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Supporting Connected Device Projects at Whirlpool

MANUFACTURING | DIGITAL

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Connected Device Projects at Whirlpool

TEKsystems Digital helped Whirlpool design a global mobile application that controls connected appliances across all of their brands, and improved the user experience of on-unit screens for new appliances.

Client Profile

Whirlpool is the top major appliance manufacturer in the world, with approximately $21 billion in annual sales. The company markets Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Consul, Brastemp, Amana, Bauknecht, Jenn-Air, Indesit and other major brand names in nearly every country. TEKsystems has supported Whirlpool since the mid-2000s.

Skill Sets Provided

Graphic design, motion graphic design, user experience design, user interface design

Situation

The Whirlpool Design Team was experiencing bandwidth challenges. Their workload was growing and they were taking on larger projects that required niche creative and digital skill sets. In the past, they handled bandwidth shortages by relying on internal recruiters to hire full-time employees or outsourcing a project entirely to an agency. Yet, the proliferation of digital technology and mobile applications were making these options cost- and time-prohibitive for the skills they needed, especially in the rural market where their headquarters is located—Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The design team decided to consider different approaches to increasing their bandwidth. They reached out to TEKsystems, a long-time IT staffing partner of Whirlpool’s, to discuss digital staffing solutions. Leveraging local labor market insight, we provided a quote for senior user experience (UX) skill sets for a six-month period.

Based on our quote, Whirlpool’s Design Team opted to use our digital staffing solution for the niche skill sets they required, as it would be dramatically more cost-effective and efficient than outsourcing to an agency or hiring a full-time employee to fill a short-term gap.

Solution

Since the local labor market did not have the depth or breadth of digital and creative skill sets Whirlpool required, we supplemented local recruiting efforts with regional efforts in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and neighboring states. Out-of-town placements would stay in town during the week over the course of the contract.

Our team conducted portfolio reviews with the candidates and clients to determine which designers aligned best with Whirlpool’s skill set requirements, brand aesthetic and company culture. Recruiters also conducted thorough reference checks.

TEKsystems Digital provided eight digital consultants, including five UX designers, two graphic designers and one motion graphics designer. Six consultants were on the ground at Whirlpool within five weeks of TEKsystems signing the contract, with an additional two joining a month later.

  • Improving the UX of on-unit screens (e.g., screens on washers, dryers, refrigerators) for new Whirlpool products
  • Designing a mobile application that controls a customer’s connected appliances via their phone—across all global brands (i.e., KitchenAid, Whirlpool, Maytag and so forth)

Our consultants integrated into the Whirlpool environment seamlessly, serving as an extension of the internal team. Consultants sat with full-time Whirlpool design employees and were plugged into the business.

Benefits

TEKsystems’ ability to ramp up a team quickly—and across multiple disciplines—has been critical to helping the Whirlpool Design Team consistently meet deadlines for product launches. Their increased bandwidth has led to an overall increase in efficiency as well as quality, as team members have been able to provide greater attention to detail since they are not spread too thin.

By partnering with a staffing company instead of outsourcing to an agency, Whirlpool was able to own the outcome—and the process. The internal design team could focus more on design and less on production, while maintaining creative power and retaining knowledge in-house. Whirlpool was able to grow the skill sets of their full-time employees as well as the TEKsystems consultants working on the projects, which lead to Whirlpool offering full-time positions to several of our consultants.

TEKsystems has continued to support Whirlpool on a variety of projects, including motion graphics design for their display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2016. We are continuing to fill consultant positions to further support Whirlpool with additional connected device projects.

Testimonial

“Whirlpool needed to augment our digital UX capability for a few large projects. TEKsystems took the time to understand our specific requirements and the skills we were looking for, and they really delivered. The talent we contracted with was best-in-class, and not only allowed us to meet our project goals but surpass them through their expertise.”

Richard J. Hughes
Manager, Connectivity User Experience
Whirlpool, Global Consumer Design

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