Project: Feasibility Report for the commercialisation (Saas) of an application to help building companies and their clients track cost and budgets.
Time Frame: 12 weeks
My Role: User researcher and consultant
Working for: Andrew Phillips and Ashleigh Welch, Carreg Construction
Methodology: Qualitative research
To preserve the privacy of the project I have only described the top level components of the research undertaken. Like most of my research it involves insight interviews, online research, consolidation of findings and identifying of common themes that are then presented in a clear and easy to read report with graphics and images to support them. My main objective was to test whether other building companies needed (and wanted) a client facing app. Financial viability and costs associated to the launch and the development of the SaaS business model were also a crucial part of the study though this was done by Ashleigh Welch.
The project was progressed with client update meetings scheduled at regular intervals and a small project extension at the end, also allowed me to investigate the benefits of an app designed and marketed for the home owner.
The study involved the following components:
• Qualitative insight interviews consisting of over 30 building companies and clients
• Web app design and functionality recommendations
• Desktop research into similar sector specific online tools
• Alternative competitive software comparison
• Feasibility report with key findings, executive summary and recommendations
The report was well received and provided thorough all-round practical reasonings for feasibility. As there are many variables and factors that influence the feasibility, but the evidence and recommendations were laid out for Carreg to make an informed decision on whether to commercialise their app.
What I learned:
- Trying to segment building companies to find common themes from the insight interviews was very difficult. Age, staff, project value and business turnover did not appear to have any bearing on the way a business processes are managed. The mindset and leadership skills of the business owner was. I learned that you can’t always apply logic to understanding user types, as a user researcher you have to adopt a beginner’s mindset. I learned not to keep a broad perspective and not to hone in on the detail too much too quickly.
- Working with other consultants on a project like this helps to provide 360 degrees of the business. It allows me to challenge assumptions and to have mine challenged too.
- A SaaS requires huge financial investment in marketing to reach a large audience so that it delivers return on investment. Discovering your market and user needs is worth the time and effort before diving into the commercialisation of an app. Designing before research is like getting into a taxi and saying ‘just drive’.
"Michelle was recommend to work with us on a marketing feasibility study for a new construction app. She provided structure, objectivity and creativity. Michelle is amazingly talented; people feel instantly at ease in her company, which enables her to collect rich insights, that she absorbs, understands and presents fairly and objectively. Without her, I fear that we would have been biased; collecting results we wanted not what we needed. The feasibility report was clear, concise and easy to understand, giving us a lot to consider before proceeding to the next stage of the project. On a personal note, I thoroughly enjoyed working with Michelle and took a lot from the experience."
Ashleigh Welch, Business Support and Consultancy Services