How PepsiCo’s Design Team Scaled Together

PepsiCo is one of the world’s most recognizable brands. Pepsi products are enjoyed over 1 billion times per day in over 200 different countries (yes, you read that right). In 2019, PepsiCo created PepsiCo eComm, a team dedicated to adapting the PepsiCo brand to the ever-changing modern digital economy with exciting new products and platforms. As eCommerce sales grew by leaps and bounds throughout the pandemic in 2020, the PepsiCo eComm team also began to grow rapidly.
Amidst the rapid growth, Diana Yee, Lead Product Designer; Jamie Lin, Sr. Product Designer; and Chris Richards, Sr. Software Engineer got together and decided to use Zeplin to scale the design team together and maintain visibility between design, development, and product management.
Over the past two years, the PepsiCo eComm team has more than doubled in size. At Harmony, our user summit, Diana, Jamie, and Chris shared how they scale the design team using Zeplin to accommodate this growth with minimal hiccups.

Diagnosing the problems and growing pains

Before deciding how to best scale the design team, PepsiCo looked at the challenges stemming from accelerated growth. While the original team of only four members could easily communicate, rapid growth was making it difficult to keep track of projects. Product managers lacked visibility into the workflow, and design team members were scattered across various tools that kept teams siloed.
“When Pepsi eComm was growing, there were legacy design teams that we needed to collaborate with,” says Diana, “They actually had their own legacy software that they were using. This started to cause a problem because I’m not interested in having them adapt to a new [design] tool when what they were doing was just fine.”
Diana realized she wanted a collaborative space that still gave everyone the flexibility they needed to create their best work — which is when the eComm team began looking at Zeplin as a solution.

Using Zeplin’s shared platform as a solution to scale the design team

Diana, Jamie, and Chris brought in Zeplin to allow each design team to continue using their preferred design tool, whether that be Adobe XD, Sketch, or Figma. Zeplin allows team members to work as they prefer while bringing ongoing projects together onto a single collaborative tool. This gives all team members, including those in design and elsewhere, visibility into one another’s ongoing projects.
“Even though I’m not necessarily collaborating immediately with some of Jamie’s working files, [Zeplin] gave me visibility into how her problems were being solved and what her design system was starting to look like,” notes Diana.
Not only does Zeplin allow the eComm team to understand precisely where each project stands, but it allows stronger communication on individual projects. Developers, designers, and product managers can easily state any concerns or suggestions.
“I can comment in the Zeplin project, and the designers can respond, and we can have a whole discussion. So when we deploy the app, the product manager isn’t looking at the app going, ‘Wait a minute, this isn’t what I meant,’ because they were part of that conversation,” says Chris, Sr. Software Engineer at PepsiCo. “This solved a lot of our pain points and made us become productive quickly.”

Remaining flexible for future growth

Diana noted how the ever-changing landscape of technology means there’s no way of knowing what design tools designers at PepsiCo will prefer to work with in a few years. Zeplin’s ability to be tool-agnostic allows any preferred design tool to integrate into the system. This gave PepsiCo the solution of long-term adaptability they were looking for.
Bringing in Zeplin helped PepsiCo achieve a collaborative shared space that can grow and evolve with the eComm team. As new members join (PepsiCo eComm is still growing, and showing no signs of slowing down any time soon!), they can easily fold into the existing workflows and design systems used in Zeplin.
“Each of us was in our own platforms within our own teams. While we had this vision for a shared overall style, we would still have our own unique needs. Looking back now, when I reflect on the changes that happened after moving to Zeplin, the biggest thing I found really helped my team was how flexible Zeplin was to every stage of growth we had. It really connected us at various milestones.”
— Jamie Lin, Sr. Product Designer, PepsiCo eComm
Experiencing your own growing pains and need a solution to foster collaboration and scale your design teams? Get in touch!