Due to the success and positive feedback from attendants after a series of events ran the year before (2017), where a mobile app was provided to assistants for easy access of information and real-time interaction, a desire to replicate the experience emerged.
The original app was leased by a third-party and represented a high annual cost that the business was looking to reduce or eliminate.
The initial request focused on the in-house development of a solution that could replace the mentioned leased app, for which I was responsible for the initial assessment.
Assessed, designed and developed a new solution for the ‘SW One and Senior Leader events’ that saved the company more than £50K per year from leasing fees of an external product.
The new solution prioritised the use of existent platforms, removing the need for a bespoke coded app, which was the original requirement of the stakeholder and sponsor of the project.
I was responsible for engagement with users and stakeholders, user journey and fast prototypes, focus groups and usability testing, the latter done for the first time in the organisation.
The solution was successfully used in more than 10 events over two months, won a performance award from the CEO and has been fully adopted by the organisation.
BREAKING DOWN THE PROCESS
After receiving all the information and evaluating the initial requirements from the Senior Stakeholder, I proceeded to organised the requirements, evaluate the request and came up with a result.
After a conversation with the Stakeholder, clarify requirements, fill information gaps and validate assumptions; I finally presented 3 possible alternatives, their pros, cons, tradeoffs; ultimately provinding a recommendation and a contingency plan.
The three options presented are the following:
Bespoke application - Original requirement
Off-the-shelf - Contingency plan
Internal platforms - Recommnedation
1. Bespoke Application
Building a bespoke application was possible but not feasible due to time and budget constraints. In order to meet the required deadline, a significant investment would have been required to guarantee a delivery on time for the first series of events, in less than 3 months at the time I was assigned to the project.
The need for an 'admin' area was never considered. The new solution was envisioned to be used along with different events, all of them usually with different content tailored to the attendants and the agenda of the day. In order to do this, there would have been the need to build an admin area that would allow event managers to create and modify the necessary content. This would have generated an additional cost, increasing the lack of viability for this alternative.
It needs to be maintained. If a bespoke solution was built, there would have been the need (and associated cost) to maintain it, as it is regular with mobile applications, bugs, fixes and other updates are necessary in order to keep the application working accordingly. This would have applied to both the application and the admin area.
Once all the above was explained in detail and understood by the Senior Stakeholder and sponsor of this project, she was clear and confident to dismiss the build of a bespoke application as an alternative.
The second alternative that was presented was to lease a different off-the-shelf that would meet all the requirements, would be more flexible than the previous one, and at a significantly smaller cost.
Five options were presented, to demonstrate variety and availability on the market, and to clarify that it was a matter of properly defining the needs and requirements to select the most adequate. They all had different costing models and price ranges.
The downside with this alternative was the need for the user to personally download the designated app from the App Store, something that could have been easily done on their personal phones, but represented a significant challenge and even barrier if done on their work phones. Complicated permission settings, and lack of flexibility in the internal systems and security protocol, makes the distribution of these type of applications a complicated and very long process, at times even impossible to go accomplish; something that not only was clear would significantly detriment the users' experience, but that my stakeholder was looking to avoid at all cost.
Ultimately this alternative was left as a contingency plan, in case no other option was suitable.
3. Internal Platforms
As the company had recently adopted a new series of modern and flexible cloud-based platforms, I found it feasible to meet all the requirements through these; virtually representing zero additional cost for the organisation and aligning to the ethos of maximising the benefit of what was already there.
I built the first prototype using Yammer, Microsoft's equivalent of Facebook's workplace; due to lack of suitability I shifted to SharePoint and created a series of sites to manage the events.
It addressed the challenge of deployment into work phones presented by the off-the-shelf alternative, as it was not required and everyone already had access to SharePoint within the organisation. As a bonus, SharePoint is a fully mobile responsive product, perfectly adapting to all screen sizes without missing features or diminishing the users' experience.
Zero-training. Due to the succeful embracemet the platform has had wihin the company, almost everyone is using it and knows how to use it, removing the need for training and the creation of manuals or guides.
Only one key feature was missing within the platform, the possibility of 'Live Q&A'.
A series of third-party apps were assessed and tested, selecting Slido as the most suitable. Slido was then integrated into the app.
TITLE OF THE CALLOUT BLOCK
The real problem was information distribution and access, not an app.