms and then be able to make platform decisions yourself and as result be a very quick and effective producer here (which will be rewarded with additional bonuses or raises). Also we are working with certain industries, so you could become an expert in certain industry and solutions for issues in it – for example healthcare (one of our focus industries) has some very particular considerations to make about the handling of patient records and there are quite a lot of commonalities regarding them across various healthcare businesses. Our company’s business plan is to grow in our niches, so if you develop specific expertise in specific niche(s) and use this expertise to allow us to serve more clients well then this will be very valuable to the company (and duly rewarded). Also, this is a very flat organizational structure, so if you come up with some suggestions to improve the business operation, the business owner will be very willing to listen to you and take points to consideration and implement them – and if you have meaningful suggestions you will be empowered to implement them and if they work successfully you will be reciprocated.
Q: Will there be Opportunities to create SaaS products?
A: Yes, sort of. As already mentioned, the company does have reusable components on top of which we add custom developments and create end client solutions – this is something we already make and our product designers are involved in designing them – the particularly interesting part of designing them is figuring out how to properly separate and generalize functionality in a way that it will be possible to later connect inputs/outputs of the reusable component to the custom solutions that will be made in such a way that this will be successful and will allow to meet future requirements. A more long term plan for the company is to actually create standalone product offerings which could be either standalone products or extensions for platforms like for example Zoho CRM that could either be used on their own as is or have a customized setup added on top of them – these products would allow to solve specific business problems in industries that our company serves – in fact, there is currently one niche solution that we are considering to turn into a product like that, but we will only share the specifics of that after entering into a comprehensive Non Disclosure Agreement with you. We do plan on involving the more competent and proven Product Designers in this process, so if you show that you are reliable and capable of delivering, you’ll have an opportunity to participate in this.
Q: If everyone is remote and all over the planet, how are meetings arranged?
A: So far we haven’t had any problems coordinating with everybody’s schedules to get the project done. We do not have large corporate meetings going on every day (which are almost always useless in companies that have them), and the only structured meeting that the Product Designers attend is a meeting that is held twice a week on Monday and Friday to coordinate the actions of the design team and the engineering team and check in on open issues. Outside of that, the only meetings that exist for Product Designers are those that arise ad-hoc for project specific needs when something needs to be discussed or clarified and cannot be resolved through text chat or comments and those are set whenever people who need to meet agree to meet. Most communication is handled through written channels and it works very well for everyone.
Have a question that is not answered in the above? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to specify the position title in your email. The question needs to be as specific as possible. Vague questions or questions already answered above will not be receiving a response.