Building systems that last: Making RnD work for your organization

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Part of the Management team at Eneza Education

Part of the Management team at Eneza Education

During the past five months, one of the things we have focused on is improving Eneza platform (Shupavu291 (SMS/USSD), Mwalimoo (web) and Android), through Research and Development (RnD) team. The idea is to make the customer product experience even better than the current version. To date, with the changes we have managed to incorporate into the platform we are seeing good results.

Using the registration process as an example for this post (Dial *291#) on your Safaricom line to test it, I will proceed to take you through the RnD process we followed and highlight some insights.

Ideally there are five key things we did: we set up a team; identified the areas on the platform we were interested in improving; went through several iterations of the new registration process; tested with users and finally went live.

1.  Setting up a team

For the team, I selected one representative from each of our departments (Content, Tech, Sales and Marketing and Impact). The team members selected had over a year experience with the product and would provide perspective from the different features we intended to improve. They also interacted daily with the customers so this was Key!

2.     Solution definition (planning out the task)

When RnD was conceptualized, there were about 10 tasks to choose from. These tasks were based on issues faced by customers when interacting with the platform and the wish list. The first task selected was to improve user registration across the platforms (Shupavu291, Mwalimoo and Android). Considering that we had over 500,000 users, it was crucial not to make too many drastic changes that would affect the data we collected from our users. It was also important to set out specific tasks: Test the registration process on some websites/apps/ sms services; document the aspects you like; compare with the Eneza Platform; Come up with mock-ups for the new process; test with some users; go live; monitor results.

3.  Ideation & testing

It took a lot of deliberation to agree on what data was important at the point of registration VS what we could collect later on from the users. In the past we collected information like gender, school, age, class level, name, and subject. Additionally, there were the issues our customers raised when stuck in the registration process  – a major one being USSD timeout.

The team found many things we liked on different registration processes tested, a key one being one to two step process before a user can experience the product.

The team then decided to strip down the process to only request course type (primary/secondary/teacher & business) and class level (for primary and secondary)

We took the new mock-ups to students in a nearby school to test their experience and initial reactions.

4.  Going live and the challenges that follow

We presented the final mock-ups for the improved registration process to the Eneza team during one of the meetings.  It was approved. It took a few weeks for tech to integrate the mock-ups and for the new registration to start working.

Lessons learned:

  1. Time management: in the beginning we allocated unlimited time to the R&D. As a result team members dropped other tasks they were working on which affected productivity of the company. Luckily we caught it during the first week and fixed it by setting fixed meeting times for team members to work on the research and deliberate on the way forward
  2. Making testing simple: The first testing experience we used paper mock-ups, instead of a live phone. Our users, who were quite young, found this confusing and didn’t like it. In later testing processes we have been using the internal API link.
  3.     Fixing one part of the product started of a chain reaction: how can a user have a good registration then get lost in the content flow? What content should a user see first? How often should they stay on the same course level? What should go on the home Menu?

We changed the registration, introduction to content and content flow together as a package and have witnessed number of new subscribers increase significantly. We also saw a reduction in users who faced USSD timeout challenge.

It’s pretty exciting working with the RnD team and we have had even more fun adventures as we improve our customer’s experiences across the platform.

Stay tuned to learn more!

About the author

Anne Salim is our Chief Operations Officer. She manages the teams at Eneza and leads the R&D team. She has expertise in impact assessment of tech projects, program and curriculum design and project management.

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