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Farmers’ insights in record time with RVO

Joleen van der Zwan
October 26, 2022

Recently we did a thinkubator project with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). Thinkubator is Sogeti’s approach for applied innovation. The challenge was to make RVO’s sustainability regulations easier to find and access for farmers. The result was a tool in which farmers could see current sustainability regulations relevant for their specific situation, based on data about their enterprise. We worked in a structured approach from idea to actual working application. In this blog, I would like to share how this worked.

Subsidiator Experiment for RVO

The Dutch national government is committed to facilitating an excellent business climate. Ministries draw up policy for this. The task of implementing this policy lies with RVO. Part of this is drawing up and implementing regulations for farmers.

It is not always easy for farmers to find their way through the regulations of RVO. This applies both to finding current schemes that suit their specific company and applying for them. In addition, RVO would like to work in a more customer-oriented way and become better at applied innovation. Sogeti has helped RVO with this by executing a Thinkubator project together.

The customer as the starting point

The only way to make a design that really works well for an end user is to immerse yourself in their experience. The first thing we did in this project was customer research. We went to a number of farms in the Netherlands and conducted structured interviews with the farmers. We asked them to talk to us about how they were using the RVO regulations at that time, which devices they used for this, and what their business objectives were. After that, we translated the insights we gained into an “empathy map”, so that it was clear to everyone in one picture what the customer’s perspective was.

From customer insight to application..

RVO has many sustainability regulations for farmers, and the process has several components. The challenge was how we could conduct an experiment with a limited scope, so that the lead time would not be too long, and achieve maximum result for the farmer. With the insights from the interviews, we brainstormed best possible applications with key stakeholders. We then prioritised the ideas according to expected value versus complexity of realisation.

The application that came out on top was the “subsidiator”. With this tool, farmers can see at a glance which regulations are current and can provide value to them, based on their specific situation and wishes. In a joint workshop, where the business owner and a technical architect from RVO were present, as well as a farmer, we created the design for the end users (UI/UX) and the technical design.

..and back to the customer

We believe there is only one way to find out if your design is good and improve a first draft. That is why we test it with end customers (in this case farmers) before we get started to build working software. Using a clickable demo, we let 3 farmers work with the intended application. We collected feedback on both the design and the concept. Fortunately, all three farmers indicated that they would definitely use this if it became available. And of course, based on this test, we made adjustments to the design – button placement and terminology, for example.

Sogeti UX/UI designer Wouter Klaaijssen working with pig farmer to test the clickable demo

Based on the modified design, we developed and delivered the Minimum Lovable Product for the “subsidiator” in agile fashion. It is now available to farmers so they can try out how it works for them. Using a behavior analytics tool, HotJar, RVO can gain insight into user behavior in the tool and collect feedback for a next version.

All in all, to me this is a good example of how the Thinkubator approach can deliver a working application that solves a business problem and meets users’ needs, fast.

About the author

Innovation Consultant | Netherlands
Joleen van der Zwan is an energetic consultant with broad experience in multiple industries and a variety of roles. With her passion for innovation, she provide customers with insights and advice on their strategy related to innovation and new technologies. Joleen is head of organisation for the SogetiLabs meetup events, held twice a year somewhere in Europe.


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