Project Case Study:

Digital Transformation in Commercial Real Estate

Case Study at a Glance

  • Client: International Financial Services Firm
  • Size: Corporation (10,000+ Employees)
  • Industry: Commercial Real Estate & Capital Markets
  • Deliverables: Product Backlog, User Stories, Wireframes and User Interaction Flows

The Opportunity

The financial services industry is experiencing an acceleration of digital transformation, due in large part to the effects of technology and process improvement coming together to improve human lives. Our client, a global Fortune 2000 commercial real estate advisory firm, engaged Main Digital to achieve their own digital transformation by using that merger of technology and process strategy to solve several problems at once. 

The client asked Main Digital to examine their existing manual commercial real estate deal workflow processes and provide a product roadmap for improving the current customer relationship management (CRM) solution to support clients and lenders across the Capital Markets division. This effort was an opportunity to enhance standardization of deal management processes, create more transparent workflows across different teams, and make the time-consuming, manual reporting process into something more automated. And after previous work with Main Digital, the client recognized the potential of starting with people first, the process next, and then technology. 

The Main Digital Solution

Bridging the Gap Between Business Users and Technology Teams

The client team understood the need to mature its product management capabilities to achieve digital transformation. Before working with Main Digital, there was a gap between the functionality technology teams were delivering and the capability the business needed from the CRM solution. Main Digital was engaged to provide product management expertise, to communicate prioritized business requirements to the development team, and to work across the geographically dispersed organization to build the CRM product roadmap. 

Developing The Roadmap Using Agile

Multiple sessions with the client user and development teams across the country were instrumental in honing in on team needs and discovering accurate requirements for solution design. Ultimately, an Agile approach was used to create detailed user stories and develop functionality incrementally. This included:

  • Understanding the business deal management workflow to determine how automated technology could best support the business process.
  • Documenting Epics, Features, User Stories, and Product Backlog Items (PBIs) with associated user experience artifacts to support the requirements.
  • Collaborating with the business and development team to size each PBI to understand the relative level of effort to implement requirements and identify areas where more analysis is needed.
  • Prioritizing PBIs to establish what the must-haves were for Release 1 and then organize requirements for subsequent releases.

This approach allowed their development team to understand the user stories and be able to estimate and plan for them appropriately. The company’s technological future was further illustrated with the development of wireframes and user interaction flows to demonstrate design concepts for essential functionality. The milestones of future iterations and releases were planned out with a detailed product roadmap to keep the digital transformation engine running long after the initial analysis work completed. 

“Visual design early on was an important part of this project: the value here was that the user could see their ‘words’ (user stories) translated into ‘pictures’ of future CRM, which allowed us to collaborate, prioritize features, and provide more accurate estimates for the product roadmap.” 

Sanam, CEO and Founder

Lasting Results

Main Digital helped this organization start their digital transformation by introducing three ‘rules’ for success: (1) Focus on Audience, (2) User Experience is King, and (3) Enable through Technology. Further, Main Digital demonstrated that product management was critical to linking Agile development teams to the business.

The CRM leverages an existing custom Web-based application by expanding and improving its functionality and user experience. It will ultimately help the sales team track communications and manage deals from prospect to close. Moreover, management will have automated reporting and more transparency into the deal pipeline to monitor and improve performance. 

The analysis provided by Main Digital capitalized on the existing platform, and it also set up the client team for success in the future by introducing Agile Product Management best practices.  One of the primary benefits to the client of this work is that they received a prioritized and sized CRM product backlog based on user needs balanced with technical feasibility. Everyone will have an application that is user-friendly and provides a one-stop-shop for valuable and instructional information.

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