Since I joined when the project was already in full swing, my main task in the beginning was to get up to speed as quickly as possible.
Once I was fully immersed and working independently, I met often with key collaborators - particularly the product manager and the front-end lead - to discuss the next tasks that had already been roughly laid out in previous sprint planning. Quick iteration was key here.
Overall, the process that I experienced doesn't strictly adhere to the "ideal" design process - but that's just reality sometimes. It wasn't just design having to be more flexible about process; the whole team had to exercise their judgment along the way. The good news is that I became much more observant of processes that worked and didn't work, and much quicker to make suggestions.
Here's a summary of what the process looked like for me:
1. Get up to speed
I learned how conversations are structured and created, as well as the goals and existing processes of the project. Since I'd never done conversational design before, there was a bit of learning curve.
2. Develop requirements and mockups
While we had a high-level roadmap and preexisting architecture to work from, many of the details still had to be hashed out. I created mockups based on discussions and in-progress requirements, which went to critique with the core team - and we repeated this loop until everything was ready.
3. Gather feedback and do proactive research
Our users were internal teams, so we had more access to them than we might have otherwise. We built relationships with them, both informal and formal (so as to limit unintended bias). Since the platform and the work of creating a bot is very complex, having ongoing relationships with the same users was extremely advantageous - we would have had a much harder time recruiting the right users from the general population.
We worked in an agile structure, but due to the size of the project and the team, I had to take the impact of even seemingly small changes very seriously. Luckily, I had close collaborators who were more than willing to fill me in.
5. Design process
Because I inherited the project as the sole designer a couple months in, I thought a lot about design's role within the project. I'm continuing to work on ways to improve on this front - including but not limited to a design system, component library, and aligning design versions with development versions. I think that with any project, one of design's responsibilities is to build a sustainable structure that allows designers to be creative, but still efficiently deal with all of the constraints.