Home-made Pattern Series 1

A design pattern is a general reusable solution to a commonly occurring problem within a given context in software design…Patterns are formalized best practices that the programmer can use to solve common problems when designing an application or system.

from Wiki

In my view, pattern concept can be applied in many other domains. A classic example is applying Lean concept from manufacturing to IT startup. It’s a bridge from the high-level strategy or original idea to the final deliverable. To select the suitable pattern plays a critical role to ensure getting what we expect. We can understand pattern here as something like:

  • A basic structure to launch new business model
  • A best-practice approach to implement change
  • A framework to design a new product

Homemade Pattern Series is basically based on my own learning experience. It focuses on introducing concept of patterns and how to use those patterns in cross-domain context. I hope it can serve as a knowledge base for future work of me and others, if possible.  The importance of such best-practice structure/approach/framework is always forgotten, if not totally ignored, in our high-speed and high-pressure business environment.

Today’s series are about people and connection among them.

Patter I: Key User Network

Key User Network

  • Where it’s commonly used

For large-scale information system implementation with huge number of system users (end-users), like ERP of a MNC; thousands users are going to transactions in EPP on daily basis and it’s impossible for the core team to reach to all the users to conduct training or connect information. Key users are selected from departments within the cooperation.  They will represent his or her home group of end users to raise business requirement and accept advanced-level training; they will in turn coordinate within the group to train others and help embed the change. They are trainers to be trained and change agent to be changed by the core team; and then they will serve as an agent to embed new ways of working and initiate change from the ground.

  • How to apply the pattern

We can use the same pattern whenever we want to launch change or improvement program impacting a large number of people, which may also have geographical and language diversity.  By deeply engaging the key persons, the network among them can help push or even accelerate the change program.

  • Example

Dreamforce of Salesforce.com: annual conference and on-going program to engage client and it’s a win-win solution to help client to leverage on its product and help product marketing for salesforce.com.

A new program launch in Asia of an agriculture company is aimed to change normal farmers’ practice to plant crop.  Its first step is to engage the lead farmers (the most respected farmers in the village or whoever has better yield than average) who can serve as a convincing model on the ground to encourage the other farmers to join the same program.

Patter 2: Hub (Agent)


  • Where it’s commonly used

With the trend of IT outsourcing and offshore support center, helpdesk (Central Service Hub) is used to receive call/email from end users and help them solve IT related issues. For customer, it’s just something not working and it’s difficult for them to identify the root-cause; from technical support point of view, it can be computer hardware related issue, software-related issue, or even infrastructure problems.  Such a service center has the ability to handle a considerable volume of calls/emails at the same time, and forward them to different qualified support team, and to log incident for service management purpose.

  • How to apply the pattern

When customers  (like users)and suppliers (like IT supporting team)are structured differently (not matched as one-to-one dialogue), a central hub can be set up to  facilitate the service or procurement request  from the customer by finding the right supplier, no matter for physical product or service request.  It’s a single face to requesting side (customers) and help coordinating supplying side (suppliers) to provide resources. It can be a virtual hub where agents in the central hub can sit in different locations.  Beside, a hub can consolidate the request from different customers and therefore, has the potential to use resource more efficiently and own better barging power when negotiating with suppliers.

  • Example

Regional hub for supply chain: Customer Service and Procurement center who receives procurement request from different subsidies and purchases on behalf of them from suppliers.  Such regional hub can be a virtually financial hub which means the physical goods still goes for the best shipping line. Especially, by setting hub in the location with lower corporate tax rate, a MNC company can have significant tax saving.

In complex cooperate environment, business partner (Finance, Procurement, HR, Information System) is also using similar concept. Business partners support one business function or territory by facilitate business requirement in their own professional domains. For example, Information system business partner for sales team can help pull in the resource to support a new CRM system launch, from infrastructure set-up, system selection and building-up functionalities, to final go-live; HR business partner is supporting commercial team from recruit, talent development, performance management to retirement.

An extreme case is that if the hub’s service is routine enough, it can be replaced by automatic process, a classic example is B2C or B2B on-line platform like Amazon or Ebay.

Patter 3: Personas

User Profile

  • Where it’s commonly used

A persona is commonly used for user experience design. The technique was popularized for the online business and technology community in Allan Cooper’s book The Inmates are Running the Asylum in 1999.

Develop a precise description of our users and what he wished to accomplish. Personas are not real people, but they represent them throughout the design process. They are hypothetical archetypes of actual users.

The Inmates are Running the Asylum.

The assumption here is detailed functionalities of IT tools are serving the purpose to complete tasks which are to achieve the goals, which are defined by personas. We can use personas to understand goals, abstract tasks and sort out detailed functionality and features of our new product and future channels for the product to each customer.

  • How to apply the pattern

It can be used to design new products impacting a huge amount of people, especially when the new products will have customer-facing interface, be impacted by or impact behaviors of the customers. It can be an actual device, software, APP, new business model with targeted customer segmentation, or even a new team within an organization. Such an approach can help abstract what typical customer want, what are their pain points, and how the new product or team can bring value to their journey of accomplishing goals.

  • Example

To make a company’s product platform sticky to the final customers, one commonly used approach is to provide a consolidated solution to them, like from selling software and hardware separately expecting customers to put pieces together to delivering a combined solution, or from selling seeds and chemical independently to deliver a whole package even including service. Personas can be powerful design tool to help us understand how to position our offer and drive the whole design.

A company internal service department introduces a new team focusing on improving internal client experience. Client profile can be used here to understand what their client’s pain points are and how the new team to contribute their client’s work.


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