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Development of software to support collaborative decision-making

Digital Situation Room – SituationR

FAS Research is a leading international analysis and consulting company for the application and further development of network sciences to solve strategic questions in a business context.

For over 25 years, FAS Research has been helping global corporations, public institutions and leading non-profit foundations find robust answers and make resilient decisions with strategic network analysis and proprietary digital tools.

For this purpose, proven methods in the context of designing interactive group processes, among others, have been used for many years. These methods enable teams to make strategic decisions in short periods of time.

FAS Research commissioned the dmcgroup to optimize and further develop the Situation R workshop software as part of a partnership.

Client: FAS Research

Since: 2021

Services:

Backend Development Frontend Development Interaction Design Visual Interface
Situation R
Situation R

Initial situation

One of the goals of FAS Research is to support companies and organizations in decision making and co-creation of innovative/strategic/business solutions.

Together with company stakeholders, FAS Research’s experienced workshop facilitators help to identify and interpret patterns and trends in business settings.

The workshops from FAS Research enable teams to quickly assess the situation in volatile situations – not least thanks to the web-based Situation Room process software “Situation R” for face-to-face and remote workshops.

The aim of the collaboration between FAS Research and dmcgroup was to optimize this tool.

Situation R

Challenges before the redesign of the tool

At the beginning, there were a wide variety of challenges that had to be overcome with the help of Situation R:

  • Historically grown tool with extensive code base
  • Lack of flexibility to be able to map current needs in the tool
  • No intuitive operation for participants (desktop use only)
  • Lack of focus of the tool for facilitators in the workshop
  • Display of irrelevant information for participants

Nach einer umfassenden gemeinsamen Evaluierungsphase entschied sich das Team von FASresearch und dmcgroup für die ganzheitliche Neuentwicklung einer Softwarelösung mit modernen Open-Source-Frameworks. This created the basis for a leaner and more maintainable, future-proof application.

In addition to the new technical start, a complete overhaul of the UI and interaction design was at the beginning of the project.

Situation R Tool
Situation R Tool

Backend and Frontend Development

Our new development of the FAS Research Situation Room

The SituationR software fulfills several functions in the FAS Research workshops:

  • Planning of the agenda and preparation of the workshop by moderators
  • Guidance through the workshop: presentation and instructions
  • Decision-making by workshop participants in the evaluation process via smartphone
  • Real-time feedback on workshop participation for facilitators
  • Presentation of the results

This makes the web-based SituationR software a prime example of the implementation of an omnichannel user journey: the design of the user interface is optimized for different use cases and digital touchpoints.

Technically, we also put the tool on a new footing: SituationR uses Node.js and MySQL on the backend to provide an interface (API) for the frontend. This is based on the popular JavaScript framework Vue.js and uses additional plugins like Chart.js and Cytoscape.js. For real-time control of a workshop, WebSockets are also used as the transfer technology.

Through the services of Microsoft Azure and GitHub, it is possible to deploy new versions automatically and quickly and ensure smooth operation.

“The tool has grown historically and was not intuitive enough for the end users and also for the moderators. dmcgroup’s experience in user experience design put an end to that in one fell swoop.”

Mag. Christian Gulas, Chief Science Officer (CSO) und Partner | FAS Research

Ongoing Design support

Continuing partnership

The teams from dmcgroup and FAS Research applied the principles of agile software development to the collaboration right from the start.

This allowed FAS Research to adjust the course of the work at any time and determine new priorities depending on the current situation – and to put finished software into operation at the end of each two-week sprint.

This meant that the software could be tested in productive use (almost) from day 1.

Situation R

Ongoing feedback from the field for improvement

The close cooperation with the main user group of the software – the workshop moderators from FAS Research – continuously provided the project team with valuable feedback from the field.
The basic design principles were confirmed by positive feedback from workshops. Feedback on optimization potential was immediately incorporated into the development process.
Thus, the software has been and will be continuously improved. The key performance indicators confirm the success:

