Tesco - The Colleague Room

Project Duration : 12 months +

An ambitious digital transformation initiative to merge all of Tesco’s online colleague services into a single, easy-to-use platform.

The Challenge

Tesco employs over 300,000 colleagues in the UK. Every day these people need to access various services to do their jobs. These include ordering uniform, planning shifts, managing benefits and all kinds of other things.

When Tesco originally began ‘digitising’ these tasks, the attitude was to launch a new website or app for each feature. Over time though, the number of platforms available to colleagues got way out of hand.

The situation had left people really frustrated. The tasks they needed to do their jobs were spread over literally dozens of services. All of these had wildly inconsistent (and often poorly designed) user experiences.

The volume and inconsistency of different digital services left colleagues feeling confused.

I had been working with Tesco for a while on some other projects, which gave some familiarity with the business. I also got to see first-hand the extent of these issues.

By speaking to actual colleagues and getting their feedback, were could understand and frame the problem to Tesco.

The huge number of disparate colleague services was causing inefficiency for the business and it’s people.

The Solution

Rather than continuing to design distinct sites for each new feature, we proposed a different approach.

We pitched a dramatic digital transformation project : to consolidate all of Tesco colleague’s self service into one mobile-first, user centric website.

Inspired by the UK government’s fantastic work with GOV.UK, The Colleague Room is a gradual migration of dozens of colleague services into a single place. The site is designed simply and responsively — meaning that anybody can use it, regardless of their ability level or the device they’re using.

By leveraging APIs from many different technologies and providers, The Colleague Room means an complete all of their tasks in one easy-to-use place, rather than being jumped around.

It’s one place to get your job done.

The original proposal for The Colleague Room.

What I did

I conducted user research & ran workshops

To understand colleague needs and establish priorities. I ran workshops to identify the various features and requirements needed for each service.

It was important to structure flows and present information in a way that people expect and understand. I worked extremely hard to make sure the site is designed around the needs of the user.

Early user stories and screenflows for a new service.

There’s nothing superfluous or irrelevant going on here. Every page and workflow is designed around being straightforward.

The priority wasn’t to do anything glamorous or exciting. We just want colleagues to complete their tasks quickly and easily.

Wireframe for a screen on The Colleague Room.

I helped create a culture of iterative prototyping & testing

This was vital. We needed to be sure that colleagues of any level could use the site.

Because Tesco stores are on virtually every UK street, the project was ideally suited to ‘quick and dirty’ user testing. I regularly visited stores with the latest version of a design prototype, running on a phone or tablet.

User testing with real colleagues in stores.

After getting feedback from the users, I quickly updated the prototypes and tested it again. Each service we added went through a few cycles of this, until we got it just right.

Tesco quickly saw the value in this approach, and now every service we add has user testing planned in as standard.

Testing allowed us to refine and iterate the user experience..

I developed UX guidelines and design patterns.

There are loads of services to redesign and migrate,so we’re doing them one at a time as part of a phased approach.

A wider team of designers and developers have since been on-boarded to the project. To ensure that there’s consistency in the design and user experience, I helped to create a ‘component library’ of re-usable interface elements. I also advise on the project plan and approach for each service migration, overseeing the whole UX component.

Screenshots from an early prototype.

This ensures that the designs created for The Colleague Room are reusable and consistent.

The Results

The Colleague Room launched to universal acclaim, with over 100,000 active users in the first three months.

Feedback from user and the business alike has been really positive. With less strain on HR teams to help colleagues complete tasks and find information, the savings are set to be huge.

The project is far from over though. This is a long-term project, with many more services still left to migrate. I continue lead the user experience work stream, and oversee the ongoing design of The Colleague Room.

Chris is a hard-working professional. He produces quality work in responsive timeframes and is really open to feedback, so working with him really feels collaborative. I enjoyed working with Chris on both a personal and work level.

- Thomas Trehearn - Colleague Room product owner at Tesco

Because of the internal nature of this work, I can’t give you a link to the finished product. If you’d like to know more (or just want to shoot the breeze), drop me a line!

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