The next level of tax calculation & fiscal reporting
BearingPoint Business Challenge
Create a consistent and seamlessly integrated user interface that minimizes error rates, saves time and elevates user experience to the next level.
BearingPoint is one of the largest technology consultants in Europe and has operations in 22 countries. It is a leading provider of regulatory and risk technology solutions.
Parkside was commissioned with the conceptual design, UX/UI design and the frontend development of the EasyTax user interface.
For the conceptual design an iterative and agile approach was applied. The project complexity made it necessary to recurrently going back to earlier stage solutions and apply findings to create better solutions for upcoming challenges. In parallel Parkside engaged a frontend development team working closely together with the BearingPoint engineers.
Parkside overhauled the EasyTax user interface, helping to reduce errors and optimize the user experience significantly. As of April 2018, major clients are running extended tests with parts of the software.
Solved user experience challenges
- Consistency in user fows
- Simplifcation of the error analysis
- Continuous digital traceability of tax calculations
- Resolution of critical bottlenecks in the workfow
- Enhancement of the overall user experience
- Seamless integration of transaction calculations
The Parkside approach in detail
From design gig to heavy duty engagement
BearingPoint was looking for a UX company to come up with a conceptual design for the new OLTP area of their EasyTax application. During the first workshops, BearingPoint learned more about our engineering and design experience and decided to additionally enlist Parkside to handle the user interface design and the frontend development for EasyTax OLTP.
Learn to walk and then walk the talk
However, before starting with the hands-on work, our team went through several half-day ramp-up workshops and training courses with the BearingPoint team. EasyTax is applicable to 20 different tax jurisdictions for onshore and offshore taxation procedures. Our developers established a deep understanding of the application, and moreover building up knowledge about security trading, taxation and reporting were critical for the project’s success. In parallel to the onboarding, we started user interviews with the BearingPoint clients.
Finding inconsistencies and a lack of straight-through data processing - User interviews with BearingPoint clients
We set up a series of interviews and workshops with the BearingPoint team to analyze all of the user roles, workfows, and challenges financial service providers are facing on a daily basis. Among other things, it turned out that a lack of seamless integration and insuffcient data drill down features regularly lead to inconsistencies, delays and errors in data evaluation and verifcation. The typical tax reporting challenges are to be found in the quality of the data: In general, the booking quality in core banking systems is insuffcient for achieving a high straight-through data processing rate. As a matter of fact, missing data (e.g. acquisition cost history) must be edited manually or incorrect classifcations (e.g. a capital disbursement has been classifed as a dividend) must be corrected manually.
Originally there was no option in EasyTax to clearly and comprehensibly show the transaction history of a customer in relation to a particular stock within the software. Transactions were manually exported to, edited and analyzed in Excel spreadsheets, and that resulted in inconsistencies.
Key findings and requirements from the interview phase:
- Currently the complex relationships between transactions cannot be sufficiently visualized. The transaction history should be made visible in an easy and clear way
- Operators must be able to understand the calculation logic and possibly also the change history in order to check the correctness.
- To analyze and edit complex tasks, database queries are currently exported to spreadsheets where they are manually processed and then reimported to the system, thus there is a lack of seamless integration.
- Fixing the same error in a variety of records is time consuming and error- prone.
- All change requests must be double-checked and approved by a second person before being executed.
- For their daily control routine, the operators need a central entry point (dashboard) so users can visualize all upcoming tasks.
Our starting point
Image: Simplifying and optimizing
the data workflow and user experience.
- Drill-down views for easier analysis and error localization
- Integration of a ‘Query Builder’ to explicitly gain data from the database, restrict data records during analysis and editing
- Bulk edit function to fix the same error in multiple transactions at the same time
- Creation of a release concept for all changes (“four-eyes principle”)
- Traceable change history for all bookings
- Drill-down views of the calculation logic
- A dashboard to visualize all upcoming tasks
The creation of personas - Who is my user?
On the basis of the interviews and workshops we went on to the next step: creating personas. The development of so-called personas, i.e. the representation of properties, goals and user behavior of concrete but hypothesized groups of users, was crucial when it came to understanding the business challenges involved, and in the end improving the usability and user experience of the application.
Image: EasyTax main
“The development of personas was an essential tool that has greatly accelerated the decision- making process, helped to prioritize tasks and develop the final solutions together with the client.”
Plotting user flow charts for better user understanding
To better understand how users get from point A to point B, we created user flows. With user flows, we were able to graphically capture the complexity of the path users take to solve a certain task in the application. User flows also help to identify the intersections at which users must make decisions.
By plotting the current user flows and gleaning the requirements distilled from the interviews and workshops, we were able to optimize and simplify user flows. These new flows formed the foundation for improving the application’s usability. We iterated this process together with the BearingPoint experts, achieving continuous improvement until we reached the expected quality level. This approach shaped a transparent environment where progress within a complex challenge became visible and lead to great results.
Image: Analysis of User Flows
The user interface - challenges along the way
To serve to the user requirements and to enhance the user experience, we had to tackle a number of challenges:
How does an interface look that gives operators the freedom to pursue different analyzing approaches while still offering a consistent concept in terms of data browsing?
How can we visualize the intermediate results of a complex calculation and - if necessary - also combine this representation with the change history?
How do we create a bulk-edit concept that not only allows overriding a property for multiple records with a specific value, but also adapting those records individually using a specific calculation formula?
How can we create a release process that allows us to bundle several contiguous editing steps in one session and then release them as one package?
Image: Linked Prototypes
Handing over the design elements to the engineers
Knowing that the project would be designed and developed step by step, we defined a reliable style guide to ensure visual consistency. This guide contained all components in use and was regularly expanded. In addition, we created detailed screen designs for each module to be developed. The screen designs were used and crosslinked in the Invision tool in order to serve as a click dummy and reference for the developers.
The resulting development was characterized by close collaboration between the BearingPoint and Parkside teams.
Image: The new design style sheets
Ongoing frontend development of the first application elements
The two teams (backend – BearingPoint, frontend – Parkside) had separate agile processes, with the backend development being upstream. The coordination between both teams was based on weekly teleconferences. Details were clarified directly between the developers as needed.
In a nutshell
Due to the complexity of tax calculations and reports, as well as the depth of the data within the EasyTax software, we took a smart decision together with the client that lead to great success: Approach the overhaul of the user interface and leverage the user experience with an iterative analyses and conceptual design mechanism. Investing resources and prudently applying conceptual tools like personas and user flows added great value to the overall positive outcome. The collaboration success of the BearingPoint and Parkside engineering teams was realized through an agile development process and weekly sprints.
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