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Guest Blog: 'RedCritter Tracker– Gamifying the Work Place', By Jeff Coghlan, Matmi MD
20/02/2012

Jeff Coghlan, Matmi MD, talks about RedCritter. A project management tool that adds gaming and fun to the workplace!

RedCritter Tracker - Gamifying the Work Place

The Matmi world has been rotating for 10 years now, developing new digital creations and having fun with it. It’s been an amazing ride. We love all things digital and love to experiment with new technology. Our project management has evolved from the primordial digital soup of our beginnings to a state where multiple projects need managing at the same time.

In true Matmi nature, we have experimented with many of the common project management tools and methodologies. We landed on the SCRUM Agile methodology and it fitted us perfectly. Matmi is constantly moving forward at a rapid pace, learning and developing alongside new technologies as we go. So the SCRUM Agile method was a natural progression.

Once we had set out on this road, it became clear the tools we were using for Project Management just didn’t feel right for the Matmi world. They were too dry…dull even. Not that the average company would see ‘fun’ being a prerequisite of Project Management tools. However, Matmi are not an average company. We pride ourselves on our unique attitudes to digital design and creativity.

Then, as if the winds of fate blew our way, we stumbled across RedCritter Tracker. The digital Gods had answered the Matmian whimpers. A project management tool that added a level of gaming to everything we do. What more could we ask for?

What is it?
RedCritter Tracker is a project management tool that works perfectly with the software development 'SCRUM' methodology. Each task is allocated to individuals and has a stop-start timer attached to it. It uses game dynamics such as points, achievements and badges to motivate staff, particularly when working on the more tedious tasks of software development; gamification and project management in perfect harmony.

How does it work?

The trade-off of earning badges and points is that the programmers allow a level of surveillance over their work by a 'SCRUM Master' (project leader). The project leader can track which task an individual has started, how long they have been working on it, how long it took them to complete other tasks and what tasks they have left to do.

The reward system (badges and points) provides a visual way to mark your own progress on a project. There are 50 badges in total to try and earn, some of which can be 'stolen' by colleagues (such as 'Marathoner' which is awarded to the person who has logged the most hours in the last 7 days). Each individual also has a RedCritter Tracker profile which can be shared publicly, showing off your current and past achievements (a bit like an Xbox or PS3 trophy profile).

It's not all just about the badges. Project leaders can assign points to individual tasks (depending on difficulty or time it takes to complete). These points can then be saved up and exchanged in the RedCritter Tracker store to treat yourself to a pressie. These rewards were voted for by the Matmi staff. Take a look at the kind of thing they aim to spend their hard earned points on (not ashamed to say they are very geek friendly):



Having tangible rewards that my fellow Matmians actually want has been seen to help with motivation and makes them think more about how they spend their own work time.

Whilst using RedCritter Tracker, we have also found it created a healthy amount of competition between individuals for collecting certain badges or being the first to reach a milestone in points. This naturally led to an increase in work efficiency without the feeling of being pressured into it.

It might not seem like much, but there is also a great sense of satisfaction dragging a finished task into the ‘delivered’ column. At times, being rewarded with points is simply an added bonus. (It’s true, it really is the little things in life)

Overall, planning a new project or setting up a new sprint has become much more manageable and it has made it easy to assign new tasks to individuals. Everyone knows what they are doing, where they fit into a project and when their tasks are due for completion.

Are there any pitfalls to watch out for?
As with any gamified system implemented within a business, there are issues to be aware of.

If the points system is not implemented fairly it can actually end up being de-moralising for those who feel they do not get the credit they deserve for the tasks completed. The calculation of points vs task effort took a bit of tweaking to ensure it was fair for everyone.

The task timers are great for reasons mentioned, however they are at times accidentally left running which can skew the tracking data. It has taken a few weeks to get used to being more diligent with stopping these timers. (The guys at RedCritter actually took this on-board and added in a manual timer edit function)

The tangible rewards in the RedCritter Tracker store need to be agreed upon as a company to include items that everyone would desire. They also need to be realistically attainable.

Summary
Despite the teething problems at the start, RedCritter Tracker has so far proved to be a fantastic piece of software.

The gamification of project management (or applying game dynamics within the work place) can be a touchy subject for some but we have found it to be a top notch way of managing projects and would recommend anyone giving it a go.

For a company who have a history of developing games, adding a touch of gaming to the actual project management process was bound to be a winner....we work to play to win!

[You can get a free trial of RedCritter Tracker here: www.redcrittertracker.com/features.aspx ]

p.s. I would just like to make it clear that ‘Gamification’ is not a term I am completely comfortable using. It smacks of a fad which has no longevity. I prefer to discuss the theory using the terms ‘Game Dynamics’ or ‘Game Mechanics’. It’s a personal preference and I will no doubt still use the buzz word ‘Gamification’ due to its’ current mass appeal and growing acceptance in the industry. There are many walks of life which already make use of game mechanics (not all have to be digital) and many other areas where implementing the theory would be extremely beneficial to all concerned. Drop us a line if you want to find out more.

Jeff Coghlan, Matmi MD
info@matmi.com
Twitter: @Matmi
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Matmi

A little bit about Matmi New Media Design Ltd.

Matmi was born in 2001 because its founder, Jeff Coghlan, thought the Internet was extremely boring. Why were so many people putting so much text on static websites when the Internet was (and still is) like having unlimited TV channels running 24/7?

With entertainment and fun in mind, Matmi created a free online game to drive traffic to the first Matmi website. The unexpected success of the game (millions of plays, worldwide reach) set the company on a new course to become the award-winning, full service digital agency (with a twist) that you see today.

They engage leading global brands and buyers in successful, loyal relationships by creating pioneering digital solutions, games and apps across web, mobile, social and IPTV.

For more information visit www.matmi.com


February 2012

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