When I joined Sametrica they had a version of logic model builder software that used an outside survey tool for data collection. However, that survey tool had been acquired by a US company and would no longer house data in Canada. Since The Government of Canada required that Canadian data be housed in the country, we needed to build our own survey tool to continue serving our largest customer.
Prior to my arrival, the previous product manager had done extensive user research in the government space and identified the biggest pain point; getting clean reliable normalized data. The backlog was populated with epics and story titles (the body of the stories had yet to be written). Additionally, the team had started building using a template for the UI. This was good because it cut down on the look and feel decisions and allowed me to focus on the functionality and behaviors. The Canadian team was operating on a skeleton crew, so it was up to the CTO, an outside development team and me to get this app to MVP.
On the one hand we needed to build a baseline survey product as quickly and efficiently as possible. On the other hand we had the opportunity to integrate features specific to data collection for social impact that did not exist in any other survey tools.
- Government program directors, analysts, compliance officers
- NGO/nonprofit executive directors, program managers, staff
We got to work getting the basics in place as quickly as possible.
Universal design considerations
Working with the Government of Canada accessibility and usability were a baseline expectation. However, our research had uncovered that Government, NGO and Nonprofit users were generally not tech savvy, and did not have access to very current software or computers. We found that they needed UI with larger buttons and text, clear concise helper text, bright consistent colors, and logical evident sequences of events.
High value table stakes
Other survey tools had a myriad of features. Our resources were limited so we chose to build select features that would add the highest value for impact measurement users. Transfer of data was a big pain point for many government users, so we added Edit in bulk functionality. Large surveys that lead individual respondents through varying sequences of questions was prevalent in nonprofits, so we added skip logic.
Canadian Government specific table stakes
Additionally we built basic features with slight modifications that catered to requirements and points of pain for the Government of Canada.
Requirement: Canadian Government data and correspondence must be available in both English and French. multi-lingual toggle, assignment and review capabilities. Universal, Form setup dual? Context specific for ease of language toggle during question creation.
Point of pain: Respondent ID functionality. Government needs to normalize data not only from many disparate sources, but repeatedly over time. Most program outcomes are measured based on benchmarks so being able to track individual data from multiple sources and time periods is important. Since we were starting from scratch, we had the opportunity to add this epic to our Data Collector MVP.
New functionality based on latent social impact measurement needs
Social impact surveys are often distributed and redistributed beyond organizations. Each new purveyor of a survey might add questions. Our surveys had to be simple enough for anyone in the impact measurement framework to use. To accommodate for these use cases we included cascading assignment and permissioning epics. We saved time and money since the developers were able to integrate the functionality from the start. This app rapidly became the only impact measurement specific data collection tool on the market.
This sample story showcases our innovation of cascading survey assignment:
Product ownership learning
Since no actual product had been built, I got the opportunity to learn product ownership. As product owner I ensured we delivered necessary survey functionality, facilitated design sprints with stakeholders to incorporate impact measurement specific features, and coordinated Q&A with the development team during the sprint. All of this in a timely manner that kept us focused on delivering MVP without missing the innovation opportunities.
- Backlog prioritization/grooming
- Epic formulation
- Story writing
- Sprint management
- Product management for agile environment