Digital, Strategy & Design + + + + +

Being your own client

How we improve on our own operations

Every two weeks, we look back at our processes during a retrospective. The team gathers and names things that we should start, stop or continue doing. We use these learnings to optimise our projects, processes and more importantly our time. More time efficiently spend, means more time to create even better digital experiences. The retrospective helps us to rethink our processes into new ideas to work more efficiently with our clients and the team

 

The problems raised in the retrospective often circle around capacity and planning issues. To conquer these challenges, we brought together the project management and development team. Together, they created a fortune-telling capacity tool and a real-time narrowcasting for meeting rooms.

 

Tools used: Slack, Raspberry PI, Vue JS, Gripp, Forecast and Philips Hue.

 

Opportunity 1: Gain better insights into team capacity and upcoming projects
Keeping track of time is essential. Deadlines need to be met, and the team needs to be planned as efficiently as possible. As with every company, there are only 40 hours to spend throughout the week. Every team member is provided with a kit of tools (Gripp and Harvest Forecast) that give clear insights into their schedule, projects and predicted milestones. The tools are managed by our project management team, enabling them to keep a birds’eye perspective at all times.

 

All of our projects are managed within Gripp, where we write hours and keep a neat overview of ongoing and upcoming projects. We use Harvest Forecast to manage our team and keep track of team capacity. These tools provide us with all necessary information about projects and relevant milestones that are essential when working towards a deliverable.

There is a lot to gain when combining data of upcoming projects and team capacity into a clear overview.

Project management goes back and forth between the two. While both Gripp and Forecast have their own beneficial features included, there is a lot to gain when data of both apps are combined into a clear overview. By doing so, we gain better insights on our past experiences to improve our working processes, resulting in time well spent.

Our answer: a fortune-telling capacity tool

Ted Godyla, our full-stack developer, took on the challenge and set out to combine the data of Gripp and Forecast into a modern-day framework. He used Vue JS to build a front-end solution that showcases Forecast and Gripp- data in real-time, rearranging it into visual graphs and diagrams.

 

How it works: The fortune-telling capacity tool sheds light on current projects and showcases how many hours are available (Gripp), planned (Forecast) and already used by the team(Gripp). The combination of this data forms a new forecast, that shows how many hours are probably needed in the next phase. We can link both applications by using the same project number across applications. The Forecast API also enabled us to give an overview of team members, projects, showcasing capacity into a simple graph.


By combining both insights of Gripp and Forecast in our fortune-telling tool, we get a brief overview of teams and individual team members availability over the upcoming months. This way we are always aware of potential gaps or work overloads ahead of time, enabling to fill the gaps with freelancers or even new vacancies.

 

This tool does not only benefit us and our working processes but can also be beneficial for our clients. Let’s say we want to showcase insights from Google Analytics within the CMS of one of our clients. The learning experience of designing, building and coming up with certain solutions keeps us challenged with more creative ways to tackle certain questions or issues with great confidence.

Opportunity 2: unaware of booked meeting rooms
Ever since we moved to our new location we had been running into the issue of meeting rooms being booked. Team members present during the meeting were well aware of these meetings provided in their calendar, while other team members, looking for a quick tete-a-tete, were often unaware of the meeting taking place.

 

Our answer: Narrowcasting schedules
To provide the users of the meeting room with some context about upcoming events taking place we created an in-house narrowcasting application running on a small Raspberry Pi computer. By connecting the Raspberry Pi with a PIR Sensor — a PIR Sensor is a motion sensor that reacts on peoples movements — we are able to detect people coming in and leaving out to display relevant information onto a screen about any upcoming meetings and appointments. We also connected our Hue lightbulbs to the Raspberry Pi, enabling them to indicate an upcoming appointment by the use of light.

Our calendar is a living organism, meetings get moved and double bookings occur. Working with this dynamic feed of data, as well as connecting physical objects, posed quite a unique challenge. The team had to overcome unusual sets of inputs and outcomes in building the perfect narrowcasting solution.

 

How it works: The narrowcasting application combines data of our Google Calendar and displays it on the meeting room display. Using a PIR sensor in the room, the screen lights up when someone enters the room. If a meeting is about to end, the Hue lights turn orange and then red, indicating that another meeting is coming up in a few minutes.


Currently, we’re creating a similar application for Rialto Cinemas in Amsterdam. Instead of connecting Google Calendar, we built an API of ActiveTickets and display real-time ticket availability in the theater itself. Besides ticket information, Rialto can also showcase additional information about upcoming movies by filling it in their cms.

 

The next challenge
While we take great pride in realising the potential of our clients, we are projecting the same mindset within the team to come up with better solutions for occurring issues and problems. By doing so, we enhance our working flows and optimise on speed and performance, providing even better services to our clients.

 

Besides working on smaller side projects, the development team also keeps maintaining and improving on our own CMS with the feedback provided by its users. Being your own client means learning, researching, and expanding your knowledge about potential future implementations. At the same time, we’re creating a tool that’s not only being used by our fellow team members, but also by yourself.

 

If you feel like you have the next challenge for us to overcome, as either a fellow team member or client, please reach out, we are looking forward to meeting you! Look at our cases, or find our current vacancies here.

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