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Adviser reporting tools 

Lead UX Research 

Leading a team of five people to run a discovery research project and understand what tools or features the financial advisers using an investments platform need to complete client reports. 

The problem

Aegon's sales and account management team wanted my team to build new features that would help financial advisers create reports they could send to their clients. They had been told by financial advisers that we should just copy one of our competitor's platforms. After analysing the competitor platform with solution architects and product owners we determined it would cost £2 million to build all the features and take 2 years. This was a big risk for the company and they were reluctant to spend this time and money on a long project. I initiated a large-scale two-month discovery project to understand what advisers needed and help form a priority list of features. 

What did I do?  


Put together a business case and gathered resources 

I worked with the product owner to create a business case to justify to the company why we should spend time and money doing discovery research before starting design work. After getting approval for this I formed a team to help deliver the research. The team consisted of two senior UX researchers, one UX research intern, a UX designer and a business analyst. I took the lead in planning and organising the team's work to help us get the best possible output.


Planned research activities workshop

I ran a half-day planning workshop online via MS teams with the discovery research team and product owner to discuss what we needed to research and how we were going to do it. The output of the session was that we had a backlog of activities we needed to complete and we also identified where we had key dependencies on other teams such as sales, finance and our UI design team. I set up a Kanban board to track the progress of the work. 

The key research activities we planned to do were: 

  1. Internal stakeholder interviews and focus groups with sales and operations team 

  2. A detailed competitor analysis of our top 5 competitors' platforms

  3. Contextual interviews with advisers to learn how they produce reports and what they thought of our competitor's platforms

  4. A card sorting and click test with advisers and customers to determine which areas of a financial reports were a priority or they didn't want to see 

  5. Customer survey to understand which methods of displaying financial data customer could easily understand. 

  6. Follow up interviews with some survey participants to get a deeper understanding of why they said certain things


Adviser interviews and contextual analysis 

I took on responsibility for conducting the contextual analysis with financial advisers, with help from one of the Senior UX researchers in my team. I wrote the discussion guide and prepared the material for interviews. I then ran interviews with advisers to walk through their process of creating reports.


I then watched the recordings and analysed all the interviews with the help of the Senior UX researcher. Using the results I then formed two user persons and a user journey map to help others in the team understand and empathise with the users. 


Group analysis and synthesis 

To keep everyone in the team aligned while conducting separate pieces of research I organised regular daily stand ups. I also organised and ran regular one hour discussion sessions every week to share our work and discuss our findings. While I was doing my own research I also had to help supervise and mentor more junior members of the team to help them deliver their research. 

Once everyone in the team had finished their research I organised and ran a group analysis and synthesis session where we did affinity mapping to join up the research to find common themes. We then played back the research findings to all stakeholders on the project, sales team and engineering team. 


Formed a product roadmap and release phases 

After we had played back the research I organised and ran workshops with the product owner, development team and design team to discuss and agree a roadmap of features. The discovery research helped us form a product roadmap which in turn helped us form a technical roadmap and design roadmap. This gave us a clear direction for the next 6 months and gave the business confidence we were spending money on the right features.

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The result

The first group of features released to financial advisers was really positively received and helped the company retain key business partners. Some of the advisers even commented that the features put us far ahead of our competitors. This was the first time the company had spent a significant amount of money to conduct large amounts of research before starting design and it is now used as a template for other projects which has led to a significant increase in demand for UX researchers in the company. 

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