Gladstone Software - Flexible and scalable web applications for Gladstone and the leisure industry
Product strategy, design and engineering teams working with Gladstone to solve the challenges faced in delivering customer-facing web applications to the leisure industry.
The challenge: Create flexible, featureful, revenue-driving web applications to fit the many leisure operator business models
Gladstone Software is the leading supplier of Leisure Management Software in the UK and Ireland. The business has a long and successful history of software engineering, serving the complex needs of leisure operators; from single-site leisure operators (such as University gyms) to nationwide chains - including those operating multiple public sector contracts as well as private household names.
The scale and complexity of the business models and product pricing structures that Gladstone's end clients use varies significantly. So they needed a product delivery team who could help them strategise, conceive and deliver flexible and featureful customer-facing web applications that would meet the industry's varied needs. Not just the needs as they stand today – future-proofed and ready for whatever new challenges and pressures leisure industry operators may meet.
iCrossing's history of successfully delivering transactional membership applications and award-winning digital transformation work for leisure operators (as well as wider experience working with Speedo and England Athletics / This Girl Can) made us the perfect partner to support Gladstone's creation of new customer-facing membership sign up, online booking and member profile web applications.
“Over the past six years we've built an extremely strong and collaborative relationship with iCrossing which is paramount when creating a digital experience that truly works and serves our customers. The digital experience will continue to play an ever increasing role and I'm looking forward to building on these foundations in the months and years ahead.”
The approach: Product strategy with limited assumptions
Having designed and engineered similar applications in the past, the most dangerous approach would have been to dive in without fully immersing ourselves in the structures, processes and ways of working for different types of leisure operator.
Listening, asking and listening some more
We assembled a panel of stakeholders from Gladstone end clients: the Special Interest Group (SIGs). This enabled our Discovery & Insights phase to tap into a nationwide operator, a regional operator with an extremely varied mix of facilities, a smaller self-managed Council facility, and an operator blending the needs of their local community alongside peaks of tourist traffic.
Strategising feature delivery for complex applications
Our team of product managers, designers and engineers collaborated closely with Gladstone and the SIGs through a series of workshops, interviews, analysis and desk-based research to devise a product strategy.
And our product feature mapping matrix came into its own, as we carefully documented just enough detail for each feature before rating their risk, impact, effort and the final priority based on business value.
To ensure an unbiased approach, we factored in weighted inputs from the various functions within Gladstone, their product leaders, senior management and the SIGs.
This approach not only provided us with a solid sprint plan, it also set delivery expectations and highlighted some critical "unknown" elements at the core of the applications.
Our feature mapping matrix was an invaluable tool for the Gladstone research and development team to plan 12+ months of work streams, creating and servicing APIs to support the front end.
The execution: Join, Book and Self-Service
Product Strategy / UX & UI Product Design / Progressive Web App
Through a single ecosystem, we conceived a membership joining product and a booking product. Either could be licensed to end clients in isolation but they also had to work seamlessly together.
The workshops and interviews emphasised the value placed on human resource. Far too many mandate queries and tasks were tying up staff on-site, robbing them of valuable face-to-face time with their members.
A membership account / profile was introduced for features related to "self-service" but also to create a more "sticky" experience for members by providing summary data and convenience for day-to-day activities. This also provided a bedrock from which Gladstone would further mould and develop the value born out of user engagement – beyond transactional processes – for the years ahead.
Applications servicing the demands of the UK & Ireland leisure industry
For most product delivery teams, the solutions they conceive invariably need to cater for a variety of end user needs. Gladstone's applications service an entire industry rather than a single client.
This scale adds complexity. Either through load or variety born out of the number of leisure operators, each with their own products and pricing models, managing all manor of leisure facilities and interacting with millions of users across the UK & Ireland.
400 leisure operator clients with unique business models to be accommodated by the white label application
2m+ public users of the applications, representing a broad range of needs, goals and services being consumed
52 weeks dedicated product teams collaborating closely with the client's Research & Development team