Like many organisations, BRANZ is working to expand its digital capability. Implementing new digital products is challenging, so it may be helpful to you to apply some of what we have learned along the way.
DEVELOPING BRANZ’S digital capability is strategically important to us. We want to serve our customers better and remain digitally current and agile. We want our staff to have greater digital skills. We want to deliver our knowledge in ways that integrate into the working lives of our construction industry users.
Lessons BRANZ learned
Before introducing our latest digital product MyBRANZ Knowledge, I want to outline what we learned about becoming more digital.
These lessons apply to many parts of business, not just digital, so I challenge you to think where you could apply these lessons to your work.
Lesson 1: Get started
Start small, but start. Our digital journey is a big strategic shift, and I found that the size and complexity was scary and challenging. It was easy to think about the possibilities but hard to get on and deliver something tangible.
Eventually, a roadmap was developed and agreed with the BRANZ Board. This led to the chatbot found at branzfind.co.nz. This quick win gave us the confidence to accelerate other initiatives.
Lesson 2: Be courageous
Try and fail fast. The BRANZ Board gave us explicit permission to try and fail fast. Even with permission, for me, this translates as ‘be courageous’.
Be prepared to take a small step, commit money and resources, stop and change activity if you’re not getting the right result. The project may fall behind or even be cancelled, but with this learning in mind, the end result will be the right one.
Lesson 3: Involve customers
Customer involvement is critical. Gone are the days when people were told how they want their information. For example, MyBRANZ Knowledge has been co-designed with our customers from the start.
When users log in to MyBRANZ Knowledge, they will see features that they have asked for – all BRANZ information in one place and videos at the top if they’re using a mobile device. There is also region-specific information, and the site is simple and uncluttered. We’re monitoring the back end too, so if something can’t be found, we will work on fixing that.
Lesson 4: Have the right capability
Have the right type of digital capability, at the right time. MyBRANZ Knowledge was developed by external partners. We made the decision that this was the right approach for BRANZ as we do not intend to become app developers, preferring to leave that to the experts.
We expect strong uptake of MyBRANZ Knowledge and other digital products. With this comes an increased need to support, monitor and make enhancements. While the partner model is OK for now, we are planning for the right capability at BRANZ to support these.
Lesson 5: Encourage behaviour change
Don’t underestimate how difficult it is to change behaviour. This is the big one. You may build the most beautiful, functional product that does everything, but without a compelling ‘what’s in it for me’, the product will become another unused app on a phone or bookmark in a browser.
I certainly underestimated this at BRANZ when we implemented a completely new system to manage projects, keep track of our finances, consolidate our customer records and improve our processes and efficiency.
We spent a huge amount of effort getting ready for the launch. On day 1, everyone was ready and using the system. The ‘what’s in it for me’ was strong. We didn’t have a choice – all the old systems were turned off. All went reasonably well. It wasn’t until later in the year that the promised benefits were not being seen.
When I thought about why, it was clear that we hadn’t moved the project from an IT implementation project to a behaviour change project.
The project’s focus now is about ‘what’s in it for me’. We are clear about the benefits and are supporting our staff to be confident in using the tool and about the data it is showing them.
Even when the old systems are unavailable and there is compelling benefit for users, it is easy to go back to what you know. The human change management approach is necessary for true success.
MyBRANZ Knowledge needs your help
Designed with our customers, MyBRANZ Knowledge delivers personalised knowledge where, when and how users want it. Its predictive functionality recognises what content users have already interacted with and predicts what else might be relevant.
Even with the artificial intelligence we are employing, BRANZ needs your help. MyBRANZ Knowledge is in its infancy and still learning. We are asking users to try it and then give feedback to our development team.
Go to mybranzknowledge.branz.nz, sign up and let us know what you like and how we can make it better for you.