Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC (BIGSNYC) had a vision: to create a mobile app that would help their adult volunteers/mentors feel more connected with other mentors, with case managers, and with the inner city kids being mentored.
Founded in 1904, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC is the original local chapter of the largest donor- and volunteer-supported mentoring network in America. Big Brothers Big Sisters is the leader of one-on-one youth mentoring programs; its mission is to match adult volunteers (“Bigs”) with kids (“Littles”) facing adversity so they can achieve success in life. Each year, BIGSNYC connects more than 5,000 kids with mentors. In their community-based programs, Bigs and Littles participate in activities that help Littles expand their worldview so they can refine academic and professional skills that help their realize their full potential.
Although other local chapters of BBBS had created some apps, BIGSNYC's wanted an app that would support mentors so they would have a greater impact on their match relationship.
The mobile app (called “GoBIG”) had to be a useful tool that would serve a few purposes: (a) allow mentors an easier way to send updates to case managers; (b) remind mentors of their core objectives (called SMART Goals) in helping kids; (c) give mentors meaningful ideas for their monthly outings.
Development of the app also had to be contained within a fixed budget, within a fixed timeline. While the initial project scope was ambitious, the fixed budget and schedule meant only core features could be designed and developed to fit the client’s business needs. An admin site (using Python Django) was also needed to input content updates for the app.
There was also an initial challenge in connecting various APIs on the backend to serve the required information within the app. Also, one of the core app features proved to be difficult to develop, as it involved connecting several pieces in the backend to appear correctly on the frontend. However, the team still managed to build within the allotted timeline.
In order for the GoBIG app to be developed on time and budget, more time was spent during the Discovery Phase (a series of workshops with the client) to determine the four most valuable features:
Once the core features were determined, our designer focused on app branding and the UX/UI in order to deliver designs that would create a cohesive product. A dedicated development team of 3 full-stack developers and 1 QA tester, plus 1 Scrum Master and 1 Product Owner, was also put together to guide the project from beginning to end.
Following the SCRUM/Agile methodology, design and development work happened concurrently, which allowed for flexibility in building and modifying features. For the feature that was difficult to develop, more time was spent wth BIGSNYC to redefine and refine requirements.
Also, instead of building a native app, GoBIG was first built as a web platform (a desktop site) and then “wrapped” as an app for both Apple and Android.
The entire team delivered a well-designed and well-developed product on scope and on budget, within the allotted development timeframe (six months). Also, the combination of Agile and simple technologies allowed basic features to be built faster; this meant more focus on the required business features, plus the inclusion of optional features (such as Welcome Tour and certain admin site functionalities).
Throughout the process, Pentalog/RevSquare and BIGSNYC also stayed in close contact to talk through ideas and issues; BIGSNYC was very involved daily meetings to provide feedback. Because of the constant and consistent communication, BIGSNYC was very happy with the entire process and the app, calling it a “game changer” for the organization and business model.
Currently, BIGSNYC and RevSquare now oversee the ongoing maintenance of the web app.
In total, the entire project took 6 months: