Whilst working on client projects we often find useful bits of information out. Where possible we blog about that information to pass on our knowledge. Below are some of our most recent entries.
A Client, a Sales Team, Incentives and the development of a Commercial Application
It's been a while since our last blog post, so we figured it was time to let the world know what we've been up to and why.
Where it all began
About six months ago, Wildfire Advertising, spoke to us about one of their clients who wanted an online quiz game to help as part of a sales incentive. The initial idea was to create a quiz that the individual sales people could enter based on the number of products they had sold. The more they sold, the more time they got in the quiz.
Towards the end of our initial discussions with the Wildfire team, we realised that this quiz could not only used with this one particular client, but with several other Wildfire clients. In the past, Wildfire have run quite a few sales incentives for their clients, but the majority of these have always been one-off print based solutions.
With this in mind we started to think about how we could create a more flexible quiz system that could be easily re-skinned and changed appropriately for each individual client.
By the time we had our next meeting with the Wildfire team, we have a fairly good idea of how we were going to go about creating a solution. In this second meeting, we talked to Wildfire about their previous experience with sales incentives. The more we talked, the more both parties realised we could take this project a larger step forwards and we could build a incentive games system for use by pretty much anyone looking to make their incentive schemes more fun and interesting.
The Wildfire team mentioned figures to us like:
- up to 48% increase in employee performance (Source: HR Management Magazine).
- 96% of employees think that 'incentive games are fun'.
- only 45% of the employees who participate in an "ordinary" incentive programmes are happy with those.
- tangible rewards (like cash, gift vouchers, holidays and additional days off work) increased performance by 26%, compared with just a 13% increase in performance for incentives that solely used non tangible rewards, like a points based system (The Incentive Research Foundation).
With data like this we knew that if we could create an online incentive application that there had to be a market for it.
After a short amount of investigation by ourselves and Wildfire, we realised there was a general lack of good, online based employee incentive applications out there. We had hit on a real world problem that needed a solution.
Early steps and investigations
Having agreed we were going to build an online employee incentive application for use by anyone needing to incentivise their sales teams, call centre staff, or any other groups of employees, we started to look at the technology side of the project. Two key words came to mind, flexible (to client requirements) and scalable (we didn't have a clue regarding the numbers of users of this system).
For the initial part of the development of the project, we concentrated hard on creating a solid core system. Our main aim was to create something that did a lot of the basics, like user management and permissions, team management, and basic game functionality, such as leaderboards and reward handling. Last, but certainly not least, the other area of development was the creation of a plugin architecture for all the different types of games that we were planning to build on an ongoing basis.
The majority of the functionality was developed and tested very quickly, but the game plugin system underwent a few rewrites to get it to a stage we were happy with. We now have a system where we can plugin games very quickly. We have initially concentrated on grid based games, with the plan to move into other types in the near future. Each of the grid based games is customisable with different numbers of squares and rewards. The games also have individually designed emails to give each game a unique feel.
The scalability of the project was actually fairly easy to handle. We decided upon using Heroku for the hosting of the application and MongoHQ for hosting the database. Heroku is a really good hosting solution for applications like this. It comes with a number of really useful tools, such as New Relic for profiling, Hoptoad for error collection, but most importantly it provides us with the ability to add more power at the flick of a switch. As the application grows and the number of users grows, using a mixture of profiling and adding more power, we will be able to keep the application stable.
Naming the product
Wildfire and ourselves didn't decide on a name for the product until about half way into the development stage. In the end the Wildfire team came up with Incentive Maker with a number of advertising concepts for it. We all instantly felt that Incentive Maker would be a strong brand name.
We officially announced Incentive Maker a few weeks ago, with the idea of getting a few clients to do private Beta testing of the Incentive Maker. The initial feedback has been great. The majority of the feedback has been in regards to additional functionality. We've also had some great feedback in terms of how to improve the usability of specific areas such as game creation, and points awarding.
We've taken on board all the client feedback and spent time improving Incentive Maker. We feel the product is even stronger for this period of private Beta testing.
We are hoping to officially launch Incentive Maker in the next few weeks. We are in the process of putting together a website to replace the existing holding page, with far more information about Incentive Maker.Tweet