Back Office Accounting

Back Office Accounting

The most widely used real estate accounting software finally gets brought online.

Product: BackOffice by Lone Wolf | Project duration: on going
Roles: UX/UI Design and Direction, User Research, Component Library updates, On-boarding, Post-Launch Feedback

The old UI (left) vs the new web-based UI (right).

The Problem:

The company’s proprietary accounting software was originally built in 1987(!) and had remained a desktop application ever since. The archaic UI and head-spinningly complex functionality meant getting new users interested was a pain. Being stuck in the “dark ages” also meant the application was incompatible with the web-based enterprise suite Lone Wolf wanted to build.

The Solution:

Thoroughly investigate what existing users love and what parts of the software are actually being used. Perform competitive analysis and multiple rounds of user discover calls, user testing, and user design validation to uncover a logical way to consolidate and modernize the various accounting tools. Because the user set is so vast, we need to test with various user types.

The Plan:
  1. Conduct user discovery research. Focus on the end users’ needs; what do they need from their accounting software? Is there feature bloat that can be cut from this 20 year old software? What is it missing to bring it up to a stronger competitive place?
  2. Perform competitive analysis on other eSignature solutions, both in the real estate space and related fields. Identify any competitive weak spots or gaps in usability in their preferred solutions.
  3. Distill down the user types’ needs and find opportunities for consolidation and automation.
  4. Make it easy for them to get all the property, agent, and transaction information in one place and in-sync with other locations.
  5. Present UI mockups to users and iterate based on their feedback, stumbling points, points of praise, and “eureka” moments until we get a user satisfaction score of 7.5 +
  6. Build our flat mockups using our original Design System (v2).
  7. Update our React component library with any new assets so other products can take advantage of them.
  8. Share our findings with the organization, including those in Marketing and Sales, so that the points of praise about the new design can be leveraged.
  9. Perform a “soft launch” with a select group of users to monitor their response and see if there are any stumbling points with the redesigned product.
  10. Before the official launch, embed Pendo into the new app so that:
    a) we can monitor usage, user paths, and “UI hotspots.”
    b) we can add on-boarding tips to the UI easily
    c) feedback forms can quickly be added and monitored by Product
Screenshot of data from our User Validation calls.
Screenshot of data from our User Validation calls.
Screenshot of data from our User Validation calls.
The Findings
  1. Agents want regular updates on the status of eSignature packages, since the real estate deal successfully closing relies on the documents being signed and returned on time. (Or before other offers have been submitted.)
  2. Agents desperately want an eSignature solution that works better on a mobile device or tablet.
  3. Agents want to be able to create an eSignature packet on-the-go and then immediately pass their device over to their client for signature.
  4. There are Machine Learning opportunities to:
    • Detect signature fields on PDF documents and eForms.
    • Create “tool templates” that place Signature blocks, Initial blocks, and other interactive elements onto the form without the user needing to specify where each is placed.
    • Suggest missing fields or annotations.
    • After capturing signatures, detect how many signatures are on the document, even if our eSignature tool was not used or it was a “wet signature” with a pen on paper. (This number can then be compared against how many were needed.)
  5. A good chunk of users rarely log in to the product (5 – 6 times a year) so it needs to be very self-explanatory. On the flip side, the high-earning agents log in constantly and don’t want to be bogged down by “fluff” and wizard-style walk throughs.
  6. Many users found the icons and terms within Authentisign to be vague, unhelpful or difficult to interpret.

This project is on-going and is still in the development phase. Banking Reconciliation was launched in 2021 as the first module to go live. More updates will be posted here as they become available.