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Why athenahealth rocks for designers

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

A colleague from our engineering team asked me the other day why I am always so positive and optimistic even when it seems things are so ambiguous? It’s easy – I love my team, I love where I am and as a designer I thrive in ambiguity. Because I love what I do, I can see beyond a tough day or an unexpected turn. Here are a few reasons why I think athenahealth is a great place for a designer, and I hope that some of these resonate with you:

Access To Users

So far I have worked on 4 major and several minor projects in my 2+ years at athenahealth. None of the major releases went out without me talking to the users directly. Whether it is web design for athenahealth.com or a $50 million per month grossing payment portal called QuickPay, whether my customers are external or internal, whether they are in USA or in India, I always have access to users and ample opportunity to test the rubber before it hits the road.

Learning Opportunities

It takes some time, effort, guidance from mentors, failures and success for you to up-skill. At athenahealth, I have been able to find the mentors in the right areas to guide me.

I have been allowed the room to make mistakes and learn from them

That one statement from your leader, “It’s ok to fail”, makes all the difference. And I think the organizational support and infrastructure backs all of this. Our cute little UX library at Bangalore UX studio, the UX conferences that we sponsor and attend, our extensive knowledge hub on confluence are perfect examples of this.

Optimum Challenge For A Designer

As a big fan of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work in psychological concept of flow, I believe the balance of skill and challenge play key role in a person’s state of happiness. In my last 2 years, I have noticed that the choices of work made available to me always hit this sweet spot. I was never asked to pull a Steve Jobs-like work, neither was I asked to “just paint the wireframes”. My work on athenahealth.com is the biggest example of this.

A Plan For Moving Up

At athenahealth, there is a very well-defined growth path both for individual contributors, and for managers. In a growing career, you jump through cohorts and keep growing to taking more responsibility, delivering more and drawing fatter pay-checks 😉.

Finds the right balance between sticking to plans and adjusting them to changing conditions.

Security And Stability

I have worked for start-ups (like Zivame) as well as tech giants (like Cisco). I fully appreciate the power that a start-up gives you to go make a difference. But it comes at the cost security & stability. And while the giants give you the latter, they kill your freedom and constraint you heavily. Athenahealth is neither. With 6k employees and a billion dollars in annual revenue, it is optimally sized to be secure and stable enough for those who want to make a difference. It can afford to allow you a runway before you take a flight. And it can also be prepared for a crash landing.

Technicality Over Creative Talent

See for yourself what I mean here.

Design Briefs At My Previous Companies

PM: We need a new experience for our customers as our old product looks dated and we are getting bad feedback from our customers. Can you give me something refreshing and out-of-the box? Me: That’s great. I have a lot of questions though.

Design Briefs At athenahealth


About One Hundred Designers

Sounds too many? Actually no. We’re still under-staffed. athenahealth has 1400+ employees in the R&D org. That would mean 200+ scrum teams. So if you calculate, we’re not even 1 designer per scrum team. And that means, we have to say ‘no’ to a lot of things and we get to focus only on the pieces that matter the most for the business. On the same hand, a 100 member strong design team means you have a lot of support. You name it, we have it:

  1. Generalists & Specialists

  2. Strategists & Researchers

  3. Mentors & Managers

  4. Rockstars

Just find your corner and settle in!

Agile Rules Us All

Of all the benefits that being an agile scrum designer grants you, I think the most powerful one comes from the following mantra I keep throwing at my engineers:

Just like your code, my design has bugs. And I like to fix them just like you do!

athenahealth by large follows an agile process. There’s objectives, goals, initiatives, plans, releases and sprints. You get the luxury to work on bite-sized pieces and make incremental enhancements. You get to learn and iterate. You get to work together with you scrum team as an embedded designer. That teaches you a lot and gives you immense amount of control at all the stages of product design and implementation. You’re always in the thick of things!

There’s Flexibility

Time, Place and Tools don’t matter. Output does. We enjoy working flexible hours. George comes in late (more like 11am), where as I am generally the earliest one (like 8 am). Work from the UX studio, from your home or from your workstation, it doesn’t really matter much, as long as you’re sincere and responsible. Use Sketch or Adobe, Invision or Principle, or whatever, it doesn’t really matter as long as you follow the process. athenahealth provides you a great deal of flexibility, and in my opinion, it really enhances our productivity.


And There’s Fun

As much as I love to talk about this topic, I’ll restrain myself to talking about only a few examples:

  1. Ice-cream treats – Yeah, it has to be no. 1

  2. Netflix – of course in the UX Studio!

  3. Board Games – guess who wins all the time ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  4. Healthy Lunches – Blame it on Tara, our rockstar designer

  5. Work – of course our work is fun!

Conclusion

athenahealth design team is an excellent place for a designer to be. It provides a perfect balance of challenging work, excellent learning & growth, and of course a great working environment.

Originally published on LinkedIn

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