End-User Engagement Toolkit✎
The U4IoT project (User Engagement for Large Scale Pilots in the Internet of Things)
This toolkit is to guide the Large-scale pilot (LSP) projects and especially the pilot sites through the innovation processes, with a special focus on user-engagement. It comprises methodologies and tools found across literature and online, put together in a format that follows the different phases along the innovation process. These three phases, namely: exploration, experimentation and evaluation, have been further divided in 3-5 iterations. These iterative steps within the three phases contain links to more detailed instructions, tools and methodologies for the trial sites to refer to in the quest for end-user engagement along the innovation processes.
Although organized in a manner that the phases and iterations could be followed in a step-by-step manner, from beginning until the end, the purpose of the entire process is that it is followed in an iterative manner. This means that the different phases and iterations in the innovation processes are often overlapping, repeating, and mixing in order. Throughout the journey the need to jump back and forth between the different phases is to be noticed.
To serve the specific needs of the LSPs in engaging the end-users, this toolkit has been organized in a manner that it can be revisited and specific tools can be taken out at any point in time, when needed. It also provides a guide to answer to the four "tracks" identified from analyzing the specific needs of the LSP projects:
- A. Use cases: Defining use cases and specifying requirements, as well as validating them
- B. Co-creation: of user needs and solutions, specific tools & methodologies for co-creation
- C. Prototyping & Testing: First tests and MVPs, assessments and evaluations, user acceptance
- D. User research: Methodologies for user research
Phase 1 - Exploration.
The first phase of the toolkit is "exploration". This phase begins with the iteration "understand", and forms the basis for understanding the context, problem, and users. Followed by the second iteration "discover" that is characterized by immersion in the situation, empathizing with the users and observing them, leading to discoveries of new ideas and insights. Having reached a level of understanding, combined with discoveries of ideas and insights, the third iteration "define" consists of framing these insights into well- defined opportunities and needs, pain points and positive experiences of the users. The entire process is iterative, and all these different processes overlap and repeat throughout, and that is especially true for the "think" iteration. Here this toolkit provides you with concrete ideation techniques and brainstorming tools which are helpful throughout the entire journey. Finally, in the "conceptualize" iteration all the insights are gathered and ideas are examined, combined, visualized and framed into a complete concept.
Phase 2 - Experimentation
Having formed a concept in the previous phase, it's now time to put it to the test. First, the "prototype" iteration consists of building and creating a prototype. Prototypes can take on many forms, from tangible MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) to intangible service or experience design prototypes, but the main goal of the prototype is always the same: to "test" it in the second iteration. The purpose of building a prototype is to find answers, discover new insights and ideas, and to filter and measure the assumptions made. Therefore, these two iterations are often repeated numerous times, bringing you back to the first phase of exploration for new insights, ideas and concepts â€“ by debunking your assumptions or validating insights. Once a well-defined, tested and validated prototype has come out from the many iterations throughout the processes, the process of "pre-launch" has to do with analyzing, validating, distilling and orchestrating the upcoming launch of the prototype. The "develop" iteration continues to develop, deploy and generate the prototype into a product or service.
Phase 3 - Evaluation
Many of the toolkits available across the various sources have focused on the previous two phases, but the third phase of evaluation is equally important. Beginning with the first iteration "launch", the final prototypes, products and services are realized and delivered. Very similarly, the second iteration "implement" refers to delivering to the stakeholders, but further so, focuses on the process of fully implementing the product/service and explaining its importance and impact for the context. The third iteration "Identify" finally identifies the outcome of the process and ensures the ongoing sustainability of the product/service in the future. LSPs looking for tools that serve in answering to their current needs can use the filters below to display the specific tools relating to each of the tracks: 1. use cases, 2. co-creation, 3. prototyping & testing, 4. user research. A selection can also be made according to the skill level, effort needed and overall level of difficulty in using the tool: beginner, intermediate, advanced.
All the different phases of the process have more detailed explanations and instructions on the different iterations of the phase. As more general advice on the end-user engagement and usage of the toolkit, below some useful tips collected from several sources before diving into the process:
1. Iterative process - going back and forth in different phases - this can't be highlighted too much.
2. Role of the user: factor or actor? - consider the role of the users in the process, how much you would like to engage them in the different phases of the process and which tools offer the most possibilities for this.
3. Consider the usage of resources - plan the engagement carefully in terms of the level of input (time, costs, expertise) and the expected output.
4. Before choosing the tool that you are going to use, first dig into the root of the problem you are trying to solve: why are you doing this activity, what are you looking to achieve, and only then - how, using which tool?
5. This also applied to prototyping! The idea behind a prototype is to test - so before starting to build, consider what it is that you are trying to test and what functionality will be required from the prototype in order to achieve this?
Many of these considerations are taken into account in the design of the toolkit. Additionally, each tool has an indication of the level of expertise needed. The first level tools (beginner) include the most basic tools that are widely known and used in the field, and easy to start with. The second level (intermediate) can be followed after this introduction and help to advance to slightly more complex tools. The third level tools (advanced) are for more experienced practitioners.