  • Positive feedback from facilitators from workshop practice
  • Measurement of high interaction rates in the workshops
  • Sharp decline in reconciliation problems
Erfolgsmodell für agile ZusammenarbeitDie Teams von dmcgroup und FASresearch wandten von Beginn an die Prinzipien der agilen Softwareentwicklung für die Zusammenarbeit an.Dadurch konnte FASresearch jederzeit den Kurs der Arbeit anpassen und neue Prioritäten je nach aktueller Situation bestimmen – und am Ende eines jeden zweiwöchigen Sprints fertige Software in Betrieb nehmen.So konnte die Software (beinahe) von Tag 1 an im produktiven Einsatz gestestet werden.Laufendes Feedback aus der Praxis zur VerbesserungDie enge Zusammenarbeit mit der Hauptnutzergruppe der Software – den Workshop-Moderator:innen von FASresearch – brachte laufend wertvolles Feedback aus der Praxis ins Projektteam.Die grundlegenden Designprinzipien wurden durch positives Feedback aus Workshops bestätigt. Rückmeldungen zu Optimierungspotential flossen umgehend wieder in die Entwicklung ein.Damit wurde und wird die Software laufend verbessert. Die Key Performance Indikatoren bestätigen den Erfolg:Positive Rückmeldungen von Moderator:innen aus der Workshop-PraxisMessung hoher Interaktionsraten in den WorkshopsStarker Rückgang von Problemen bei der AbstimmungIterative Umsetzung in einem integrierten, multidisziplinären TeamNeben den inhaltlichen Erfolgen, die wir mit der Neuentwicklung der Software SituationR erzielen konnten, freut uns besonders die einzigartige, partnerschaftliche Zusammenarbeit mit dem Team von FASresearch.Den Erfolg des Projektes verdanken wir zu einem großen Teil der gewählten Arbeitsmethode:1Projektstart mit InceptionZeit für initiales, gemeinsames Erkunden der Projektlandschaft und Aufgabenstellung2Agile ArbeitsweiseBestens gewappnet für die permanente Anpassung von Prioritäten und das Einbringen neuer Ideen in den Prozess3Partnerschaftliche ZusammenarbeitProjektpartner auf Augenhöhe statt nur Kunde und Auftragnehmer4Regelmäßiger AustauschFixe, gemeinsame Termine wie Analyse, Review und wöchentliche Standups für Kontinuität in der Zusammenarbeit5User ResearchKonstanter Kontakt mit der Hauptzielgruppe für kontinuierliches Feedback und Iteration6Time & Material ModellVolle Transparenz auch bei gemeinsamer Budgetplanung und AbrechnungDiese Prinzipien stellen das Fundament unserer erfolgreichen Zusammenarbeit im Projekt dar.Ein Projekt, das Sinn stiftet & allen Beteiligten großen Spaß macht.

Iterative implementation in an integrated, multidisciplinary team

The team behind Situation R has created a tool that does not exist in this form. In recent years, the (further) development of Situation R has been massively driven forward by each individual. Thanks to the expertise, know-how and, last but not least, the motivation of our team members, Situation R has been as successful as it is.

In addition to the content-related successes that we were able to achieve with the new development of the SituationR software, we are particularly pleased with the unique, cooperative partnership with the FAS Research team.
The success of the project is largely due to the chosen working method:

  1. Project start with Inception
    Time for initial, joint exploration of the project landscape and task definition
  2. Agile Working
    Best equipped for the permanent adjustment of priorities and the introduction of new ideas into the process
  3. Collaboration in partnership
    Project partners at eye level instead of just customer and contractor
  4. Regular exchange
    Fixed, joint appointments such as analysis, review and weekly standups for continuity in collaboration
  5. User Research
    Constant contact with the main target group for continuous feedback and iteration
  6. Time & Material Modell
    Full transparency even with joint budget planning and billing
    These principles are the foundation of our successful cooperation in the project.

A project that creates meaning & is great fun for all involved.

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svg+xml;charset=utf dmcgroup

Ongoing Design support

Continuing partnership

In addition to the SituationR tool, we support FAS Research as a design agency in all design matters. Since the beginning of the collaboration, we have been able to relaunch the website, design all kinds of print materials and prepare sales documents, such as a PowerPoint master.

Our Team

The team behind Situation R has created a tool that does not exist in this form. In recent years, the (further) development of Situation R has been massively driven forward by each individual. Thanks to the expertise, know-how and, last but not least, the motivation of our team members, Situation R has been as successful as it is.

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Tamara Himler

Tamara Himler, Client Service Director
M +43 676 93 83 137
tamara.himler@dmcgroup.eu