Financial Services Case Study:

Helping GEICO’s Mobile App Team Create 5 Roadmaps in 10 Days

In 10 days, 5 GEICO teams built long-term starting visions and short-term roadmaps for their product areas. Along the way, they learned the power of collaborative, structured brainstorming grounded in early user research.

Challenge: Aggressive Deadline for Roadmaps

A few years back, a GEICO product leader challenged his mobile division to create a product roadmap for the coming year — one that pushed the boundaries of mobile user experience in financial services. GEICO had established its mobile app as a leader in the insurance space, but its UX lagged behind banking and non-financial apps.

The executive provided his team with 5 rough areas to work in — such as onboarding and virtual assistance — and broke them into 5 working groups. Within a couple of weeks, he said, each group should come up with product ideas and draft annual roadmaps for its area.

Approach: 2-Day Design Sprints, Driven by Research

In collaboration with GEICO, Marketade designed and facilitated 5 two-day sprints — one for each working group — that used a customized, compressed version of the Google Ventures 5-Day Design Sprint.

Highlights of our process included:

  • Upfront user research.  We believe that a flaw in the Google Ventures sprint process is that it does not introduce user research until the last stage. So a key change we made for GEICO’s version was to recruit users and conduct interviews before the sprint started, and then share extended excerpts of that data early on Day 1.
  • Journey mapping.  Informed by the research, we led each team through a series of steps to reach a consensus on the 1 customer type and 1 journey point (problem) that we’d be targeting with the rest of the sprint. We reached this consensus before lunch on Day 1.
  • Sketching.  Teams consisted mostly of developers and business analysts with no design experience. We empowered them to become designers by guiding them through a series of ideation, sketching, and critique steps that work for anyone.
  • Storyboarding.  We brought the top sketches and solutions to life by connecting them to a larger, idealized customer experience visualized on whiteboards. This storyboard would serve as a guiding star for future prototyping and testing efforts.
  • Prioritization.  Based on the storyboards, teams identified the features and functionality they would need to design, test, and build to realize their product vision. We led them through a “bang vs. buck” exercise that allowed us to place those features into prioritized buckets based on estimated effort and impact.

Guided by user research, a sprint team collaborates to map the journey for their target customer and select the journey point (problem) to focus on during the rest of the sprint.

A sprint team participates in a series of rapid sketching exercises individually. Later, the team will pick the promising solution ideas and connect them through a storyboard.

By the end of the 2nd day, the sprint team reaches a consensus on the most viable concepts to add to their roadmap with the help of a bang/buck prioritization exercise.

Result: Rapid Roadmaps, Repeatable Process

Within 10 days, these 5 teams had achieved what a couple of weeks earlier seemed unthinkable: long-term starting visions and short-term roadmaps for their product area. More importantly, they’d learned the power of collaborative, structured brainstorming grounded in early user research.

These visions and roadmaps would change over the coming weeks and months, but they jump-started a series of mobile product improvements that otherwise might never have happened.

The sprints were so well received that GEICO invited us back to lead the same process for the mobile team the following year.

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