Internal Gamification: Design and Implementation

By Derrick Pope - December 2nd, 2016

In this third installment of our 4-part series, CSU-Global’s Director of Enrollment, Derrick Pope, takes you through the most exciting part of employee gamification: design and implementation. Get an inside look at what’s most important in your design, and hear directly from the implementation team that made Derrick’s dream a reality.

In case you missed it, Derrick’s first article “Internal Gamification: First Steps to Winning Success”, Derrick identified the initial steps to kicking-off your internal gamification solution. In part two, “Internal Gamification: Choosing the Best Solution for Your Organization’s Goals”, Derrick outlined 4 things to look for, and avoid, when vetting the best solutions for your goals. Keep reading to see what suggestions and precautions this team recommends now that the solution is integrated.

gamification icons

The excitement is building. You picked a gamification solution. You have a bunch of great ideas. Now you have to translate all of that into a system that works. The time has come to finally build your very own gamification system.
While the excitement for this stage is palpable, the pitfalls are dangerous. The work you do here will determine the success or failure of your system. Are you ready?

Designing Your Gamification System

The gamification design process starts by refocusing on the goals of your project. All the decisions you make here need to be aligned with those goals while keeping your players, or users, in mind. First and foremost this experience should be designed for your players.

If you’re adding e-learning elements to address your KPIs, or key performance indicators, you need to be thoughtful in designing interactions that suit your players. The achievement of your project goals will depend on your ability to design an experience that promotes user engagement. If they don’t engage with the new process, the system will fail and you will fall short of the goals.

In this stage you’ll also need to recruit a project team to help with the design and implementation process. From my experience, this team should be diverse in function and expertise to capture a well-rounded view of the business need. The team should also be well versed on the concept of gamification and the goals of the project.

One of the pitfalls I experienced was selecting a team quickly without giving them time to get up to speed. We were moving so quickly that a couple team members struggled to fully participate because they were not prepared for the scope of the project.

Give your team the time and knowledge they need to contribute. Because I failed to do this, I ended up taking on multiple roles on the project team. This wasn’t ideal as it limited the knowledge base for the build and I was stretched thin with the extra responsibility. Don’t let your passion for getting this done impact your ability to do it right.

Implementing Your Gamification System

Since this part of the project is all about the team I decided to share insights from some key members of our team. Although it was smaller than it should have been, the team members we did have were amazing and their insights are incredibly valuable. I asked a few of them to share their top gamification tips for a successful design process.

Content Development – Amy Marshall
Enrollment Training and Quality Assurance Manager, CSU-Global:

“Any time you are using e-learning activities you need great content. It is important to make it exciting and challenging. Have fun with the potential answers in the trivia games. When this is done the right way the team will all talk about it, which increases participation and learning.

The real challenge here is collecting and refining all of that amazing content. Creating interaction workflows and event triggers can be very confusing so lean on the expertise of your vendor until you get it down. And most importantly set aside enough time! It takes longer you think to reformat your content to be usable in the game.”

IT Integration – TJ Turner
Freelance Systems Administrator:

“I can only think of a few things we could have done to make this process go more smoothly. First, I would make sure that you establish the metrics that will be used in the game and create a few initial reports using the criteria you would like. Then you will just have to add the requested fields that are needed for your chosen solution to use in their game.

I would also make sure that you have all of your roles and profiles set up correctly for this game before you provide your list of users. If you have any external reporting not uploaded to your internal reporting system, I would begin setting up CSV exports that your solution can process using a standard FTP. The support and instructions you should receive to install the gamification solution you’ve chosen should be very detailed and easy to follow. Our solution, GamEffective, made is very easy. Once you have the application installed, you can begin testing almost immediately after.”

User Experience – Roni Floman
VP of Marketing – GamEffective:

“Avoid using the wrong ‘game’ so that users aren’t tempted to ‘game’ the system. For instance, if you gamify meaningless activities – only ‘kudos’ – then you’ll get a lot of that behavior and not behavior that is meaningful.

Similarly, if you just use competition – get overly focused on the leaderboard – you may disengage people that are not the top 10%. That’s why competition is sometimes a double edge sword and why we recommend having people ‘compete’ against their own KPIs.”

Along those lines, I have two final gamification tips to keep in mind during your design process:

1. Set a realistic timeline. The problems with our project were exacerbated by an aggressive timeline. We needed to move incredibly fast. That speed didn’t allow for a full team to be utilized as people were unable to move away from other responsibilities to make time for this extra project. This limited our perspective and increased the burden on team members.

2. Testing is key. Allow ample time to test your solution before you go live. If your timeline is too aggressive and you cut corners in the testing phase you’ll end up suffering when you go live. Any data integrity issues will reduce player satisfaction in the system and can lead to poor adoption. Remember, this system is for them and if it isn’t right it will lead to frustration. Complaining about errors is not the way you want your employees to engage.

Even with our aggressive timeline, GamEffective proved to be an agile partner in this process and was able to quickly move us through the design and implementation phase smoothly. You’ll learn a lot about your vendor’s customer support team at this point so hopefully you chose well. Leverage their expertise in user engagement and blend it with your understanding of your culture and players. The result should be an engaging system that drives your employees upward.

Next month, I’ll publish my fourth and final internal gamification post in this series. Now that our solution is up and working, we’ll look at the optimization points you’ll need to address as your players gain access and implement in their everyday lives.

Derrick Pope

Derrick Pope is the Director of Enrollment at CSU-Global. He is a management leader with more than 20 years experience, 13 of those in higher education. Derrick has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Public Relations from Metro State University of Denver and an MBA from Baker College. An advocate of lifelong learning, Derrick continues to explore innovative employee engagement techniques. He’s also an avid volleyball player, passionate family man, and self-proclaimed tech geek.

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