A typical IT lifecycle consists of the following stages : Planning & preparation, Design & building, Testing & deployment and finally Servicing & operation. While the planning and design stages are often dynamic in nature and are viewed as challenging assignments, the testing and operational phases of the lifecycle are often repetitive and monotonous. Various studies have shown that including gamification elements in repetitive, boring tasks can often improve the productivity of the workforce.
The trouble with most gamification deployments is that CIOs often fail to recognize the importance of continuous monitoring and pivoting. Gamification is often seen as a “set and forget” mechanism that will instantly bring improved results. Failure to strategize gamification could be counter-productive and can potentially demotivate those subjects who are not ranking on top.
According to Gal Rimon, the founder and CEO of GamEffective, an enterprise gamification SaaS service, measuring the ROI from a gamification project is extremely important. He recommends starting with identifying the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure. According to him, it is critical to create a distinction between process KPIs and performance KPIs. Process KPIs are behaviors you want to change through gamification whereas performance KPIs are those that are impacted by this change. For instance, gamification could try to improve quality reporting on CRM. But higher sales is a performance KPI that may or may not be impacted due to this improvement.
Once the right parameters are identified and a control group is established, measuring the ROI from the gamification experiment becomes a continuous, iterative process. So how does one achieve this for an IT project. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to go about it.
Identify the KPI to target. For instance, one challenge with software testing is the tendency among QA personnel to give the go-ahead even before comprehensively testing their product in order to meet deadlines. In such an instance, the number of critical bug reports filed could be a KPI to measure.
Devise the right metric to measure KPI. The gamification strategy being deployed should ideally nudge the control group to file more critical bug reports without compromising on the quality of bugs reported. One way to do it is to get the developers to rate the reported bug in terms of its impact and estimated resolution effort. Since critical bugs often have a larger impact and can often take more time to resolve, measuring the KPI through these metrics should incentivize QA to file bug reports that have greater impact.
Identify a gamification strategy. The next step is to identify how best to gamify this process so that QA would feel incentivized to file more critical bugs. One way to do it is to set a quarterly target for the number of bugs filed, the average impact rating and the average resolution effort. A testing engineer who meets the targets on all three counts could be rewarded financially and through other means, including virtual badges and designations.
Deploy and test. The final step is to deploy the strategy to a target control group. Obsessively measure all metrics and not just the target KPIs to measure the impact of the new strategy. It is a good idea to pivot the strategy and measure results on a continual basis and when the outcome is satisfactory, introduce this across all departments.
Gamification is not an after-thought and requires extensive planning and monitoring. Unless your organization can dedicate resources to deploy and measure these strategies, it is not recommended. However, an effective deployment of gamification can have terrific improvements in the IT lifecycle management.
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