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Pega Catalyst™: Applying design thinking principles to speed digital transformation

Baruch Sachs and Leanne Russell, Log in to subscribe to the Blog

Pega Catalyst™ helps organizations transform successfully to the digital enterprise, reduce costs, increase speed to market, and simply design better solutions. I sat down with Baruch Sachs, Vice President of client innovation, to discuss the program and learn more about how it’s helping organizations define their digital transformation project goals.

Q: What is Pega Catalyst™?

Pega Catalyst™ is an approach to help organizations understand, not only what the design problems are that they need to solve, but also how to solve them. It helps you look at your journeys in a very different way than the more traditional requirements gathering or customer interviews. It’s a way to help organizations understand the transformations they want to make in a more holistic fashion.

Q: Why Pega Catalyst™? What are the challenges organizations face when implementing new software?

We’re finding many companies just don’t know where to start. Almost every large organization is on a digital transformation journey, but they don’t necessarily feel they are moving fast enough or in the right direction. No one has ever said, “You know what, we’re really successful at this digital transformation journey. We’ve found our way, and we really know what we’re doing!”

For example, if your organization is unhappy with your call center software, you may look to implement new call center software. Which is fine, but that’s really tactical. What if you actually thought about the fact that the phone channel is dying due to changing ways customers want to interact with organizations, and – while you need to still capture that channel – how do you integrate it with the web channel, and chat, and all the other ways in which people are increasingly communicating and interacting with organizations today?

A lot of customers throw “things” at a problem to solve it. They’ll say “I need robotics, or I need artificial intelligence, or I need decisioning. I need an app to do [fill in the blank].” They don’t really look at sales, service, decisioning, and robotics as a singular end-to-end approach to engaging with their customers.

There’s also been a trend of the right people not being in the room. For example, an organization may have one visionary person who expects the people under her/him to execute his/her vision, but those supporting staff don’t feel empowered to do so. Many times, there are other projects that have been mapped out and are already underway, and a new vision brings new capabilities or new requirements that do not fit within those ongoing, active projects. This type of scenario is a roadblock for innovation.

Q: How does Pega Catalyst™ help organizations overcome those challenges?

Pega Catalyst™ helps you set your vision and transform across the enterprise in a strategic way.

Organizations struggle with innovation – some by structure, some by design. Our job is to jump start that innovation process. The Pega Catalyst™ team helps you understand the players and pick a journey that you want to map out.

Additionally, for every Pega Catalyst™ engagement, we require you to identify an executive-level sponsor, or a route to an executive-level sponsor. This sponsor is in the room for part or all of the Pega Catalyst™ sessions so you can shift priorities for your folks and empower your organizations from the top down.

Q: What differentiates the Pega Catalyst™ approach? What are the features and advantages of this methodology?

At the end of the day, Pega Catalyst™ is an overall approach to how people think about their digital transformation, and that includes design thinking principles, management consulting, and business outcomes consulting.

In enterprise software, people just try to make things happen. They adopt very rigid, internally-focused approaches to business requirements gathering. Those business requirements get distilled into user stories. Those user stories get built. Do they meet the goal? Are they the right approach to user adoption? Do they actually deliver the desired business outcomes? Many times, an organization cannot really answer those questions.

So design thinking is a way to take a step back and think about how you would like something to be designed. It’s an approach that’s been around 50 to 60 years.

Everything we’ve ever built in our lives, everything we’ve ever used in our lives has been designed. When you get a cup of coffee at Starbucks, that whole experience is designed. Everything on our phones gets designed. It’s a certain way because we’ve applied the strategic design approach. Why would we not do this with enterprise software?

The design process requires facilitation, because not everybody believes themselves to be designers, and not everybody knows the full end-to-end part of that design. Think about it metaphorically. Without design thinking, you might say, “We bought a piece of land, we dug a hole, now we’re going to build a house.” Compared to a design thinking approach where the train of thought is, “We bought this piece of land, but there could be so much more than just a house on this. Let’s figure out how to design what works best for our needs.”

Pega Catalyst™ helps you make the right decisions and implement the right applications.

Q: Who is involved in a Pega Catalyst™ project?

Both the visionaries and the people who do the job need to be in the room. So from a customer perspective, a mix of IT, Business, and C-suite level folks.

