Artemis - McGraw-Hill Higher Education XD

What can other companies and teams learn from the successes and failures of the way your product, service, or other experience influenced the financial prosperity of the business?: 


Bring them value, giftwrapped in context

We learned what the customer valued in order to offer them solutions that fit within the given context to drive better business results.  Our design is returning McGraw-Hill over 5X’s their development costs, because of the efficiencies it’s producing for their field sales representatives.  The design achieved this by unifying disparate systems, embedding controls, and most importantly, structuring information in the context of use.  One rep found the app so intuitive and relevant that he said, “this app is so smart, it’s like it thinks for me”.  Looking back, we could not have achieved this without McGraw-Hill’s investment in ethnographic research.  The insights our team uncovered, through time spend with the customer, observing their key needs, drove the design towards the solution we ultimately delivered.  

An average McGraw-Hill rep supports thousands of educators, across more than a dozen college campuses, reps were at the mercy of the complex and disparate schedules of their contacts.  Their time on campus was precious, and frequently spent running back and forth across campuses, trying to track down their most important contacts.  Because we understood this as their greatest challenge, our design had to make it easy to search and sort those contacts by first narrowing the results down to a given campus.  Then by using criteria that matter to a rep department or dollar value, the app brings priority contacts to the surface.  

College professors are only available during their posted office hours, understanding this limitation empowered us to create a design that visualized all of the office hours of a given department or campus in a graphical timeline.  Our design enables reps to easily identify the optimal time to visit any given department.  Allowing them to be there when more professors are available and be more efficient while closing more sales.  

Capturing what end users value was not just an initial input but also helped the team to continue to reframe and prioritize throughout the design process.  We were able to leverage what’s valuable to the user as a means to drive adoption; which subsequently delivered a greater than expected business outcome.  While in the process of designing, we observed that most reps were using third party apps to take notes.  Our workshops with reps and usability testing of the app uncovered that “notes” was one of the most valuable features. Understanding the value reps derived from a notes feature helped our team to, deliver higher value items first.  “Notes”, was one of many features we helped McGraw-Hill to prioritize, which ultimately translated into end users finding immediate value in this application.  Recognizing this value has led to, this app having the highest adoption rate of any tool launched at McGraw-Hill; 98% of users surveyed said, “they use the app daily”.

Please explain how the economic impact of your product, service, or other experience was measured and, if possible, provide specific numbers.: 


It takes an investment to get ROI

We partnered with McGraw-Hill to invest the additional time required to measure the impact of this design.  After exploring a number of potential avenues clearest impacts came from three areas.

Time savings

Increased sales

Reduced training time

Key tasks are now 66.7% faster and reps on average save 5.725 hours per week by using our design.  Reps have experienced this efficiency as an opportunity to increase in sales because they feel better prepared and thus able to reach more customers each week.  This design also cut the learning time for new hires in half, saving two and half months of training time in the field.

Other impacts of note are: improvement in employee satisfaction, which we anticipate will translate into lower turnover rates.  Reps have increased the frequency with which they update records using the app, unlocking a tremendous amount of value for the management team.

Our methodology for calculating these ROI metrics includes the following three inputs:

1. Field Time Study; 8 MHHE reps completed 1 hour of pre and post time study testing on key workflows; measuring efficiency of existing tools against the new design.

2. Web Survey; 44% of their reps responded to 10 survey questions that informed inputs considered for the ROI model.

3. Revenue Model; The MHHE management team helped us build a fact based model on revenue growth and cost savings. 

How did you originally establish and generate buy-in for the business value of designing and implementing your product, service, or other experience, and how did its actual performance coincide with or differ from predictions?: 


Steer the strategy before you start the journey

Two key ingredients positioned McGraw-Hill to invest in experience design fueling this project’s success.

- The client had prior experience offering mobile tools that didn’t meet the end users needs.

- We developed a mobile strategy with the client, to shape the goals, before the project started

We are most often asked to develop internal facing applications for enterprise customers, who consider design an optional investment.   When developing mobile apps, experience design is key to adoption, where desktop, intranet or portals are something people acclimate to, they will simply not adopt a mobile tool if it is not easy, useful and interesting to use. The advent of mobile tools in the workplace has opened a door for businesses to invest in experience design.   This client had experienced the pain of a mobile solution that wasn’t designed with their business in mind and they did not want to make that mistake again.

Before McGraw-Hill agreed to build this mobile app, we helped them shape a vision for this application.  By mapping the current user experience and prioritizing their pain points and desired features, we helped McGraw-Hill build a stronger list of initial requirements.  This allowed us to define the overall strategy before the scope of the project was set.  

During the initial strategy project two key goals were established, identify actionable data to surface and create efficiency for reps on campus.  No quantified business case was required, as MHHE’s management team believed that delivering on those two goals would generate adequate business value verse the required investment.  This approach ensured the success of this design initiative, and proved the McGraw-Hill management team was right, as this app is returning a least 5X’s the initial investment.  Based on the key drivers of that return, it’s also clear that McGraw-Hill’s investment in experience design made this success story possible.