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Creating Effective Coaches


How can we provide clarity to help pharma sales regional directors focus on running their business, instead of spending 20 hours a week in excel wrangling their data?

My Role: 

I was the lead designer and researcher. I worked with client’s key stakeholder to prioritize this work amidst other potential directions. I worked closely with developers and my project lead to understand what was feasible and tie my work to business goals.

​My Impact: 

The wireframes I created enabled regional directors to prepare for their coaching sessions with direct questions. In addition, they would be easy to implement, since the design only required existing data. When the project wasn’t moving forward, I collaborated with key stakeholders to prioritize the project for approval.


What prevents directors from feeling effective? 

When the client initially approached us to support regional directors, I organized the first phase of the project to understand the role of the regional director and why there was a perception that they could be more effective. I started by scheduling more than 30 interviews over the course of 2 months to eventually create journey maps of their key workflows.

In early interviews, directors complained about wasting time dealing with their data. To learn how their time was actually spent, I conducted a diary study with our test group of 12 directors to capture how the leaders spent their days over the course of a month. Directors filled out a daily spreadsheet of how they spent their time, which I validated through screen shots of their calendars. This highlighted where the most time was spent, a major factor in prioritizing projects.

Lastly, I created a reality tree to map out root causes of  pain points that prevented directors from being effective. The tree revealed what issues we could focus tackling based on downstream effects and what my team had control over.

Left: A bar chart of the results of the diary study.

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The reality tree analyzing why regional directors distrusted their information.

Identifying Coaching as an Key Opportunity

After learning what prevented regional directors from being effective, my team had to decide how our efforts could best support them. The client chose time savings as our measure of success, which led us to focus on helping directors prepare for the coaching sessions with their direct reports, the sales managers. At the time, directors were supposed understand how their managers worked by reviewing their work directly. This was so poorly organized and tedious that most directors skipped this step. Those that didn't skip it reported that it would take them at least 1-2 hours every single day.


In addition to being a big time waster, my team focused on coaching because we were already supporting the managers in their day to day tasks. We already had access to the data necessary to provide the regional directors with a better window into how the sales managers were working.


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Example Wireframe Screen

Designing the Screens + Flow

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Once our key client stakeholders agreed that coaching was a priority, I designed, and iterated upon, wireframes for an MVP, reusing existing design patterns. I led 10 user tests to ensure we were going in the right direction, focusing on data that led to “aha!” moments where regional directors saw new questions they could ask their managers. In addition to wireframes, I provided a clickable prototype and mapped out the screen flow, measures of success, plus "nice to have" features for future versions to ensure a new team could pick up the project right where I left off.


Clickable prototype of the designs with notes for knowledge transfer.

Keeping the Project Moving

After the project was put on hold, I met with one of our key advocates at the client and led him through the designs for the app. Immediately after that meeting, he found the budget to move the project forward and add it to the prioritized backlog. Once the project starts, the team will monitor time savings for the  regional directors and changes in how they feel about their coaching conversations. These metrics will both inform how successful this project was and inform future releases to ensure regional directors are equipped with the right information to be as effective as possible.

“You have no idea how much time this will save. This is incredible! ... This is a no brainer on advocating for it."

-Client advocate

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