Test Of Details
Role Design Director
PwC is a global network of firms that deliver world-class assurance, tax, and financial consulting services for enterprise level businesses. The PwC group hired the Philosophie design team to streamline the 'Test Of Details' process, which is a name assigned to the auditing procedure performed by an internal group within PwC called the 'SDC'. The objective of this exercise was to diagnose procedural deficiencies and create a digital product that would save the group on time, resources, and of course; cost.
The process our team enacted in order to define and design the digital product we would ultimately recommend and in part build was as follows. During the first phase of this design intiative we reffered to as 'Discover & Define' we worked to gain a thorough understanding of the design challenge which included observing the 'SDC' group workflow in real time which informed our perspective as we began to draft assumptions. During phase two 'Ideate & Design' our team designed and prototyped our recommended solution in close collaboration with client side stakeholders. Lastly, we facillitated the 'Develop & Implement' phase of the process by providing our client's engineering team continued support as they built the coded prototype we recommended they pilot and test with actual employees.
Our design team travelled to Tampa, Florida and over the course of a week - we conducted stakeholder interviews, observed the 'SDC' group and evaluated their financial auditing workflow. We learned the current 'Test Of Details' process is highly manual and highly cognitive. We found there were hundreds of audits or types of tests. Within a test type each responsible client engagement team would determine the specifics of the test to be conducted. Spreadsheets containing the test parameters are nonstandard in terms of how they are constructed, and structured. Across these many audit tests the variable of difference was always the data set required to conduct said tests. We refferred to this data set as the 'Source Of Truth', a data set used to measure the succesfulness of the audit being performed, a user guide if you will.
As our design team continued to evaluate the SDC's auditing process, and interview employees of the aforementioned group we learned a great deal about the many pain points experienced within the current process. The process itself was very challenging, finicky and slow. Relevant documents required to start the process were hard to find. There seemed to be a persistent lack of contextual insight - including milestones, instructions, and changes. The hierarchal organization of the these auditing templates made the work hard to navigate. We heard that library procedures were particularly hard to understand for entry level employees. Mission critical instructions distributed by managing level staff members were found nested in many different places. And on and on and on... Our team unearthed so many pain points within the overall process that it became increasing difficult to prescribe a single solution. It was at this time, I decided to split our large product team into two units. One that would continue to explore ways to improve the entire process (see above diagram) from 'Start' to 'Wrap-Up'. The other team, my team would work closely with the client's engineering team to create a prototype that coould be piloted in an effort to solve for pain points within the 'Work' phase of the overall process - in other words the auditing workflow.
Our team designed an application that would best support the 'Work' phase of the 'Test Of Details' process. The application enabled users to create a unique test or import a previously created test template, finalize test setup, add test properties, perform the auditing process and evauluate the tests summary before finally exporting a finalized test for client review. We created an array of complex application states that would enable users to access coaching notes provided by managing employees, create and manipulate test spreadsheet templates, and support team collaboration. Our team also worked closely with the client side engineering team to establish logic for user permissions, and design a team dashboard - items that would not be included within the intial prototype created to be piloted by actual 'SDC' employees.
In the end, we encouraged the client to pursue building out a more comprhensive software solution to suppot the entire auditing workflow from 'Start' to 'Wrap-Up'. We reccomended they invest in building out the Test Of Details platform in full for testing - iterating further based on user feedback and continuing to build out a pilot program with the 'SDC'. We provided a clear reccomendation on next steps for the client to pursue. We asked that they (1) test the prototype with a small group of would be users. (2) invest in building out the entire platform in code. And (3) pilot the new workflow with select groups in the 'SDC'.
Andrew Zellinger, Joe Ehler, Sky Davis
© 2020 Andrew Zellinger