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No pressure, no diamonds

How Bizzomate, User Intelligence, and three non-profits combined their expertise to develop a prototype app and strategy in 1.5-day

Over 40 employees of Bizzomate and User Intelligence, and three stakeholders of non-profit organizations, have recently shown the best of their abilities during a 1.5-day ‘pressure cooker’ session. Resulting in a well-thought-out and workable prototype app for the ‘National Year of Voluntary Service’. Monique de Bree (Vereniging NOV –  Platform Volunteers), Kathelijne Janssen (User Intelligence) and Marc Gelissen (Bizzomate)share their experiences.

Pressure cooker

Consultants from Bizzomate and User Intelligence have been working together in several projects for a joint customer. Where Bizzomate specializes in the rapid development of applications on Mendix’s low-code platform, User Intelligence provides user insights by helping organizations create better digital experiences. These specialties fit together like a hand in a glove, but a good introduction for all employees had yet to be planned. To make this both an interesting experience for employees and to actually deliver a workable app, a ‘pressure cooker’ concept was chosen. In one full day and another half day, two weeks later, three different teams worked on an application for a predetermined social purpose. “For us, Social Responsibility is one of the corner stones of our organization , so this pressure cooker is a win-win-situation. We get to know the consultants at User Intelligence better, improve our knowledge in the field of research and UX and help a social organization”, explains Marc Gelissen, Pater Familias and CEO at Bizzomate.

From on location to Teams

Just before the second Corona outbreak, a nice space had been arranged in Eindhoven where everyone could work together at a distance of 1.5 meters. Unfortunately, that plan could not go ahead due to stricter rules and regulations. “We switched very quickly and prepared the entire program in such a way that we could achieve the same result digitally, with the help of Microsoft Teams and Miro boards. Of course, we had to wait and see whether video calling would actually lead to a successful get-together, but it soon became apparent that due to the tight organization and the possibilities and sub rooms in Teams, things went very well”, says Kathelijne Janssen, Business Development Director at User Intelligence. The more than 40 employees were divided into three groups, each with a product owner, responsible for feedback and reporting, a facilitator, informed about the program and helpdesk in case of technical problems, and a stakeholder from a social organization.

‘Year of Voluntary Service’

Monique de Bree is program director ‘National Year of Voluntary Service’ at NOV, the platform for Dutch organizations for voluntary work, and one of the three stakeholders who participated in the pressure cooker. After a pre-selection of various social projects, the ‘Year of Voluntary Service’ in 2021 became one of three initiatives that would be developed further. “There is a shortage of volunteers and a surplus of social challenges. One of the things we want to achieve in 2021 is that more companies volunteer their employees and take on their social responsibility,” explains De Bree. “To look at your organization’s challenge together with such a group of professionals, to clarify the proposition and even to be able to show the first prototype, is a very learning and fascinating experience.”

Importance of shared understanding

Gelissen agrees with the success of learning new things during the pressure cooker: “We now recognize the importance of ‘shared understanding’ of a problem even more. At Bizzomate we map out the path with wireframes and then start developing the application, sometimes we act too quickly and the concept needs a lot of adaptation. The consultants at User Intelligence really take the time to investigate the problem and interview users to get to the heart of the matter, before getting started”. The Pater Familias  was also impressed by the way of interviewing both large customers and small entrepreneurs and the use of smart tools. “I was able to listen in during the interviews and was really impressed by the indirect, but smart questions, that exclude socially desirable answers. Also, we as Bizzomate have started working with Miro boards to digitally brainstorm, visualize possible solutions and create shared understanding, after seeing the great work being done during the pressure cooker.”

Rapid prototype development provides clarity

For Janssen, the speed with which a working concept can be developed was particularly striking. “We sometimes think that an IT department is slowing down the process but Bizzomate showed how quickly they can develop, adjust after testing an application. Sometimes you are stuck in a conversation with a customer and if you can show a clickable model, this could just give the right push. In addition, a project manager at the customer can use this prototype model to gain support within the organization, validate it with end-users, and make a better indication of the process duration and costs. It is very educational to go through this rapid development process together with the experts from Bizzomate. ”

The winning concept: Social Relay for Businesses

Of the three teams, each with its own assignment, the team with stakeholder De Bree ultimately took the win with their ‘social relay’-concept. To recruit more volunteers, companies will jointly engage in volunteer projects and then pass the baton to their partners and customers. This creates a whole network of companies that contribute their bit. In the intended application, companies can find information about volunteering (tools and checklists), there is room for news and reporting, you can see which other companies are participating (via a map function) and there are possibilities for gamification (happiness coins). De Bree: “I was very impressed with how, for example, a designer visualizes the flow of a platform via an online Miro board. It was also very interesting to see how the challenge was viewed from different angles, from technical to marketing. Ultimately, there is a very useful prototype, which we would like to use during the ‘Year of voluntary commitment’ – provided the funding is secured.”

Next steps

Janssen and Gelissen are also happy to help and think along with further development. In addition to achieving this great result, they are very satisfied with the way of working together via this digital pressure cooker. “If an IT person says to me with ‘shall we start already’ during the brainstorming phase with a customer and User Intelligence, I refer him to this day and the fact that the winners came up with a well thought through concept first, before they started developing”, says Gelissen. Janssen: “There was high energy of 40 consultants during these pressure cooker days. We got to know each other, connected and we delivered a great product to a happy customer.

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