Think of a time when you were at work and needed to buy something for the office. Maybe a book, a new mouse, or a new monitor for example. Now think of the process that went along with that... "How can I get this thing purchased so I can move on with my day? Who do I ask? Who can approve this?"
Procurify aims to simplify and solve this problem starting with: Approval Routing.
Approval Routing is a core feature of Procurify. It allows teams to define their restrictions around when a user can approve requests.
As the Product Designer on this feature it was important to understand 2 things:
1. What is the history of this feature in Procurify?
2. Why do customers have/need complex approval rules?
With this in mind, I needed to conduct some user research. This meant speaking with customers, stakeholders, and people with more knowledge than myself on the subject to identify what the real problems were. It also meant looking at the competitive landscape and working with our Product Manager to identify the gaps for the business and where we've lost out in the past.
Some examples of the questions asked during the research phase:
What types of things do you purchase in your company?
Who is involved with approving orders in your company?
In terms of purchasing, what kind of restrictions do you have in place in your company?
After going through multiple stakeholder and customer interviews, we settled on 2 key areas of focus:
1. Include additional Approvers based on the Category/Type of Product or Service
2. Support legal or procurement processes by Allowing users to approve/sign-off on Purchases in specific sequence and multiple stages of an Approval Step
Give users the flexibility to further control their complex Approval workflows by adding the ability to specify a wider set of rules for Approval Routing.
With the problem space defined, I moved towards ideation. I ran through a design sprint with my team to gather ideas and work towards a solution.
After gathering some ideas and input, I had a base for what could be translated into a simple prototype to run through with stakeholders and customers.
Running through those initial ideas with stakeholders and customers then helped shape the iteration of the initial concept into more hi-fidelity mockups to move towards the end solution.
Procurify users can now create approval groups that can be triggered by however many specifications as necessary. Now that real approval chains can be created, it serves as a stepping stone for visualizing full approval workflows for the next phase.
The new Approval Routing has had solid adoption since its release. 100% of customers have now moved over to this new workflow, with a majority now utilizing chained approval groups.
This also means Procurify can now serve customers with complex workflows which couldn't be previously accommodated.
Take the time to understand the problem enough to have the confidence to talk about it. Having confidence in why you're working on something makes it so much easier to communicate and be aligned on what's important to the business and more importantly, the user.