INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURE

LIFE CYCLE TRACKER

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ROLE
Product Designer
TEAM SIZE
1 Designer, 1 PM, 3 Devs
RESPONSIBILITIES
Product Design & UX/UI Design

OVERVIEW

An independent expenditure is an expenditure for a communication, such as a website, newspaper, TV or direct mail advertisement that: (1) Expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate; and (2) Is not made in consultation or cooperation with, or at the request or suggestion of a candidate, candidate’s committee, party committee or their agents.  

 

This type of political activity is heavily regulated by the FEC for federal elections and most states as well.  In particular, the FEC has very particular methods of following all aspects of this activity from dissemination to the public through final payment.  This means that data entry can be as simple as one transaction or it can be 4 transactions and more. I designed an Independent Expenditure life cycle tracker so that political fundraisers can keep tabs on where they are in the filing process and their next steps towards completion. 

 
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DISCLAIMER

To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this project. The project displays my thinking, abilities and skillset without tampering with the NDA.

 

PROBLEM

Independent Expenditures, which can involve multiple transactions in multiple places in the UI, are difficult to track in our system. We wanted to provide the user with a workflow to view and manage their IE's with as few clicks as possible.

 

Challenges:

  1. They fear data entry mistakes and are forced to use FEC report re-generations to confirm and feel confident everything is correct. 

  2. Transactions and Status:

    • If there is more than one transaction, knowing without zooming into each transaction.

    • If there’s more than one transaction, are all of them done and completed?

    • If there’s a Debt involved, what is the balance of it?

    • Using reports is insufficient because the system lacks data entry for a status.

  3. Ease of Use

    • If more transactions are needed, want to add them with 1-click.

    • Easily identify who’s being supported/opposed.

  4. Don’t want to re-invent or disturb the past.  This needs to be an additive solution.  No changing fundamental data entry.

 

It’s important that we fix this problem because:

  1. It is a real usability problem.    

  2. This market has not seen a new feature in years. There has been no innovation since 2011.

  3. Independent expenditure activity is increasing in the political world.  

  4. Many political fundraisers have spoken to us about this and we have had many direct requests. 

MY APPROACH

01

Discovery

User Interviews

Current Workflows

Competitor Landscape

Goals

02

Design

Solution

Site Map

High Fidelity Mockups

Interactive Prototype

03

Validation

User Testing

Updated Site Map

IUpdated nteractive Prototype

Next Steps

USER INTERVIEWS

The product manager and I interviewed many PAC data entry point of contact to understand the problem in-depth. We spent about 2 weeks scheduling and carrying out interviews, documenting our findings and coming up with workable goals to achieve with this project. 

 
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Save time

Currently, the CRM does not have an IE specific report. The user has to navigate to a disbursement report and filter for IE transactions. Even after doing that he is not presented with data that is useful for him to keep track of the IE life cycle and next steps. Below is a screenshot of how an IE filtered disbursement report looks like at present. 

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To simplify the most complex workflow where the dissemination happens first and the IE is paid later:

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You can see how a single independent expenditure workflow has 4 separate transactions. I could empathize with our users who have to work with the data entry of such transactions on a daily basis. It was clear to me that I had to find a solution to make their life easier. 

Susan, PAC

Seeing more and telling more about the transaction without zooming in. I want a single screen where I can manage all of IEs.

Jen, PAC

I want to see history of all transactions and changing estimates to actuals. Not seeing all of that is very worrisome.

Leo, PAC

I want to able to see the  Dissemination Date more easily. I have to have multiple tabs open and becomes very confusing to locate the parent tab.

A few direct quotes from my interviews with financial directors, campaign staff and campaign managers

COMPETITOR LANDSCAPE

No one has a direct competing tool. We had to act fast and smart to capture the market. 

GOALS

User Goals

  • Improved workflow and speed of data entry.

  • Less report generation and time loss.

  • Opportunity to delight them by responding to a reasonable request.

Business Goals

  • Retain the clients we have.

  • Win on differentiators not just features.

  • Increase revenue and work towards a stand-alone Independent Expenditure Tracker tool..

 

SOLUTION

As a company we believe that creating a life cycle tracking for the independent expenditure workflows will result in happier clients, less server load and a possible a stand-alone tool we can sell, too. The like cycle tracker will prevent us from re-inventing or disturbing the past and will add as an additive solution.  There will not be any change in the fundamental data entry which always good in a legacy product bound by many tight regulations. 

SITE MAP

I kept the site map very linear and create a healthy bottleneck where a user can access everything that he would need from a details page. 

INTRODUCING EVENT TYPE

I introduced the concept of event type where the user could select how many transactions he is expecting in the particular IE workflow and that way we can display the status of the IE workflow. This would allow us to make incomplete IE's more discoverable for user's action. I reached out to data and had them pull all the possible combinations of transactions that we have and discussed with SMEs to come up with a comprehensive list. 

  • 1 disbursement IE

  • 1 disbursement Estimate + Edit IE

  • 3 disbursements IE after dissemination

  • 2 Disburse + 1 Debt before dissemination

  • 3 Disburse + 1 Debt multi period Estimate + IE

I decided to add 'not yet determined' and 'other' to allow for midway changes or unprecedented incidents. In such cases, the status will remain unknown although the chances of this happening are slim. 

HIGH FIDELITY MOCKUPS

The below mockup is of the Independent Expenditure module with a list of all independent expenditures and its statuses. The page has a summary bar for the users to get a quick glance at where their campaign stands in terms of IE. The filter enables the user to quickly search for the IE that he is looking for. The name of the IE is pulled from the information that the user enters while creating the IE in this format- <month year vendor- condidate>. This allows him to quickly recognize the said IE transaction.  

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USER TESTING

I built an interactive prototype to test internally with our CS teams who most often assist clients with campaigns. We also tested it with our clients who work mainly with data entry. We received consistent feedback from them. The key feedback from user testing were:

  1. Include the purpose of the IE in the overview panel which the user fills up while creating the IE.

  2. The user wants to be able to add debt and expenditure from the IE details page itself instead of navigating to different pages to do that task. 

  3. Want to see if the expenditure is included in the F24 calculations. 

  4. Appreciated the visual indication for IE status and debt status.

  5. Want to see the same visual indicator of the IE status in the details page as well.

  6. Delighted that they need not navigate to different corners of the CRM to complete their daily tasks. 

This feedback was crucial for us to implement in the MVP. I made iterative changes to the site map and the mockups. 

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INTERACTIVE PROTOTYPE

This is a link to the interactive prototype that reflects all the iterative changes from the user testing.

NEXT STEPS

We believe that improving Independent Expenditure workflow & life cycle tracking will result in happier clients, less server load and a possible a stand-alone tool we can sell, too. We already have about 30% of our clients who are ready to adopt and when the adoption rate of the module hits the targeted percentage we plan on tackling phase 2.