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Ease of use VS Benefits by Rob Doust

The latest new tech idea, incubators, disruption, seed funding – so exciting and great fun. If only all innovation was like this? For many of us, realistically, innovation is simply looking at ways to do things more efficiently or more effectively. And most of us don’t have huge budgets, resources or time.

So how can you filter the ideas worth pursuing – those that are worth the time to develop into truly innovative solutions – from those best left alone?

Uber got it right. At the moment, with so many of us working from home and connecting remotely, Zoom has become a global phenomenon. At Mainbrace we use Microsoft Teams, and we’re finding the meeting function both simple and beneficial, whereas other parts of the Teams infrastructure are less so – why is this?

We’ve tried and tested many different ideas and initiatives over the past 30 years with varying levels of success. A few years ago, following a period of reflection between ideas that had worked and those that had various levels of failure, we identified a simple test.

We began running our ideas through our Ease of Use VS Benefits chart to evaluate their potential, identify shortcomings and understand if the investment in time and effort is justified.


The Ease of Use VS Benefits chart is a simple, efficient process that has been the catalyst for us abandoning some ideas and progressing certain others.

Our Mainbrace App is one. Running the concept through the chart, we knew that unless it was easy to use, easily learnt and instantly accessible, it would miss the mark.

Similarly, unless the App provided tangible benefits that made peoples’ jobs easier, saved them time or money, or helped them do something they otherwise couldn’t do (adding benefits), it would merely be an unwelcome distraction.

By filtering the App through our Ease of Use VS Benefits chart, and making the appropriate adjustments as necessary, we managed to create something just as indispensable as the other tools in our team members’ tech-based work belts. It’s also an invaluable tool for our clients, who can securely access images of their site in real time, any time.

The Mainbrace Site Diary is another example. The safety implications of the tool are significant, and it makes our commitment to maintaining safe sites highly visible, but the ease with which our people can keep the Site Diary up to date is what underpins its usefulness.

It captures man hours on site, labour hire, safety processes and more. It means we can have discussions around productivity that were very difficult to have before, then make data-driven decisions. There’s no need to make a site visit to see who’s doing toolbox talks as these details are available via the web, having been simply entered on site by phone.

Its value is further enhanced because it is embedded with the rest of our Office365 software that cross links, so it’s another data set to draw insights from. Extracting and reporting the data is simple and beneficial – for us and for our clients – as the Microsoft SQL environment provides the architecture for all this information to be collected, sorted, accessed on demand, and provided as part of our regular reporting to clients. It puts time back into the day, as opposed to draining time away from our people.


On a construction site, waste is the enemy. Throughout the Mainbrace business, we consider it an enemy too.

Having been around for a while, I am a bit of an old cynic. I’ve lost count of the pitches I’ve heard on products or services promising to save us megabucks through productivity savings, only to be suitably underwhelmed by the actual gains.

The Ease of Use VS Benefits chart is an effective preventative against waste, which is why we’ve come to value checking in with it as we pursue our innovation strategy. If it isn’t in the top right hand corner, keep working on it!

In this way we can ensure our investments in time, resources and money are targeted at worthwhile endeavours that deliver true innovation.


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