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Delivering simple solutions with speed – while enabling further development by non-technical employees

How in 10 weeks we helped our client deliver a new product that provided employees with immediate value using MS Power Apps

About our client

Our client is the workplace division of a leading global financial services company. The division services 15,000 customers spread across six global locations and is responsible for all technical support underpinning the bank’s daily operations.

Business challenge

Our client’s cost base had grown considerably over recent years. The complexity of workplace technology (from physical devices, software applications, telephony, printing, etc.) coupled with a growing customer base, meant the demand for technical support was starting to put excess pressure on the supply thereof.

Problem statement

To adequately service their customer base, our client’s response to meet demand was to increase their headcount. Their support included telephony, physical helpdesks, and a support team “roaming the floor” in anticipation of being asked for help. Our client needed help finding better ways of servicing customer needs, while keeping costs under control.

 

Our involvement

Starting with a four-week discovery, we were able to take a Human Centred Design approach and empathise with end-users to uncover some of their real needs. Coupling this with actual failure demand data of past requests and effort spent on these, we were able to draw insights into some of the highest value problems to solve first – those with the highest impact on users, as well requiring the most effort to resolve.

 

Using ideation and rapid prototyping techniques, we started to build out some designs of potential solutions and tested these with users. With short feedback loops, we iteratively framed and validated a desirable prototype with users, unencumbered by the technology choice to enable this.

 

Through feasibility discussions and solution design, Microsoft Power Apps came up as a potential enabler for the desired solution. Power Apps provides a low-code entry point for building apps, with pre-built elements aimed at reducing the timeframe of delivery. Power Apps is also extensible beyond its low-code foundation, in that it allows developers the tools to seamlessly extend app capabilities and integrate with existing applications or data with some custom code elements.

 

The problems that we were looking to address for the client were mostly around providing visibility of an employee’s in-flight requests, nudging them to take certain actions (to prevent an issue occurring in the first place), providing the ability to self-manage some of their own technology, as well as surface relevant assistance from a repository of self-help guides when needed. With the client being in the early stages of onboarding the Microsoft Power Platform, there was potential to frame some of the governance around usage of the platform with the new product as an actual use case – providing some additional benefit together with the delivery work we were embarking on.

 

We used the validated prototype design as the basis for the build, balancing the desirable experience with the native functionality Power Apps provides. Given that the nature of this product meant that the users were all going to be internal staff of the client, a number of benefits – such as authentication and organisational hierarchy rollups – came out of the box with little effort to implement. Writing some bespoke code integrated into the Power Apps repository provided a user experience that better aligned with the client brand, as well as providing reusable components to the client for future initiatives. Custom integrations into legacy systems were developed to enable data within those systems to be seamlessly surfaced.

 

Within a relatively short delivery timeframe of 10 weeks with a team of three Hypothesis people, we were able to build an intuitive product, integrated with existing applications to surface the required data – and bring this to life. The intent from the outset was not to over customise the product to the point that maintenance thereof would become a burden. Leveraging some of the broader MS Power Platform offerings, such as Power BI, allowed for data visualisation within the app using some of the existing dashboards and infrastructure which had already been implemented.

 

Applying some heuristics on past behaviour to ticketing data allowed for an informed forecast of expected turnaround times on tickets (and avoided follow-up calls). Asset registers combined with patching and update requirements allowed for us to nudge an employee to take action, to avoid issues occurring. Suggestions on downgrading or removing unused licences allowed for granular cost avoidance. Simple solutions to problems.

“It has been a great experience seeing what can be achieved in a relatively short time frame.”

- Federal Government Agency Official

Outcome

In 10 weeks we were able to deliver a product that provided employees with immediate value. As the initial discovery surfaced valuable features and additional benefits beyond the planned Hypothesis delivery timeframe, we set out a potential roadmap of delivery for the product (to be iteratively prioritised and validated). The planned transition of the product into the hands of the client involved all aspects of knowledge transfer. This was not something that happened at the end of the engagement, but rather through working closely with the client’s people throughout the delivery. Ensuring internal capability uplift, as well as sufficient transferring of any deeper learnings or assets. The result was that the client was left with the capability internally to continue to build and grow the product in order to realise ongoing value. This allowed for non-technical staff to shape the product within MS Power Apps, removing the need for more specialist technical skills and allowing this to be scaled more easily.

Key success measures

  • Assessment of existing client data to produce a prioritised list of the of top failure demand drivers to be addressed
  • User-testing and validating a desirable solution to three of the top 10 failure demand items identified
  • Scoping and delivering a thin slice solution in 10 weeks, with a three-person Hypothesis team including a Product Owner, Experience Designer and Engineer

Highlights

Through the engagement there were a number of ‘aha moments’ between the Hypothesis team and the client’s subject matter experts who were collaborating on finding the right problems to solve. By taking a deeper look at some of the available data, empathising with actual users and taking a structured approach to leveraging fit for purpose technology, the right solution bubbled out organically.

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