Case Study — Ernst & Young

Redesigned an antiquated desktop tax application into a custom software cloud system. A B2B product.

The Problem

Users originally had complicated folder structures with excel files that lived on their individual computers and shared drives. This led to complex review processes with many costly printouts, and storage of year old documents.

Objective

Redesign a desktop tax filing system into a cloud based application.

Moving to a cloud system allows users to:

  • Have quicker rounds of review
  • Capture notes
  • Earlier review throughout the work process
  • Archiving of tax filings (no longer having mountains of paper printouts)

Challenges:

  • Custom software
  • Created tax forms
  • Reviewed and approval workflows
  • Ability to classify, organize and archive data

Team:

  • UX Director
  • Senior UX Designer
  • Junior Designer (Myself, Freelancer) 👋🏾
  • Business Analyst

Define The Problem

We set up a “War room” within the clients building. This gave us direct and constant access to stakeholders and end users.

After initial interviews, as a team we wrote out the current system hierarchy to establish a shared domain knowledge. From this knowledge we were all aligned on our tasks.

System Hierarchy

Defined the hierarchy of sections that connect to create and file tax documents.

Whiteboard — System Hierarchy

Task Flow

My responsibilities were

  • The Dashboard
  • Creation of a new tax document
  • Out put of a completed tax document

To understand these processes I crated a flowchart and the pages or assets need to create a tax document.

Whiteboard — Flow
Create Document Flowchart

First Draft Wireframes

Whiteboard Sketches

Interaction Design Concepts For Importation of Data

We created high level sketches of possible methods for creating a new document and populating that document with data.

Whiteboard — New Project Sketch

Interaction Iteration

I sketched possible interfaces for importing data to a new document. With every sketch I ran to a user to see what they would ‘click’ first. Many of these ‘User tests’ were done with paper sketches.

Interaction Sketch — Some information redacted

Layout Interaction

Many iterations were tested with users. What we found was the more feature heavy or “Fancy” we got with the interface the slower users were to interact with it. Finally we settled on two simple dropdown menus. From this, I learned that simple is better in most B2B products.

Wireframe — Some information redacted
Detailed Wireframes — Some information redacted

Final Wireframes

Dashboard

Dashboard interaction for mid-level user group.

Dashbord Wireframe

Below is a screen that outlines how documents would be printed for different conditions. Each printing is for a different tax location and state.

These variations were taken into consideration in making this screen. 
Presets were used to so that ever setting did not need to be re-keyed with a new printing. We used the end users language in standardizing how we name components. This lead to a easier on-boarding and learning curve.

File Output Wireframe

Conclusion

The product was launched in-house to great fan fair.

As I was only hired for the UX phase of the project I did not have a hand in the visual design or development. But I was told that the system was well received and is preforming well.

Next Steps

If I could continue with this project, I would dive deeper in the the visual design of this project. As a B2B product visuals are secondary to functionality and ease of use. Though they are some things I would have tested before a full launch.

  1. User test the redesigned product with around 5 users against other users filing similar taxes but using the current system.
  2. Lay the building blocks of a internal B2B design pattern library. This would include UX patterns, accessibility rules and code examples.
  3. Partnered with the development team on making sure the application was made accessible to people with disabilities or physical impairments.

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