Reece Group: Empowering employee innovation through easy-to-use tools
Creating a new platform that staff can use to easily raise ideas and solve problems.
At a glance
DiUS helped the Reece Group build The Ideas Channel, a platform that staff use to easily raise ideas and solve problems. It’s helped improve business practices and processes by keeping members of staff connected, engaged and always communicating — ensuring innovation is “always on”.
Meet the Reece Group
The Reece Group is a global group with businesses in ANZ and the US, and are leaders in Australian distribution of plumbing, waterworks and HVAC-R products to residential, commercial and infrastructure customers through 800 branches.
The team is committed to embracing new ways of helping customers get what they need and a big part of that is the innovation division, Next. Next is the internal innovation arm of the Reece Group – a design driven team focused on building innovation capability, processes and frameworks.
Driving innovation from the ground up
Next recognised that employees on-the-ground bring different insights than support and leadership teams as they are dealing directly with customers on a day-today basis. Encouraging workplace innovation not only helps companies stay on top of the market: innovative workplaces are also happier workplaces, with consistently higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention.
But, encouraging innovation isn’t easy. From juggling competing company priorities to just staying on top of day-to-day tasks, the Next team knew that they would need a simple way for employees to generate and offer new ideas.
Several aspects of this project needed to turn the complex into the simple. For example: developing and delivering a bespoke application that was easy to maintain and manage; and designing a user interface that encouraged members of staff to articulate and validate their innovative ideas with no barriers to participation.
The Toolkit was created over two engagements:
1. Innovation Projects – Establishing a framework and toolkit through which Reece employees could follow a seven-step process to define problems and explore potential solutions.
2. Express Ideas Channel – A simplified, one-page version of the Toolkit with a drop-down list of scenarios and activities that allowed for quicker problem and solution statements.
What we did
Clear and open lines of communication were key to delivering a positive experience
In the first engagement, DiUS provided technical delivery and user experience services while the second engagement focused on technical delivery. Overall, we delivered value to Reece because we brought agile ways of working, technical experience and capacity.
For both engagements, DiUS ran an inception workshop to ensure alignment with the team at Reece regarding project objectives and milestones. This agile way of working was one of the reasons why Reece chose DiUS, as it would allow for constant collaboration between stakeholders and continuous improvement at every stage of the product’s development. Planning and discovery sessions between DiUS and Reece also helped shape the requirements needed to kick-start the delivery phase of the project.
From a technical point of view, DiUS leveraged its experience and expertise to design and develop a platform that was easy to manage without extensive subject matter expertise – it was important for Reece to have a system that allowed for administrative control and configuration. The familiarity DiUS had with the chosen tech stack helped during the second engagement too, at which point Reece wanted greater integration with other internal systems.
By establishing two-week ‘sprints’ to complete pieces of work during the first engagement, DiUS could share progress with the Reece team during product showcases and gather feedback on where improvements could be made. This established a level of trust and transparency that gave Reece the confidence to move forward with the second engagement.
Product showcases also gave DiUS valuable feedback on its own work. For example, how the team displayed the project’s progress and what was required going forward. This helped the DiUS team make things more visually appealing and readable.
Throughout both engagements, DiUS made sure to impart knowledge on the Reece team when it came to ways of working, engineering expertise and digital product delivery. This would not only help Reece make the most of its innovation platform, but also continually improve its effectiveness and ultimately generate more ideas that could help the business.
Results for Reece Group
New ideas and positive user feedback
For both engagements, DiUS delivered the highest prioritised set of features that enabled Reece staff within required timelines and budget. Ongoing testing, enhancements, showcases and continuous deployments from this point until the solution went live, and was then handed over, meant that the team were able to deploy, measure and optimise technology to deliver the optimal experience.
The Ideas Channel collected 250+ ideas over the first months of launch with over 1,300 users. Feedback from users have been positive, saying that The Ideas Channel is easy to use, particularly with simple wayfinding and scenarios and activities that allowed for quicker problem and solution statements.
“We’ve worked with DiUS on this project through several iterations – from its inception through to where it is now which is a widely used product and tool that fosters innovation throughout our business. A great build partner who approaches technology from a creative and innovative lens that has helped us build a product that we know will have longevity far into the future.”
– Tyler Ross, Strategic Design Director, Next – Reece Group