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Case study: Busy Bees

Building an interactive digital learning platform to capture 35 years of childcare expertise

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UP digital learning platform - Busy Bees nurseries
UP digital learning mobile app - Busy Bees nurseries
Busy Bees practitioner app

Unleashing potential

Busy Bees is one of the largest and most renowned childcare providers. Their mission is to give every child in their care the best start in life. Employing 10,000 practitioners in the UK alone, they deliver learning to over 40,000 children every day. Busy Bees had a vision for a tool that could be used across the business to deliver a world-class learning and development experience for the children in their care. That vision became UP - an interactive digital platform designed to unleash the potential of parents, practitioners, and children.

Defining the platform
Busy Bees came to 383 after struggling to find the right partner to bring their vision and brand to life. They didn't just want an off-the-shelf solution with their logo stuck in the corner, as other suppliers had offered. They wanted a bespoke experience that would look and feel uniquely Busy Bees, upholding and enhancing their high standards of care.
Defining the platform
Getting started
To fulfil this brief, we knew we needed to develop a deep understanding of both the business and the end users. The project started with an immersion session, a series of interviews, and dedicated focus groups, where we spoke to stakeholders, nursery managers, practitioners and parents. We used the Jobs to be Done framework to help us uncover user needs, frictions and anxieties, creating a clear picture of the problems that this platform could solve. From here, we designed a value proposition and a product roadmap for UP.
Getting started
Developing the prototype
We identified several considerations that needed to be front of mind during our ideation and prototyping. - The platform should be designed to enhance the face-to-face interactions between parents or practitioners and children, not replace them. - Interactions needed to be as secure as possible, without slowing down or getting in the way of activities - Visibility of content on the platform needed to be controlled centrally, at a granular level
Developing the prototype
Horizon planning
Features were divided into horizons, and developed in an agile way through iterative design and product sprints. The resulting UP platform consists of a web app, native app and API. The iOS and Android applications provide a rich library of content covering audio, video and interactive experience, available for both parents and practitioners. A bespoke, secure CMS allows Busy Bees to manage and add content and features. And, most importantly, the platform provides Busy Bees with a future-proofed solution that can be scaled internationally.
Horizon planning
Launching UP
UP was launched at the annual manager celebration, where the team were immediately able to see it in action and start interacting with it on tablets around the room - no setup or training required. UP has had a transformational effect on Busy Bees practitioners, helping them further their professional development by sharing knowledge across the group.
Launching UP
Busy Bees digital learning mobile application
Design system for Busy Bees digital learning platform
Busy Bees Buzz mascot character
I can't recommend 383 highly enough. They understood us and our needs immediately, and adopted our language and terminology within our first meeting. Everyone at 383 is approachable and friendly, they do what they say they will do and often go the extra mile. Their ideas and creative approach to all aspects of their business sets them apart.
Yvonne Smillie

Yvonne Smillie

Deputy Chief Academic Officer

Busy Bees

Job done

Meet UP

Since launching in June 2019, UP has generated 1.2 million content views, with 10,000 parent downloads in the first two weeks and a five star rating in the app store. And for a few glorious hours, UP was higher than Peppa Pig in the educational app charts. Beyond the stats and the numbers, it's had a real impact on the parents and children in the care of Busy Bees - such as one Dad whose nightmare bath times have been transformed by the activities available on UP. Thanks to UP, it is no longer traumatic to wash his daughters hair at night. That is life changing.

Meet UP
Yvonne Smillie, Busy Bees at Canvas Conference 2019
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