First, winning a critical mass of users on both sides is vital to make the platform attractive: the more users, the higher the propensity for a good match. That is why after a conceptual draft, we started to reach out to our desired network partners that were directly convinced to partner: Haus des Stiftens, with connections to over 80,000 non-profits in Germany, and BDU (Bundesverband Deutscher Unternehmensberater), with 600+ consulting firms as members. A perfect match! In the developing process, we started to reach out to single consulting firms to create a circle of powerful first users that was a signal: here is expertise and capacity in the room!
A word by our partner Kai Haake (CEO, Bundesverband Deutscher Unternehmensberater - BDU),
“The BDU counts roundabout 600 members from the German consulting sector. All of them have unique expertise to improve their clients’ businesses. We engage as a strategic partner with Consulting4Good because we want to encourage our members to donate their time and expertise in the form of pro bono support of non-profits as part of their practiced corporate social responsibility.”
Second, while our platform partners with their membership base can bring traffic, we must ensure that the platform works smoothly. We worked days and days on user stories and ensured that the website will be easy to navigate and connect with potential partners. At this stage, we worked with cross-functional project team with user experience people, non-profit insiders and our developer team. In fact, it was sometimes hard to only focus on the minimum requirements –we always came up with new ideas.
A word from Elisabeth Stahl, member of our BearingPoint Technical Development Team:
“Our development team in Austria built the platform, and I enjoyed the collaboration with our German colleagues and the colleagues from Haus des Stiftens. Every week we met online – discussing wireframes (page set-ups) and user stories (needed functionalities). The project came with a number of complexities. Therefore I am grateful to have worked with my experienced team that mastered them all. There are still plenty of ideas for further development of the platform, so I am happy to continue my work as a project manager for Consulting4Good in the future.”
Third, as with any to-be-successful agile project, user knowledge and their feedback are key. While all our partners had brought some general knowledge on user needs to the table, we still found it useful to invite exemplary users to challenge our approach and first mockups. For example, we had a workshop with befriended non-profits to challenge our logic to get the most connections. With our consulting partners, we granted early access to the platform for detailed user testing.
A word by our partner Clemens Frede (Managing Partner, Haus des Stiftens gGmbH)
“A key mission of Haus des Stiftens is to enable social impact. With our network of more than 80,000 non-profits, we have a good understanding of what these organizations master – and what support they need. While the sector is strong in providing solutions for identified challenges, many of them lack specific expertise and dedicated resources to develop their organizations’ structures and processes further."
Fourth, we needed to ensure the independence and neutrality of the platform. From a legal perspective, we ensured this by transferring all rights in operating the platform to Haus des Stiftens. We were all very clear that in order to make Consulting4Good attractive to use for other companies, a non-profit operating the platform would help. Also, when we were at the stage to develop a brand identity, together with the design team at Haus des Stiftens, we agreed on a brand new color scheme and visual world that is not related to one of the partners’ corporate identities.
"With Consulting4Good, we jointly set a clear goal: to offer every non-profit organization and social enterprise the professional pro bono expertise they need. We are proud to now host the platform and program to ensure high acceptance for all parties involved. This is made possible together with like-minded companies such as BearingPoint.” (Clemens Frede, Managing Director, Haus des Stiftens gGmbH).