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Software Design for Vendr (YC S19)
At Vendr, I worked with PMs, SWEs, and Product Designers to ship
V1 and V2 of one of Vendr's flagship products- Dealroom.
What is Vendr?
Vendr is an end-to-end SaaS purchasing & renewal management platform. Vendr's 'buyers' (procurement specialists) audit your SaaS stack, identify material cost savings, and negotiate to get you the best price. Vendr is a Series A startup, Y-Combinator funded (summer batch '19), and backed by VCs such as Craft Ventures (David Sacks), F-Prime Capital, and Sound Ventures (Ashton Kutcher).
Vendr's service offers the use of first-party software to help centralize and visualize a company's SaaS spend and savings (they also work with their spend management platform if they already use one, i.e. Blissfully, Intello, Procurify). This is what drew me to Vendr. I found it interesting how they combine both their service and their software to make a more personal approach to spend management. While other platforms just centralize and provide insight into spend, Vendr actually saves customers an average of 20% on their SaaS renewals and net new purchases.
At Vendr, we noticed an issue. When working on SaaS deals, there is a ridiculous amount of email back-and-forth. Hours are spent emailing contracts back and forth, trying to schedule meetings, facilitating between finance, legal, and procurement, teams, etc. Something that we believe at Vendr is that time kills all deals. These interactions take place between the Supplier (Salesperson) and the Vendr Buyer (on behalf of the customer).
We put together some basic problem statements to better understand the pain points with the purchasing/renewal process.
When getting to order form:
Stakeholders don't know their own buying process. Companies don't have a central place for knowledge about their buying process (non negitiables, etc.)
Stakeholders don't know what's needed. Stakeholders often don't know what's needed to execute a purchase and get the order form accurate
Order forms are often incorrect. Usually, when salespeople send order forms, they're innacurate (wrong signer, email address). This includes legal non-negotiables (i.e. auto-renewal clauses). SLA's don't meet requirements, it takes a while to get a good first order form draft
Extra cycles add time to the process. Stakeholders are often forced to go to security, legal, finance to understand what is needed (i.e. Security Questionnaire- is it needed? Who sends it? Who do I send the final version to?)
Buyers and stakeholders don’t know their own approval process. Who signs off in which order to get full approval?
Salespeople have little visibility into their customers' payment term requirements, signature process, company information, and payment processes.
The only way to get that is back-and-forth email communication
Email is the only mechanics for delivery of docs. No good way to identify the last/most current document revision
The solution? Build a centralized portal for salespeople to upload/download contracts, answer questions, view client/company information, schedule meetings, visualize deal status, and negotiate pricing. We wanted Deal Room to be the single place for everything needed for SaaS purchases/renewals.
Remove extra cycles, time, work in process of creating order form
In most cases, Order Form information is innacurate due to wrong address, wrong signer, etc.
Oftentimes, buyers forget to remind the salesperson to add specifics (i.e. billing terms, auto-renewal policy, uplift protection [i.e. no more than 3% uplift upon renewals])
Oftentimes, buyers forget to ask for the Microsoft Word doc of the ToS if there is no MSA in place
Remove extra cycles, time, work in process of getting order form signed
Order Form accuracy ensures that there will not be red flags from legal or finance, in which case they won't have to pause the review and wait to get an updated order form
Remove extra cycles, time, work in post-signing processes (POs, contract storage)
Our north star version of Deal Room included a large amount of features that would allow for DR to become the single place for everything needed in a SaaS deal. While it was great to have a vision for this feature, we had to select a realistic subset of features to include in our V1. The V1 was primarily a proof of concept, and we asked ourselves "How simple can we build this feature to test if anyone would use it?"
Because DR is used internally as well (Vendr buyers) we spent hours talking to Vendr's team about their pain points and learning what prevents their deals from moving forward. We settled with 2 big problems to solve for V1. These problems were selected as we believed they were the largest bottlenecks in moving deals forward.
Buyers and salespeople have hard times scheduling meetings and finding available times to chat (leads to a lot of back-and-forth)
Buyers and salespeople have hard times keeping track of document versions (i.e. terms of service contracts, point-of-sale docs, etc.)
We created a few flow charts detailing the process of how Deal Rooms are set up by the Vendr team and then distributed to external stakeholders. This helped the team get a better idea of how to structure our design process. From there, we moved to establishing some base assumptions for the design. This ranged from expected user action flows to information architecture to specific UI choices. The actual tech behind our V1 was quite simple, and our engineering team was able to quickly construct a platform for us to build our designs on.
We experimented with a multitude of different styles. We created wizard-type flows, dashboard-esque screens, and much more. We searched Dribbble and Behance for UI inspiration (with caution as to keep our accessibility intact). Finally, after a couple weeks of iterations, we landed on a style that we were comfortable with. We thought that this format could grow with Deal Room as we add more features and functionality. Here is the final design.
The white navbar on the left is from our internal VendrApp, a portal for admins to manage deal progress. We chose to keep it for V1 to keep a sense of familiarity. The font, Brandon Grotesque, was ultimately difficult for us to keep. Because of its use across Vendr's platforms, the switch to a new font family was slow and required a series of approvals (however, to the excitement of the Vendr team, we were able to switch to a new font pairing with V2).
Launch & Conclusion
We launched Deal Room by sending our first link to a customer to kick of a renewal process. We closely monitored every document upload, scheduled meeting, and task completed. To the team's excitement, Dealroom's use skyrocketed and customers loved it.
This project was amazing to work on. I love working closely with users to understand their problems and interpret them to create beautiful solutions. The team at Vendr is spectacular and I really enjoyed working with them as well. I learned a lot about internal product building, and how to iterate on and optimize features for internal use. I believe that this will guide me forward throughout my journey in product design.
Case Study Coming Soon