Case Study: Understanding Telstra’s partner experience

How I changed ways their partners could interact.

Written by
Joshua Holmes
Published on
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Telstra's Partner program is a high priority for Telstra Enterprise as they look at new ways to serve their customers and accelerate the growth of their Enterprise business.

Channel partners allow Telstra to meet customer's business challenges by combining their world class networks and expertise with partner business expertise, solutions and managed services.

Telstra Partner Central is an online tool built using Salesforce Communities.

The creation of Telstra Partner Central is a new way of collaborating between partners and Telstra’s direct sales force. It is the first time Telstra has had a platform allowing the two sales forces to collaborate in real time.


After building an MVP of Partner Central, and prior to national launch, I was engaged with a new team to discover the gaps in the feature set. We were set to investigate with our partners and present a recommendation back to the Indirect Channel team.

My Role

Leading the wireframing, testing and prototyping sections of the project, I ensured our discovered features were always up to date. Another important element was keeping stakeholders involved and up to date, working between our project lead, product owner and business sponsor.

The Telstra Enterprise transformation journey

Due to disruption in the telecommunications industry Telstra needs to radically simplify its products, eliminate customer pain points and create all-digital experiences.

The Approach

Zero based design

Using zero based design and design thinking principles, the team came together to identify pain points and feature gaps. It was imperative to keep the users needs at the heart of every step of the process.

  • Formulate a valid hypothesis from an internal ZBD workshop.
  • Conduct early and frequent user testing with initial and revised wireframes to unveil pain points and new learnings.
  • Define our MVP.
  • Focus on research and testing results to refine features that users really need.
  • Present the work to our stakeholders using research results, prototypes and a shareable final pack for backlog prioritisation.

The Design Process

Initial discovery revealed a number of pain-points
Initial discovery revealed a number of pain-points

Zero based design workshop

To discover our key capabilities, systems and processes for an ideal partner experience, we took our business sponsors and stakeholders through a ZBD workshop.

From here, we were able to clearly articulate and understand the ideal target state for the business and our partners.

This information was then fed into initial wireframes and formed the basis of our interviews and research.

We completed over 20 interviews at Telstra Vantage
We completed over 20 interviews at Telstra Vantage

Interviews and testing

We kicked off at Telstra Vantage, interviewing over 20 partners in just one day, including testing some initial feature wireframes.

This enabled us to dig deeper into our partner pain points and find new opportunities that hadn't been discovered previously.

Over the course of the project, the interviews allowed me to iterate the designs and narrow down to four key feature sets.


Prior to commencing interviews, I had already created the first iteration of our wireframes for several features. This enabled me to jump straight into testing from the very first interview.

Early and frequent testing, a somewhat quick and dirty approach, not only saves a fortune in development time, but tells me if an idea is really valuable. Or even better, tells me if I've misinterpreted what users really needed.

All of my low fidelity wireframes enabled me to iterate much faster, showing new, more succinct feature versions with each round.

I used a mixture of tools, including Balsamiq, Photoshop and InVision to rapidly test iterated wireframe.

Wireframes were created early and iterated on rapidly
Wireframes were created early and iterated on rapidly

The Outcome

Of the 10 features identified as high priority and tested throughout, we landed on three key versions we presented to the business sponsor.

Smart Quote to Order

Partially deployed (Quote).

The quote and address lookup feature consolidates a number of fragmented systems and spreadsheets, simplifying the way partners quote. It provides users with richer, more accurately qualified data to build product and pricing solutions in a fraction of the time previously required.

Order Status Tracker


The order status feature enables partners to track their customer orders in near real time, giving them more order data than they've ever had. It gives users the ability to see intricate order data at a glance at any time, removing the complex and lengthy call centre experience.

Whole of Customer View


A simple feature, ensuring partners can view the customer account data they need to get their job done faster. The current process requires they retrieve multiple pieces of data from numerous systems or that they rely on calling internal contacts. This creates a distrust in systems, a complex process and an uneven playing field.

Final Thoughts

What I learned

  • There is a saturation point- During the research phase, there came a point where the same information was consistently being repeated. This meant we could scale down the research and interviews to focus more on the feature outcomes.
  • Verbatim is king- I was able to change perspectives and key project outcomes through the use of clear user feedback.
  • No one has all the answers- Even the best subject matter experts can discover something new. With the combination of research outcomes and verbatim comments, we were able to prove the best outcome for the users.
  • Not everything has to be digital- Throughout this process I discovered many pain-points could be solved without developing new digital solutions. It's important to keep an open mind and not rely on digital development.

In the news...

Telstra expands its use of Salesforce (IT News, 15 August 2019)
“Salesforce is also now the single portal for Telstra Enterprise and our partners to manage our sales opportunities and has helped increase our sales pipeline by 27 percent over the past 12 months”.

Telstra completely changes how it sells enterprise services (IT News, 20 June 2018)
“We’ve shrunk our product release cycle from years to months, and our forecast is over the next three years this new stack will reduce calls from our customers into Telstra by 65 percent.”


Telstra was recently recognised by ARN Innovation Awards.

Telstra won the award for Telecommunications Vendor Value, which recognises high achieving technology organisations for the value they provide partners. We were recognised for our ability to provide partners with a similar digital tool our internal teams use with Telstra Partner Central, helping to make it easier for partners to work with us.

Headshot of Josh in black and white

Joshua Holmes

Josh is a product design leader based in Melbourne, Australia.
He has been working in the design space for 7 years across various industries.