Many companies opt to use incentive or reward programs in order to motivate staff and increase sales or work done. Wouldn’t it be awesome to not only have an online incentive/rewards program but mix it in with some Foursquare-style gamification for a conceptually awesome motivation tool?
That’s what RedCritter Tracker might just be. RedCritter allows you to create new projects, invite your team and reward the completion of tasks. Users will earn points when they complete their tasks which can be spent in your own company rewards store and even earn badges! Trust me when I say that when I was told about the app, I was very excited to try it out.
The Getting Started phase is a little more complex than you’d expect. Firstly, you need to obviously create an account assigned to your company. After that, you then need setup your first product, the thing all your team are working towards. You can do so by simply hitting the yellow “Add Project” button in the left of your dashboard, and then filling out a name and description. You’ll also be asked to add a status for the project, such as “Started” and “Future” (including a few which I don’t see anyone using, such as “Completed” and “Cancelled”).
Once you’ve created a project, you can start adding your team members. First, you must navigate to the user management page and invite your user, as long as you have an available user license. Once done, you can then move to your project detail page and add a team member by simply dropping them into the group. Now, the project will appear in their dashboard.
Starting to Delegate
Once a project and a release has been setup, you can start actually adding tasks and delegating. RedCritter Tracker uses a system of “features”, whereby a specific feature is assigned to a particular release and connected to a task assigned to someone. For example, if you’re working with your team on a web app, you could create a feature for creating the messaging system or working on the menu. By using the same button, you can also assign “chores” and “bugs”.
When you add a feature, RedCritter Tracker asks you for some basic information like a name and a classification (you can upload an image too, which is especially helpful for bugs). However, it also asks for other data such as the maximum number of reward points that can be awarded for completing the task and the estimated effort. Once added, a task will appear and you should also define the number of hours it will take and the number of rewards points given out when completed. Of course, you can add more tasks per each feature, chore or bug.
Once you’ve added a task to your release backlog, users will be able to see it in the release plan. This is very well hidden, and should really be more prominent. You should be able to locate it based on the image on the right. From here, users are able to see all the tasks in the plan of the individual release. By hitting the claim link under any tasks, users can assign themselves to tasks (note that tasks creator’s can also assign a task to a specific user or turn off the ability to claim/assign in the settings page).
By returning back to the project dashboard and navigating to the release tasks (the link next to the plan link emphasised in the right image), you can drag an assigned/claimed task into the “In Progress” column to notify RedCritter Tracker that you’re currently working on it. If you hit the Start button, the app will track how long a user is taking on the task. Users are able to add notes and files to an individual task, which is convenient.
Once done, a task simply needs to be dragged into the “Delivered” column to be submitted for approval. If the task has a designated approver (either by being assigned or claimed), they will see the task in their own task manager and be able to approve or deny it. If approved, the designated reward points are awarded to you.
A major flaw in the app is that it doesn’t seem to have a centralised notifications system. I’d like a Facebook or Google+-style notifications panel that listed all my to-do tasks, all the tasks I need to approve/deny, etc., but it’s just not there. You can get email notifications, but it’s not the same. Additionally, it’s disappointing the amount of pages you have to go through just to get to your tasks. Even if not as part of a central notifications system, I’d like some sort of to-do list across all pages in the app for fast access.
I’ve perhaps went into too much detail about the tasks process, which reflects it’s complexity. It works, but takes a while to get used to and could just be simpler. I think it would be much easier to have the creation of tasks and plan items managed in a release detail page (in fact, if I’m to be honest, I would prefer the whole “release” system to be done away with).
Badges & Rewards
There’s two rewards systems within RedCritter Tracker. The first are badges, which add a Foursquare-style game mechanism to your completion of tasks. These are trigged by specific actions, such as working on the weekend or completing your first task, and are added to your profile. It’d be nice if these badges could be custom defined and awarded a certain number of reward points, but it’s still a pretty neat bonus to doing your work.
The second is the biggest, the rewards system. As I’ve mentioned before, when you complete tasks, you are awarded a number of points, as defined by the task creator. These can be accumulated over time and then spent in the integrated rewards store.
The rewards store is setup by a designed user, who can add specific rewards for a specific amount of points. These can be everything from an extra ten minutes at lunch to a company car, whatever you want to reward your employees with. Don’t worry about your hundred employees all purchasing that single iPad you put on sale; an item can have a certain quantity defined to limit availability or expire on a specific date.
When a user purchases a specific item, the value is deducted from their point balance and an email is issued to the Store Administrator. From there, it’s up to real life proceedings for the administrator to deliver the item to you.
Unlike the fairly complex task and planning system, the reward store is a very straightforward and simple experience. I have no faults with how this works.
Although there’s the significant omission of a central notifications system, the app maintains a social vibe through the use of feeds that list all the activity from your team. If it didn’t have this overly complex project>release>plan>task hierarchy, I couldn’t fault the setup of RedCritter Tracker. However, the lack of in-app notifications and complex access to task management are pretty critical features that don’t do anything positive for the experience a user will have with the app.
If you too are annoyed by the whole project>release>plan>task system, you can change the terminology in the settings. That means you could rename projects as websites, releases as sites, feature as story etc. for a team blog, or something else completely. This somewhat remedies my annoyances, and hopefully will do the same for you.
Nevertheless, the concept of the app is amazing. I love the game mechanisms put in play that really make doing tasks fun. It’s also a much more efficient way of assigning rewards and bonuses, since users must actually do work in order to get them. It’s definitely worth trying out!