Case study | Nationwide Building Society | 4 Minute Read

A world class digital agency in a 170 year old building society.

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Seeking to reduce its reliance on 3rd party agencies, Nationwide Building Society charged us with leading a programme of change that saw them embark on a journey to establish and embed an internal digital experience design capability. Based in the centre of Bristol, this has come to be known as The Studio.

An ambitious plan

In 2015, Nationwide Building Society had a core experience design team of just 5 permanent employees, but typically in excess of 30 external user experience contractors working on projects at any given time. 

Not only did this represent a significant cost overhead, but each time a project ended, they risked losing the accumulated skills and knowledge along with the contractors.

It was clear they needed a full strength in-house experience design team and the challenge for our consultants was how to, in just 6 months, put in place the people, procedures and office environment to start achieving world-class results.

A change programme, unlike any other

Delivered for Barnaby Davis, the Director of Digital and Mobile, the expectations couldn’t have been higher. Barnaby had become frustrated by how long new ideas can take to come to market and he wanted to realise a step-change in both the speed and quality of delivery. Furthermore, we wanted to do away with the unnecessary spend and waste that often leads to bulky, overinflated project plans. 

To make the situation more challenging, it was clear that establishing such a capability would be a challenge in Swindon, where Nationwide Building Society has its head office, due to the lack of available space, and secondly its attractiveness as a location for top design and creative talent.

A new location, process and culture

The programme to deliver the Studio was formed of 5 dedicated work streams:

  • Location and systems
  • Process and ways of working
  • People
  • Finance
  • Communications

Collectively, these work streams had accountability for delivering outcomes such as, identifying a suitable location and office space, fitting out the space so it would be fit for purpose and operational, the methodology and approach for producing the work, creation of AJI’s, grading of roles, recruitment and on-boarding of new employees. 

The Finance stream managed programme budget, forecasting and funding board submissions. Communications managed both internal and external communications and relationship management.

The aim is to reinvent Nationwide's design culture and develop the next generation of customer experiences.

Webster Garratt - Hd. of Digital Experience and Service Design - Nationwide Building Society

Birth of the Nationwide Studio

Following an extensive search in the South West and in London, Bristol City Centre was selected as the new home for Nationwide Building Societies “Studio”, which was completely remodelled top to bottom  to create a collaborative ‘Agency-style’ working space.

By working in partnership with CX Partners, a Bristol based UX and Design agency, we developed a new experience design methodology for The Studio, taking elements of Agile and Lean UX, and applying them to create a delivery framework for both large and small projects.

Furthermore, new working practices were introduced, such as permanent dress down and more social events, all designed to improve the culture, establish a place in which people felt comfortable and wanted to work, and an environment stakeholders from other Nationwide teams wanted to visit.

A lasting legacy

Delivered on time and under budget, The Studio is now firmly interwoven into the culture and change processes of Nationwide Building Society. Having been in operation for nearly 3 years, The Studio has exceeded all of its initial KPI’s and continues to play a vital role in all Nationwide digital change projects. It has reduced the cost of using external agencies and contractors and due to this success, has expanded rapidly, having doubled its original planned capacity since first opening its doors.

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