Innovation from the garage: ti&m places
ti&m garage // This year we’ve launched a modern workplace booking system onto the market, and its name is ti&m places. It was developed by an interdisciplinary team at our very own ‘innovation forge’.
Walls scribbled all over, Post-its on every available surface, and designers and developers all talking animatedly at once. That’s generally what you can expect from a ti&m garage! It might sound a little chaotic, but there’s method in the madness. And most importantly of all, a goal. That goal is the MVP, or minimum viable product. So, the goal is clear, though the journey there is sometimes rather less so.
But let’s start at the beginning. Even before the coronavirus, we’d been considering developing a workplace management tool. Our offices were overcrowded, and the Excel lists that we used as a booking tool were laborious and not particularly user-friendly. During lockdown, working from home became mandatory and offices were only permitted a skeleton staff; after lockdown, a hybrid workplace strategy came into play. Once again, the coronavirus wasn’t necessarily the trigger, but rather the impetus to find a solution.
We set out three minimum requirements for our booking system:
- It had to be fully integrated into Microsoft Teams. We didn’t want any disruption; no additional apps or log-ins. It had to be as easy to use as possible.
- Maps. In our research, we found that existing workplace booking systems don’t have an integrated map function. For us, therefore, it was indispensable.
- Our solution shouldn’t just be an in-house tool for ti&m, but a product we could bring to market. From the very start, we viewed the development as a relatively large, agile project that also included downstream processes such as marketing measures.
From idea to product
Our multi-disciplinary team, consisting of front- and back-end-developers and designers, then got down to business. In just two month-long sprints, we developed an MVP. Configuring the solution was pretty longwinded, and we initially tried to integrate too many features. For example, we looked at displaying bookings synchronously in Outlook, but discarded the idea as the project continued. The longer the project went on for, the larger its scope became. To start with, we didn’t do much in the way of documentation, but now our developers and designers regularly record developments and problems on the Places wiki. Eventually, with constant redesigns, we molded Places into a highly scalable product.
Then, in the summer of 2021, we launched Places onto the market; it has been available in the Microsoft Store since October. It is now used all over the world, while here in Switzerland our clients include Swisscom.
Don’t be afraid of innovation
Innovation is a big word. But don’t let that scare you off. Our example shows that being innovative is really nothing more than developing new, individual solutions designed to meet specific requirements. What’s more, innovation isn’t just for private firms, as our garage project with GVZ, a building insurance firm in the canton of Zurich, demonstrates: In just two weeks, we had developed a firefighting app, which shows response crews the location of the nearest hydrant, its connectors, and the length of hose needed – all on their smartphone. What you need more than anything is the courage to try something new and leave the old ways behind you. And of course, the right partner in the right place. That’s where we come in.
Our garage is waiting for your ideas.
ti&m special e-government
What about the digital transformation of the public service? In our magazine ti&m special, we asked further digitalization experts from politics and government. to download