Leveraging Prototypes to Enable Effective Platform Design Sessions

July 7, 2017

It’s Sunday morning and you’re pushing a cart through the cavernous aisles of the local Costco, overwhelmed by all the options and commitment that the product sizes demand. Do you love Nutella enough to buy a 2-pack of super-sized jars? How can you be sure that you’ll go through a gallon of salsa before it goes bad?

The same uncertainty has caused many platform design sessions to be stalled with a long list of open items to be discussed at a later time. Although all parties may agree that the current state needs to change, opinions vary on what the future state should look like. These different perspectives must be reconciled into a design that most benefits the organization.

A three-pronged approach has proven to be effective when designing the platform’s future state:

  • Assemble the Core Team

A core team of experts in the company’s culture, business processes, and philosophies should be empowered to be the initial decision makers. Their knowledge and experience with the company is integral to finding a design that best addresses the company’s unique challenges.

  • Design Prototypes

The first time you step foot in a Costco, the warehouse full of tempting products stacked in endless aisles can be somewhat intimidating or downright overwhelming. All the food options hold some appeal and you begin to see the value in a 50-pack of batteries. With all these options to pick from, how can you ensure that your choices are most suitable for your needs?

The future state can be difficult to visualize, especially on an unfamiliar platform. This can make the old processes seem appealing due to their familiarity. In order to avoid circular discussions and building a long list of overdue action items, prototypes of potential design options are instrumental to direct and productive discussions.

Prototypes should target areas that have prompted a great deal of debate or hesitation. While dummy data works, using existing master data enables the stakeholders to have a realistic view of what their processes can look like on the new platform. Once the stakeholders have a clear visual of the new concepts, a consensus can be reached on which option is the best fit for the company.

Deciding which unfamiliar food items to purchase is much easier when samples are provided. Without samples, selecting new food items presents a much bigger risk and we often reach for the items that we know. While these tried and true foods are guaranteed a certain amount of satisfaction, we might be missing out on new and far more delicious products.

  • Feedback Solicitation

While it might seem like a good idea in the moment, committing to a 150-count pack of Tostino’s pizza rolls by yourself is a surefire path to later regrets. Getting others in your group to try a sample might help ensure that you have people to share (or maybe fight over) those pizza rolls with the next time a game is on.

Once a suitable platform proposal has been selected, review the design with other key groups in the organization. This enables leaders to understand the impacts and benefits to their respective areas, prepare for the upcoming changes, and become champions of the new platform across the organization.

Using prototypes is an effective way to drive platform design sessions with key stakeholders. The core team can then spearhead implementation of the new design and processes across the organizations, ensuring that when the changes are executed, user adoption and compliance are optimized.

Kiradawn Nguyen