Pilots require time, energy, and attention to detail. Often overlooked, the most crucial phase of doing a pilot is the planning phase. In this phase, you remain high-level and scope out the pilot or test. It is important to not get into the details of the tasks. Rather, you want to remain focused on why, what, and where. You will find yourself coming back to this stage many times during the Pilot to ensure your decisions are aligned with the overall goals.
Part of the scoping exercise includes making early decisions about the where, how, when, and who of the pilot. These are early decisions because they can change or you may need to pivot as you're progressing in the planning or setup phases of the pilot.
A useful framework for scoping is to cover the 5 W's (Why?, What?, Who?, Where?, When?). Go through these 5 questions will take you through different aspects and parameters of the pilot relevant at the scoping stage, while leaving the operational How? to the Setup Phase .
The output of this step is a Pilot proposal you can share with (potential) partners.
Setting the objectives
Starting with the why will uncover the what. Ask yourself the first couple of questions to define if this is the right time to pilot your DApp, idea, or concept. Then start moving into the what questions:
Why do you need to pilot now?
What milestone have you reached that unblocks/warrants testing at this time? Alternatively, what upcoming milestone will this test complete or unblock?
How will the conclusions impact the decisions you make going forward?
How will you change course based on the outcomes and learnings from this pilot?
What do you want to test?
Use case, product/concept market-fit
What do you want to get out of this test? Is this test going to provide you strategic, product, or operational insights?
Market research & insights
What are the hypotheses that will inform the pilot design?
Once you've understood why and what it is you're testing, move on to defining expectations, and the starting point. Deeply understanding the question that you're trying to answer will facilitate the entire pilot scoping and planning process. Start by identifying the use case and focus on the user experience you want to accomplish. For instance, you may want to ask “How might we enable people to send remittances more cheaply and efficiently” or “How might we develop a solution so that anyone in the world can earn income with just their mobile phone.” For help developing your hypotheses / design questions, check out this helpful resources from IDEO.
It’s also helpful to get into the mindset of your end-user.Anticipate their needs and wants by answering some of these guiding questions:
What do users want?
What will be their behaviours?
What about their opinions
What do you expect to work as planned vs what do you expect to go wrong?
Draft concrete hypotheses tied to your objectives, which you can later measure results against.
User experience + flow of funds + ecosystem = pilot design
Based on your hypotheses, map out the flow of funds end to end. Pay close attention to the on-ramps and off-ramps in your pilot (e.g. how folks will get and use digital currency). Think about the user experience you envisioned when drafting your hypotheses.
The map will help understand what ecosystem players, partners, integrations, and other pieces of the experience. Below is an example for cUSD flow of funds for the Send, Save and Pay or Donate use cases. The similarities between these two flows are that they both require having a cash-in and cash-out exchange (or partner provider) that converts between crypto and fiat. In the case of the Save use case, which is a store of value, no other partner is necessary. For Donations and Payment acceptance it is necessary to incorporate a payment processor or provide an alternative for merchants to accept payments with an app. The funds flow is also a good place to check in with local regulations to determine any legal requirements.
With your design in mind, start approaching partners to gauge interest.
Where will you test?
Where you conduct your pilot matters. Different communities have different wants, needs, and regulations. You may be developing a solution for your own community, in which case the answer may be obvious. Or you might have several options/places in mind. The following is a non-exhaustive list of criteria you may consider when picking a location/market/geography:
Experience: Do you have experience or expertise in this location or a partner that can provide that insight? Working or testing in new places is always harder than doing it in familiar territory or where you have a network to rely on.
Regulatory landscape: Do you understand the regulatory landscape and feel comfortable with it? Blockchain and crypto face different levels of regulation in different markets. Do your research ahead of time and have a detailed flow of funds to avoid any surprises!
On-ramps and off-ramps for cUSD: Are there on-ramps and off-ramps for cUSD in that market? Ensuring there's access to Celo assets through exchanges or other partners is key. It may also be important to consider the user experience of these services.
Urban vs rural: Consider the quality of internet connectivity in the locations of your choice, as well as how accessible it is for the pilot team.
Language: Will your product or MVP be available in the language of that market and is the pilot team able to communicate easily and effectively with pilot participants? You may choose to work with translators to bridge that gap.
Who is your audience?
If you built your product based on insights from doing user research, you'll know exactly what user types you'll be looking to recruit as your pilot participants. If that's not the case, consider leveraging any relationships with student groups at bootcamps and universities, tech communities, etc. Some things to take into account:
Access to smartphones (i.e. smartphone penetration) and tech literacy
Financial literacy and crypto knowledge
A note on testing with vulnerable groups: Many of the solutions being created on Celo are built with the underserved populations in mind. When working with vulnerable populations it is important to make sure that people are not being exposed to unfair risk or being taken advantage of. It is essential to collect informed consent, pay fair and adequate compensation for participation, and be clear and transparent throughout the process. Consider whether you'd be exposing participants to financial risks, expecting a steep learning curve, or putting any unnecessary strain on people.What will be the mode: in-person or remote?Gathering feedback and learnings from users is easiest face-to-face. However, during times of social distancing, doing a fully remote and online pilot is a viable option, that may prove as effective and more cost-efficient. Regardless of the modality, make sure you have thought through an appropriate support process, including onboarding, ongoing support, and offboarding.
When should you move to the next step?
Setting up and executing on a pilot can take anything between 1 month and half a year, depending on the scope and size, how easy it is to establish partnerships and set up operations. In the scoping phase, you should take into account your objectives and hypotheses to define timelines for the next phases. This will help you socialize your pilot proposal with potential partners and keep everyone aligned and on track to achieve the goals of the pilot.
Use this template (make a copy) to define the timeline for your pilot. Make sure to check out the first tab "How to use this" for a step-by-step guide to re-creating this Gantt chart.
Proposal & Scoping Doc
Putting it all together: pilot proposal / scoping doc
You are now ready to pitch your pilot to partners and other parties involved, including communities from which you will recruit participants.Thinking back to your objectives and hypotheses (Why?), define your success criteria for this pilot so you can set expectations with partners from the get-go.
Remember to share your proposed timeline together with your pilot proposal!