Centrical at CSU-Global: A How-to Guide for Choosing Gamification

Derrick Pope, Director of Enrollment at CSU-Global Campus, recently launched one of the first gamified enterprise experiences for higher education employees. He’s written some great blog posts detailing the process that led him to choose gamification (and eventually opt for Centrical). In his blogs, he shares some experiences and advice on the process (read his blogs here).

Since we love his ideas, we produced a summary of the great tips he provides about the process of choosing gamification, deciding how to make use of gamification and selecting vendors of gamification platforms.

Internal Gamification: First Steps to Winning Success

According to Pope, you must answer two key questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish with gamification; and
  • How are you going to achieve those goals?

Although it’s tempting to jump in and start talking to vendors, first get a clear picture of what you require or you’ll end up with a solution that doesn’t fit your goals.

After you’ve answered the questions, take these 4 steps to map out your gamification solution:

  1. Define your goals. What exactly do you want your gamification solution to address and how will it help your business and your employees?
  2. Identify the environment you are going to gamify. What systems you are looking to enhance with gamification? What do your employees use every day to complete their tasks? Keep your eyes open for chances to expand if needed or advantageous.
  3. Understand your users. By designing your gamification solution with your users or players in mind, you are more likely to create a positive and effective experience that benefits their work and engages them.
  4. Determine how you’d like to implement your goals. Since multiple reports show the best gamification systems rise above points, badges, and leaderboards, do the research and find the most effective game elements for your business.

When you present your idea to leadership, use examples of the impact of gamification for employee engagement, development, and performance that fit your situation and industry.

Choosing the Best Solution for Your Organization’s Goals

According to Pope, there are 4 things to look out for when choosing a vendor to avoid future pit-falls:

Build vs. Buy

Building your own gamification solution is a risky and complicated business and can result in the insertion of game mechanics into your system that are not  thoughtful, not easy for users, nor engaging or rewarding. If that is the case, users won’t use gamification and therefore it won’t be beneficial to them or the organization. Instead, choose a vendor with proven strategies to boost engagement and increase player satisfaction.

4 Things to Know About a Solution Before You Buy

There are many options available and a lot of information to review. Most vendors have really great resources on their websites, but do the full demo to really understand their offering. Also, gather as much information as you can before connecting with sales staff as their ability to communicate their solution is a strong reflection of their ability to deliver a great product. Find the solution that best addresses the goals you set up initially and that fits your needs. As you are engaging with sales staff try the following:

1: Explore their innovation and customization. As each company presents their solution ask for examples of how organizations created new and exciting elements to add to their product. Find out how organizations have been able to customize their solution to meet specific needs.

2: Understand the development cycle. The complexity of your needs and your choice of vendor will significantly determine how long it will take to implement and how many people will be involved. Also, if their dev team is located overseas it can slow down your project.

3: Plan for evolution. Your solution needs to be able to grow with your business and needs. What kind of maintenance support does the vendor provide? How difficult is it to add elements or redesign parts of your system? Ask for specific examples.

4: Broad appeal. Ensure your solution is attractive to multiple audiences as each department has unique traits, different daily activities, and employees has varying play and engagement styles. You need a robust mix of tools, activities, game mechanics, and elements.

After careful consideration, Pope chose Centrical: “This vendor was uniquely positioned to meet my need for employee development along with gamifying key performance indicators (KPIs) for our staff. We looked at a lot of solutions and Centrical was able to deliver dynamic content for increasing employee mastery of their role through exciting e-learning opportunities, while providing a variety of elements for members of all departments and play styles.”

Internal Gamification: Design and Implementation

Pope cautions that while the excitement for this stage is palpable — seeing your gamification dream turn to reality — there are dangerous pitfalls as the work you do here will determine the success or failure of your system.

Designing Your Gamification System

All the decisions you make in the design process need to be aligned with your project goals, keep your players in mind, and be an experience that promotes user engagement.

You’ll also need to recruit a  diverse project team well versed and up to speed in the gamification concept to help with the design and implementation process.

Implementing Your Gamification System

Read some of the top gamification tips for a successful design process from Pope’s team members — Amy Marshall, TJ Turner, and Centrical VP Marketing Roni Floman.

Two final gamification tips for the design process:

  1. Set a realistic timeline. A too-aggressive project timeline doesn’t allow for a full team to be utilized as people have other responsibilities.
  2. Testing is key. Allow ample time to test your solution before you go live. Complaining about errors is not the way you want your employees to engage.

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