Working with DCMS

We were delighted and encouraged to receive funding from the DCMS Create Growth Fund by Innovate UK. This fund exists to encourage innovation and growth in small businesses in the UK, and we decided to apply for funding in order to develop an idea that we had outlined quite some time ago but were never able to commit our time to; namely, the Evaluation Builder.

The idea for the Evaluation Builder grew organically from our business over several years. We found ourselves being asked to develop a certain type of web-based tool quite often, either integrating it into an existing client website or as the main feature of a new website. We referred to these kinds of web tools as ‘diagnostics’ for a long time.

Some example applications include:

  • A small business health check
  • An assessment of a proposed heritage asset project
  • A step-by-step guide assessing readiness for a community shares issue
  • A contract readiness checker

These tools were almost all built using the Drupal content management system, with our applications composed of a custom module and custom theme as well as the Drupal configurations necessary for it all to work together. After we had been through the process of creating these applications from scratch a few times, we realised:

  1. There was demand for this type of tool from both small and larger organisations
  2. The potential applications were almost limitless
  3. There was great scope for automating their creation

Due to ongoing commitments to client work, we were never able to find the time to devote to this automation, although we felt there was a strong business case for it, and that it could even potentially be made into a commercial product at some point in the future. So when we became aware of the Create Growth Fund, we thought it was worth a shot to see if we could convince anybody else of the usefulness of the idea. Fortunately, we could! We were awarded a grant to develop our Evaluation Builder.

Our MVP for the Evaluation Builder is a general-purpose Drupal module that, when installed, can streamline the process of creating an online self-assessment evaluation according to a wide variety of criteria. The questions, categories and scoring are all fully configurable in a set of template CSV files, which can then be processed to produce a fully functioning set of Drupal entities and a scoring matrix, as well as a pre-built report template using Google’s Material design as a base. 

This greatly reduces the initial setup work for creating an evaluation tool integrated with Drupal, and therefore the initial use case is for us to use this tool internally to deliver this type of website for clients more quickly and efficiently. By using the Evaluation Builder internally, we will gain valuable practical experience for the next phase of development, which includes exciting ideas such as a custom UI for creating the initial configuration files, flexible report templates, and much more!

We’re grateful to Innovate UK and DCMS for seeing the potential in our idea and believing in our ability to deliver it, and we’re very excited to see what the future may hold for the Evaluation Builder as we use it and develop it further.