"The word I would use to describe my overall experience of working with Bad Dinosaur would be 'inspiring'. We thought we knew exactly what we wanted, and they helped us understand what we needed and how to achieve it."
Susan Scurlock, Founder and CEO
Primary Engineer's aim is to inspire children, pupils and teachers through continued professional development, whole class project work, competitions and exhibitions. They call this the "STEM by Stealth" educational approach.
Jen Scurlock, Program Director, approached Bad Dinosaur create an online platform for teachers and students to engage in STEM learning, which highlighted the skills that students gained during project based learning by tracking the competencies that they have gained.
Unfortunately, Primary Engineer had already spent a large part of their budget developing a reporting tool which was not fit for purpose, and was not in line with their vision: to put the students first.
"Clients that have had a negative experience building their product can find it really hard to place their trust in a new development team and start over again. We knew we needed to be a partner to Jen and Susan, to gain their trust and get the project moving again."
Kyle Whittington, Bad Dinosaur
The first challenge was to distill what Primary Engineer actually wanted to achive, as opposed to building a specification around what they belived was possible. This comprised of several product design sessions where we discussed personas they'd like to target as well as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the project. These sessions helped to understand Primary Engineer's core values and allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of their expectations.
We gave Primary Engineer a vision of how their software could look in 12 month's time, and then broke this into four key phases. The first phase was to build an MVP which would enable Primary Engineer to get their idea into the hands of teachers, and gain valuble feedback which would enable them to iterate on their idea in the future.
"After a few hours of asking difficult questions and making Susan and Jen think about the people they were trying to target, we'd completely changed their mind about what it was they were building. The project turned from a lifeless "reporting tool" into a collaborative, student-focused project hub in a matter of hours. I have no doubt that we helped them to build a much better product."
Russ Peterson, Bad Dinosaur
We built the first phase of the project as an MVP using our co-design process. This featured weekly meetings with Jen Scurlock from Primary Engineer to show the progress so far and get her feedback. Towards the second half of development, we gave Jen weekly functioning builds of the software to try out and give feedback.
Throughout the development, Jen had access to our tracker where she could see our progress in real time. In the weekly co-design meetings, Jen had the ability to request new functionality and prioritise the workload. This allowed for the ultimate flexibility in what turned out to be a very creative development process.
The MVP was delivered on time and on budget, and allowed Primary Engineer to see their idea finally come to life. The first teachers were trained in a sandboxed environment in June 2017. In September 2017, after an aditional phase of development, the software was successfuly launched to several schools across Scotland as part of a pilot scheme.
"Our meetings are always enjoyable and productive. I enjoy the co-design aspect of Bad Dinosaur and really value it. As a manager it is great to have such a good handle on the product and an understanding of the technical obstacles to your project goals."
Jen Scurlock, Programme Director
We continue to work closely with Primary Engineer to prioritise features for future development of the software and to fit development phases into their budget. Primary Engineer is currently looking at creative ways of using the platform and its data to challenge and improve the way STEM education is delivered in Primary and Secondary schools around the world.
The Primary Engineer software is running on our enterprise-grade managed cloud hosting service, which is taken care of by Bad Dinosaur 24/7/365. This means that Jen and Susan never have to worry about the availability of their software, nor do they have to install security updates - it's all taken care of by us.
We're satisifed that we've changed the client's whole perception of software development from a labourious and frustrating task to a fulfilling and positive experience, and Primary Engineer now sees software as a central part of their future growth strategy.