As I wade into what can be abstract ideas about gamifying enterprise apps, I think it will help to make them more concrete with some examples from a product I’m intimately familiar with, Accept360. This is the product for which I’m the product manager, and believe me, as a daily user of my own product, over the years I’ve experienced all the issues I mentioned in last week’s post!
Accept360 is a product planning product that includes portfolio planning, requirements management, agile management, and other related capabilities. One of the fundamental operations in Accept360 is creation of a product requirement.
In our system product requirements are somewhat complex objects that not only contain a name and description, but can also have:
- Multiple rich text sections
- A complete implementation estimate (in terms of multiple tasks assigned to multiple resources)
- Weighted relationships to market elements such as the customers who have requested or will benefit from the capability and the marketing themes that the capability supports
- The suggestions and ideas we’ve collected from customers and the market that have driven the creation of the requirement in the first place
- Child requirements that elaborate the main requirement
- Any number of custom properties of various types
And just to make it trickier, a requirement can have any combination of these and many other pieces of data associated with it. Depending on a customer’s product planning process, they might want or require more or less data for each requirement type.
A requirement is thus a this fairly complex chunk of data. It typically takes a product manager multiple hours or days of work to get from initial draft to delivered capability, over the course of days or weeks or even months, and with multiple conversations and collaboration sessions with other product managers, development managers, and developers (and customers, marketers, executives, etc. – the list of collaborators can go on and on).
I’ll use these capabilities of Accept360 as a testbed for how gamification can be applied to an enterprise application. (I recognize that not every enterprise app can be as cool as Accept360, but it’s still a good example.) Because of its level of complexity – all of which is simply a reality of the product planning and delivery process – there are many opportunities for applying game design and game mechanics to make the use of Accept360 a better experience. Some of the most obvious examples might be:
- Onboarding a user – When users start working with the product, you need to let them into the world of Accept360 gently, otherwise it’s too overwhelming
- Providing step-by-step guidance to a user the first few times he or she does a new task
- Providing guidance at any particular point in time about where or what the user should do next – for example, if they’ve written a requirement, perhaps it should be reviewed by a colleague
- “Scoring” a requirement – letting the user see how their require stacks up against a “best practice” requirement, and then guiding them on how to improve theirs if it comes up short
- Getting credit for a well-written requirement – ideally this would be done via review and voting by your colleagues who need to make use of the requirement (i.e., engineers or engineering managers)
- Getting a rank or overall score that recognizes how good you are at writing requirements, or doing any of the other myriad tasks that make up the product planning process
I am using Accept360 as the example application for applying gamification because it’s the one I’m most familiar with, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about other enterprise apps that are ripe for game design and game mechanics. Let me know in the comments.