Designing a tool to transition customers’ files to our next generation platform
June 2018 – 2021
Status: In Production
Defining the problem
Our customers are challenged right now because..
- Workiva built many of their products using Adobe Flash. Flash is planned to be deprecated December 31st, 2020.
- Workiva built/is building new, next generation products to replace the existing products.
How do we get our customers to seamlessly transition into using our next generation products when they reuse their existing files quarter after quarter?
Build a transition tool that we can plug into their existing quarterly roll forward workflow to allow them to seamlessly transition into using the new products at the perfect time for their company.
Story: As a user, I want to be able to use the next generation products without having to create new files from scratch.
- Each new feature would take a lot of time to build, so UI updates will likely occur in pieces rather than as one whole UI update.
- No dedicated PM so there was no set roadmap and priorities changed often.
- VP of Development
- Two Lead Customer Support Managers
- Manager of the Transitions development team
This project was unusual in that it was not initially customer driven. Workiva having to create brand new products rather than update our existing products was an internal problem, not a customer problem. It also was not our customers fault that their files would not work with our new system. Granted, we have used the opportunity to improve and validate the features of just about every aspect of Wdesk products, which is the silver lining to having to ‘start over’ a product.
This tool was built very iteratively with additional functionality being added on and pushed to production in small increments rather than waiting until it was fully completed. Our approach to this tool was that the sooner we could give the customers something to use, the sooner we could get feedback on how that was working for them, what they really needed right now, and what they could accept getting later or not at all.
Additionally, we wanted to make sure that we would in no way affect their existing files, so the transition tool actually creates a copy of the file but in our new product. This would help make our customers feel more comfortable knowing they still had their original file.
Due to the speed of which new features were being added or tweaked, I was testing with our internal customers roughly weekly, showing them an updated mockup and getting their feedback on how easy it would be to use the newest iteration of the transition tool.
I will select a few iterations to show how much the tool changed over time, but please note that there were many smaller tweaks that we either discarded or later iterated over.
The first iteration was very utilitarian because at first only our internal Customer Success members would be using it to manually transition a few customers. (It was hidden behind a support flag.) So, very few customers even saw this modal. It basically consisted of 4 parts: header with instructions, transition settings, file settings, and a ‘preview’ list of the files that would be transitioned.
This is the point at which some specially selected customers were able to utilize the transition tool on their own, but still with their CSM paying close attention to the process. We had begun to add in a lot more settings and space was becoming an issue. So we decided at this point that our transition tool was more of a wizard, with 2 steps.
We also realized through testing that people were missing the fact that they would receive an email when the transition was completed. This was also a problem with a few other of our ‘job’ type processes like copy or import. So we created a new pattern of showing a smaller dialog after the transition or copy was initiated that would make it more apparent what would happen next.
This iteration should likely be the final one. There may be some UI updating in the future but it would be more focused on consistency of our job type modals than geared specifically to updating this.
Because of the file line choice to include a file in the process at all, we were able to dramatically clean up the second step. We also were able to add in the ability to choose where to save the new files.
Customers now have the ability to use the transition tool freely and are heavily encouraged to do so.