Gamification project chronicles

Project management at best can have it’s challenges, where different parties need to deliver different pieces of a bigger puzzle. when working in an increasingly international world, good agreements are a starting point and then you really have to rely on trust to deliver the end result. Risk is minimised through statements of work and other legal and partnership agreements and the ultimate endorsement of trust is a happy client who is happy to pay the invoice.

Different suppliers see this as flexible or not. Our view here at Gamification Nation is to make sure that we manage expectations on delivery but also that ultimately the client is the key party. When we do our initial user profiling and background research with the clients subject matter experts, we form a high level concept based on their input. Gamification design workshops follow with a representative sample of the target audience and often the project team too. The combination of work brief, statement of works, user profiling, expert input and design workshops together with our own expertise in gamification design leads to the end design proposal.

At this stage we start building a prototype journey and often an invision mock-up of some of the key elements. At this point we also typically bring on board the technical platform provider to ensure the intended design is possible on the chosen platform. In a very recent project the platform provider decided not to read the information provided, approved what we sent through so we went back to the client and presented the concept. When the client approved, we went back to the platform to give the go ahead to implement and all of a sudden our design concept is ripped to shreds and we learn that the platform supplier lied through their teeth about what they actually did in-house and not.

After several attacks on the design and us finding out that the functionality of the platform is not as was initially sold, we had to come clean with the client and explain the platform is not willing, able and causing all sorts of problems. One of the client project team members offered to step in and help in managing the platform, which he did brilliantly and finally things started to move forward. Some of our design was deemed too hard or not to the liking of the platform and didn’t get implemented. We saw it as core, they saw it as superficial, no matter how much we explained it fell on deaf ears. And as a woman I was shot down, talked over and only men were listened to. It happened also the ladies on the client project team, so I know it wasn’t all that personal but still bad form for this century’s business practices.

To ensure we would have something to show for on the crucial day, we had to build our version which in fact is a total waste of my company’s resource for something that someone else really was contracted to do for us. It takes a lot for me to go to that length, but the project to us is worth more in the long run. I knew that if we performed this part well, the potential for more opportunities is there and also potentially quite large. It requires again a leap of faith and delivering to great standards in pilots to get to even be in with a chance to be included for the long haul.

The final weeks in the delivery lead up were a challenge and really one lie lead to another one being uncovered. I found it incredible for the user acceptance testing snag list to be sent through with all done marked on it and when checked it wasn’t. Then on friday after 7pm a mail with details going to the client asking if some of the things we needed were possible if they wanted it, when it was made clear in the meeting that it was essential. On rehearsal day finding out more things were showing as wrong, even items asked weeks prior and then some on the day sudden snags. The ultimate one that broke the final bit of patience on all sides was on the final presentation day the application not loading because platform servers were down. If this was my platform I would have been mortified, in fact I was embarrassed beyond belief to let the client know we may have to revert to a powerpoint version.

The thing I find crazy is that in the gamification industry there are a lot of smaller platform providers and a few bigger and better funded ones, most would go through hell and high water to deliver for a client. We have had issues before with other suppliers but then they were so accommodating to help and fix it, that in the end we had a product to show. The only times I have stood around with embarrassment is when lies were used in either time, ability to deliver, willingness to deliver and functionality. So far in 5 years of trading, it has happened twice. In both instances lies were the core problem. In my book honesty and integrity will always win in the long run.

To finish the tale, the presentation went well. The platform did reboot just in time after blaming wifi, firewalls and all sorts of other things. The client and their clients looked really engaged and enthused. Some did look for the gamification design elements that the platform had refused to create due to goodness knows whatever reason. But explaining that in a future version those would be included we answered the question and showed we had however come up with those as well. The feedback after was positive and quite a few came back to have a play with the gamified learning journey after all they had heard before.



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