UX Product Design · 2023
Digitize the construction industry
In Germany, approximately 300,000 housing projects are built every year. However, 80% of them end up exceeding their planned costs. To avoid this, project developers need to carefully monitor expenses throughout each stage of construction. This task requires reliable data documentation, smart workflows, and an intuitive user interface capable of managing complex data. Alasco is a cloud-software that has been crucial in helping hundreds of project developers achieve financial success since 2018. With Alasco projects developers now streamline and optimize their construction projects, ensuring timely and cost-effective completion.
Enough of this sheet
Single source of chaos
Without a central storage location for all project data, file management resembles an unmanageable labyrinth of outdated project data and email attachments
Error-prone Excel spreadsheets
No security mechanisms: Critical human input errors of financial data in Excel are only a matter of time during the project.
Each construction site invoice must undergo a multi-step approval process. In case of discrepancies, communication and documentation become a tedious adventure.
Disclaimer: I borrowed this clever title from coda.io
My team wasn’t in charge of developing this feature, but I played a role in its improvement through feedback. As this page provides an “Aha” moment for Alasco, I wanted to share it with you.
Next Endeavour: Revenues
The cost-control features were crucial in securing a successful €40 million Series‑B financing round for Alasco. With the new funding, new product teams have formed, including my team “Project Success” which focuses on a project’s revenue streams. Simply put, without revenue, there is no project success.
Various initiatives and responsibilities within my team
Automatic generation of payment requests, Tracking of rental income, Tracking of global sales income, Rights & roles management, Project creation flow.
Selected Case Study
Record Actuals for Rent Units
There are different ways for project developers to sell a project profitably. One option is global sales with rental income. Here, I am presenting our solution for capturing rental income.
Main user story
To make cash inflow and liquidity controlling more accurate, we enable the recording and processing of scheduled monthly rental payments in Alasco.
I want to be able to filter rent payments by a specific time range, so that I can efficiently report to project stakeholders.
Design challenge #1
How to enable users to report about rent incomes to project stakeholders?
Reporting rent incomes is a crucial aspect of managing a multi-million project. Project managers need to have an accurate overview of rent incomes for a given payment period, such as the current year, or for a custom time frame, like Q1-Q2.
The design solution enables users to filter by selecting a custom date range using the time-period button. With the checkbox filters, users can also easily view all outstanding payments, providing an overview of how much money is still owed by tenants. While an export feature for the filtered selection as an Excel sheet was frequently requested for reporting purposes, it was not included due to time constraints.
Design challenge #2
What’s the optimal default time period for displaying rent payments for any given rent unit?
We learned from customers that by default they want to see 1) ‘current payment month’, 2) ‘next months’ and 3) ‘payments from the recent past’.
This default view logic (‘6 most relevant months’) makes sense for active rents but isn’t applicable to all use-cases. When a rent is planned in the future or is even completed, the 6 most relevant months are different. E.g. a tenant in the future has no historic data to show and there is no ‘current month‘ that matches with an existing payment. With this learning we decided to have different default view settings for all rent status conditions (planned, active, completed) to always show the most relevant payments to the user.
I want to regularly review and confirm monthly payments for peace of mind regarding the accuracy of my cash flow planning.
Design challenge #3
How to alleviate the burden of monthly payment confirmations for users?
An automatic tracking system using a banking API was not feasible within the allocated time for this initiative. Through our discovery phase, we found that 95% of customers pay their rent reliably. We learned, that our customers disliked idea of confirming payments each month, preferring to only engage with Alasco when an issue arises (the remaining 5%). To address this, we designed a solution where all payments are automatically marked as “auto-paid” and users have the option to remove the status if something is off. This change updates the planned with actual values in the cash inflow, providing accurate liquidity planning for project stakeholders.
I want to track partial payments and its actual payment date to keep my cash inflow reliable.
Design challenge #4
How to record partial payments payments and its implications on liquidity planning?
In the majority (95%) of cases, rents are paid on schedule, while the remaining 5% can create planning issues. These outliers include tenants who either miss payments entirely or pay only a portion of the amount due, particularly when rent increases at the start of a new year.
To address this, users can set their own payment dates. When an actual payment date does not align with the planned date (e.g., March rent paid in April), the liquidity table will be updated accordingly to provide accurate data for all stakeholders.
Alasco has a professionally managed product organization. Best practices from popular product management books are put into practice.
Alasco’s UX interface relies on simple components like tables, forms, radio menus, and checkmarks, which speeds up time to market. However, its limitations become evident when screens become too complex due to uniformity and design constraints.
Be mindful of the ripple effect that foundational decisions can have on future development. The significance of these choices cannot be overstated.
Team and colleagues
It’s a delight to work alongside intelligent and cooperative colleagues. I also learned to appreciate a skilled and professional HR-team within the company taking care of a constant influx of kind and skilled coworkers.
Each team member is empowered to optimize running processes. Our product discovery framework undergoes regular review and refinement for greater efficiency with each new feature.
Mastering the art of effective search saves a significant amount of time. Simplify the process for your team members to retrieve documentation and other important documents.