On the Pega side, we take a dedicated squad-based approach to each project. Working with your organization is a Facilitator to drive the creative process; quite possibly a Digital Transformation Partner, like an industry vertical person; and a Solutions Consultant/Lead System Architect to help with more technical aspects. That’s it – it’s a pretty lean team. These folks are dedicated to your project.

Q: What are the deliverables for a Pega Catalyst™ project?

Standard deliverables are high-fidelity personas, customer journeys, and working software in Pega. The goal of all Pega Catalyst™ engagements is to deliver value and deliver it quickly. We also capture business requirements that are fed into a case backlog, so when it comes time to fully implement, you are well on your way.

Q: What delivery best practices are followed on Pega Catalyst™ project?

The beauty of Pega Catalyst™ is that we follow industry best practices around design thinking. We strive to make Pega Catalyst™ industry standard with design thinking outcomes and deliverables that can be readily consumed, whether you continue to engage Pega or work with any other organization. The special element that comes into play is the ability to make your designs “real” and visualize the possible using the Pega product.

Q: What kinds of benefits are clients realizing through Pega Catalyst™?

Pega Catalyst™ helps us work in partnership with organizations, well before the implementation begins, to get in front of any issues.

Additionally, when Pega software is used for app development, we have the added benefit of the superiority of our technology and ability to get into the tool and create business applications rapidly and effectively. None of our competitors can do that. Our technology is an ultimate differentiator.

Q: What types of projects are a good match for Pega Catalyst™?

A good fit for a Pega Catalyst™ engagement is one where:

  • Your organization is open to innovation and wants to use cutting edge, game changing techniques to drive digital transformation.
  • Our team works with you to define and prioritize your organization’s intent and/or requirements; your “journey of journeys.”
  • Our team works collaboratively with your organization to see how you could realistically harness the power of AI, robotic automation, and no-code technology.
  • Your organization provides a C-suite level sponsor.

Note that a client or potential client doesn’t need to have purchased a Pega product prior to initiating a Pega Catalyst™ project. The goal is to work with you to show you what is possible.

Q: How is Pega Catalyst™ different from Pega’s Rapid Delivery™ consulting services?

Our Rapid Delivery implementation approach is the execution of the strategy and design created through Pega Catalyst™.

Pega Catalyst™ projects happen before any implementation project is scheduled, and you have multiple options depending on your needs:

  • A 2-day workshop that helps you understand where to start and what could be possible for a single journey.
  • A 1-week session that really goes into the design sprint, and where thinking progresses to actually sprinting and building something that can be played back and tested. This 1-week session brings the vision of 1 to 2 journeys to fruition to show that the ideas can become working software.
  • A 3+ week session that has larger ramifications, such as focusing on business outcomes that can transform many journeys, with a suggested phased approach to implementation.

The deliverables from a Pega Catalyst™ project can flow into a Rapid Delivery project, and in certain instances – for example, a 30-day project – these services can happen in parallel.

Q: Where can I learn more on Pega Catalyst™?

Check out the page that highlights our design thinking principles and includes additional info and links to topics like Agile and delivery best practices. You can also watch our PegaWorld presentation, "Introducing Pega Catalyst™: Embrace Digital Transformation Through Design Thinking."

Additionally, reach out to our Pega Catalyst™ team directly by emailing us at [email protected]

Learn more:

  • Discover how a design thinking approach empowers you to create effective business applications in as little as a few days – while setting the stage for long-term transformation.
  • See how our Pega Express methodology uses low-code to turn design thinking into delivery.
  • Watch how Motor Insurers’ Bureau used design thinking to rapidly generate, test, and validate their customer-focused solution.
  • Learn how Pega Consulting works as your strategic partner for success.
  • Join us at PegaWorld iNspire and learn how the world’s leading organizations are using a design thinking approach to improve operations and customer experience.

Pega Catalyst

Virtual or in-person workshops empower you to deliver positive change for your customers, your people, and your bottom line.


Solution Area: Operational Excellence Topic: Business Agility Topic: Digital Transformation Topic: Low-Code Development

About the Author

Baruch Sachs: As Vice President of Client Innovation, Baruch Sachs helps Pega’s global clients develop new ways to streamline operations, improve customer experience, and create real transformation.

Leanne Russell, managing editor of Pega’s blog, helps high-tech leaders share their knowledge, experience, and success stories.

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