Gamification is essentially about using the typical elements of game playing – like point scoring, rewards and competition with others – to incentivise staff (or, in the marketing space, to encourage engagement with a product or service.) Simply put: it takes the (often addictive) elements of video games into the office space; and suddenly work starts to feel more like a game – with often remarkable boosts in productivity!

Tony McManus, MD of McManus Consulting, believes that gamification can play a positive role in the project management space. A successful gamification programme can increase productivity and quality of output; and boost morale and staff retention – all of which often pose challenges for project managers. By making work more exciting and fun, gamification can also help with that universal HR headache of how to improve staff engagement. Add into the mix the ability to encourage people to enter their project reports, task updates and so on and the case for gamification in project management is strong.

In 2012 – concerned by inaccuracy from its disengaged workforce – Lawley Insurance introduced gamification. During a two-week challenge, employees earned points for updating their files, logging their phone calls, and scoping out prospects and, according to Concur.com, “The contest was responsible for generating the same amount of salesforce activities in two weeks as had been created in the prior 7 ½ months.”

As more and more businesses have cottoned on to the benefits of gamification the industry has exploded; virtually overnight, gamification applications and programs have turned into a $100 million industry, which is expected to grow to $2.8 billion by 2016.

The first step in using gamification in the project management world would be choosing Gamified Project Management Software (like RedCritter Tracker, a powerful Agile project management service).

Capterra – specialists in selecting the right software for the job – has the following advice for introducing gamification:

  1. Part of the fun of gaming is that it’s challenging—but also that there’s hope in defeating the game. Don’t build a game that can’t be won.
  2. Ideally, every employee has a chance to win a/the prize. That means you can actually demoralize your employees if you only have one winner of a challenge.
  3. Encourage teamwork in your games. Person 2 Person Engagement notes, “The benefits of true teamwork compared to individual or mere work-group efforts are literally both measurable and incredible even before they’re gamified.” Add gamification to the equation and watch your engagement soar.
  4. Repetition breeds discontent. Make sure your game offers diverse enough challenges to keep your users engaged.
  5. Gamification doesn’t work for everyone. As a project manager and leader, it’s up to you to figure out what makes your team tick. If it’s not gamification, don’t be afraid to scrap the game.

© Tony McManus, McManus Consulting

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