DESNZ: Building a high-performing MVP to support UK businesses’ energy costs


Tecknuovo helped the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) rapidly kick-start an MVP to support UK businesses through the Energy Bill Discount Scheme (EBDS). We delivered a team in under 14 days using our flagship recruitment screening and mobilisation process. Once on the ground, the team delivered six months’ worth of work on the EBDS in four weeks, and helped DESNZ process 9000 applications — also in four weeks. This is how.

The challenge

DESNZ creates and implements policies to promote business growth, tackle climate change, and support the UK’s energy and industrial sectors.

Catalysed by a ministerially administered policy change, DESNZ needed to quickly deliver an MVP for a solution that will issue winter fuel top-up payments under the EBDS. This scheme will be instrumental for sustaining the UK economy through the cost-of-living crisis by helping vulnerable organisations pay for their energy.

Faced with ministerial pressure and a challenging five-week deadline, DESNZ needed a supplier who could mobilise a team of high-quality engineers to deliver an MVP at pace.

Our solution

Rapid delivery against tight policy deadlines

We had named, vetted, mobilised, and onboarded an expert team for DESNZ in just two weeks. This speed is groundbreaking compared to the industry standard of eight weeks, and was the first step in helping our customer start to deliver high value quickly.

Following the rapid mobilisation, we swiftly moved on to deliver the MVP, finishing what GDS estimated to be a six-month project in merely four weeks. With expert agile methodology, deep-running expertise in a GDS-approved version of Salesforce Experience Cloud, and the ability to respond swiftly and effectively to unexpected challenges, we built a grant application portal with three layers:

  • Applicant portal
  • Customer portal
  • Service Cloud (agent console)

Our sharp expertise in the GDS-mandated Experience Cloud package didn’t only enable our teams to expertly and quickly deliver the EBDS. It’s a skillset that can unleash further value in building products to support similar schemes — both within DESNZ and across wider government.

In a political climate where government bodies need to respond to policy change immediately and at short notice, quick mobilisation and quality delivery are not only valuable, but absolutely essential.

The results

A record volume of fully processed EBDS applications

Our teams delivered incredible results for both DESNZ and the companies applying to the scheme in record time. In the first four weeks post-launch, the portal successfully processed 9000 energy grant applications from companies seeking assistance through the scheme. This number far exceeds the levels estimated by the policy teams’ research, and was pivotal for kick-starting the department’s help to keep UK businesses afloat at a critical time for the economy.

An additional and indispensable feature

The product was initially scheduled to launch after just two weeks of work. But on seeing our teams’ impressive progress, our customer requested that we build an additional feature into the MVP: a bulk upload functionality. With just two more weeks added onto the MVP project, this added feature was a boon to DESNZ’s internal users. It helps them process and upload large volumes of applicant data to the portal at once — saving time and effort for the users, and slashing costs for the organisation. Additionally, we built the bulk upload feature to be fully reusable across DESNZ schemes.

A zero-bugs launch

The product had zero defects in the production environment post-launch. Most teams would typically produce at least 40-50 bugs. Our impressive figure is thanks to our team’s excellent engineering, test automation, and secure design engineering practices. Throughout the build, our solid knowledge of these practices let us engage with the security teams continuously and on a hands-on basis. Collaborating in this way let us understand their needs from day one, and enabled our teams to build the MVP with secure design at its core from inception.

Democratising technical capability through repeatable patterns

Tecknuovo designs our solutions to be as replicatable and easy to use as possible. We want to empower our customers’ teams to pick up and run with our solutions after we leave the engagement, and to apply minimal configurations and re-use them to tap maximum value across areas of the organisation.

In the case of the EBDS portal, this meant creating an out-of-the-box design with application flows built on standard small components that are available in the Salesforce package. Paired with our team’s well-kept configuration records, our design means that any team of a similar calibre can pick up the flows, make minimal configurations, and re-deploy the code for unlimited new uses.

The MVP hasn’t only released high value quickly for the EBDS. It has also set up the department for quick, quality wins across future, similar products. What’s more, this doesn’t only apply inside DESNZ, but across any government department that uses the same, government-standardised Salesforce package used by DESNZ and our team on this engagement.

The Tecknuovo Mobilisation Pattern

Mobilising a high quality team quickly was fundamental for getting the project off the ground and delivering the MVP months ahead of schedule.

We used our flagship Tecknuovo Mobilisation Pattern to do it. Within just seven days of agreeing the requirements with DESNZ, we used it to mobilise a cross-functional delivery team of:

  • One Delivery Lead
  • One Technical Lead
  • One Test Lead
  • Two Salesforce Developers
  • One DevOps Engineer
  • One UX Designer

Just 14 days after agreeing the requirements, our team were on the ground with DESNZ and had started their work to build the EBDS MVP.

How did we get there? This is the timeline that kickstarted DESNZ’s journey to fast-track its EBDS MVP.

Day 1: Initial request analysis

Day one marked the start of our engagement with DESNZ. We analysed the opportunity to spot perceived risks, assumptions, and challenges, already sketching the capabilities needed for successful delivery and outcomes.

Day 3: Agree on the statement of work

Here, we defined the finer details of how we’d execute the project. We laid out specific tasks, activities, deliverables and timelines, conducted joint discovery workshops, and designed the best approach for delivery. In parallel, our in-house talent team were reaching out to our community of 6000+ associates to get the wheels turning to rapidly get the team on the ground for DESNZ.

Day 3-5: Conduct the TeckBar

The 'TeckBar' is our bespoke screening process, and a critical part of how we ensure we deliver high quality teams to build our customers’ projects. By putting our potential team members through three vetting stages — technical assessment, project alignment, and values and behaviour — it lets us accurately spot the best ones and make the hiring experience smooth and efficient for our customers.

Day 7: Mobilise team

After successfully passing candidates through the TeckBar over just two days, we had fully mobilised a delivery team — ready to launch into their induction and onboarding.

Day 9: Tecknuovo onboarding

On the ninth day, we gathered the team in our HQ offices to introduce them to us as a company, our mission, and our approach to delivering technology consulting services. In the session, we aligned the new team members with our values and how we work — a critical step for fostering fruitful working relationships throughout the project.

Day 10: Project kick-off

During this in-person all-day event, we brought together members of the Tecknuovo project team, the customer project team, and Tecknuovo's wider squad. This included the executive sponsor, our dedicated Engagement Lead and Talent Manager, and a member of the PMO team dedicated to the project.

The kick-off included introductions to:

  • Tecknuovo as a company: an overview of our mission and approach to delivering technology consulting services.
  • Our working environment: including our culture, HQ office, tools, and resources available to support our team members.
  • How we communicate and collaborate: we gave guidance on how to communicate and collaborate effectively, including using tools like email, instant messaging, and video conferencing.
  • Working cadence: we outlined working rhythm, including check-ins, project updates, and other important events. This will help new team members understand what will be expected of them when.
  • Values and behaviours: our values and behaviours are critical to our success as a company. We explained our core values including integrity, accountability, and excellence, and gave guidance on how our new team members can uphold these values in their work for DESNZ.

Day 14: Team lands with DESNZ

At the end of the two weeks, our teams were formed, briefed, onboarded, and ready to start their critical work on building the EBDS MVP.

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