Utility solar projects rely on a collection of hundreds of documents. These documents contain details that dictate whether a project is profitable, but are hard to track because they change constantly. Euclid offers consulting services to solar developers that ensure issues are caught and projects stay on track. To do this work, they relied on a process and a highly customized Smartsheet. The goal of this project was to create software that provided a more accessible, user-friedly method for managing projects. This would make it possible for Euclid to scale its interal process and eventually offer it as a product alternative to their consulting services.
The initial project scope was aimed at designing an MVP. We won the project because of our ability to get ourselves up to speed on the process through research and interdisciplinary learning. Unlike many design studios, our goal is to help shape feature sets and produce designs that are not only user-friendly but also take into account how the product will be coded and validated.
We initially focused on designing the minimum viable product. Euclid had already conducted user interviews so we started by reviewing their recordings. We then created and named personas like “Vivian Viewer” and “Isabella Input” that help describe feature decisions in the mindset of the users (instead of the product creators). Next, we mapped out the process as if the tool didn’t exist. This identifies the biggest bottlenecks in the “problem space” before considering the “solution space.”
Once we felt like we understood the users and the problems, we created user flow maps for the new solution that contained every piece of data and every action that would exist in the first version of the product. This makes it easy to sketch solutions in a higher level of fidelity. When we sketch, we always do so within different “paradigms.” Should it feel like an analytics dashboard? Or like a CRM? Or like a map tool? These are the high level product decisions that are easy to hand draw and compare. Once we decided on the high level project structure, and had the details mapped out in the user flow chart, we moved into black and white wireframes.
At this point, we normally start architecting the technical solution. Euclid had an existing technical consultant who helped tackle this process. However, it became clear that our help coding would enable Euclid to move faster. So we provided guidance on the project's code architecture. Once the real feature development was ready to start, we provided product management assistance by turning the wireframes into well-defined tasks on a Kanban board. This enabled us to start coding. To increase the velocity still further, we recruited, tested, and onboarded another developer and played the role of code reviewer and product manager as the team grew.
After almost a year of working together, Euclid’s business was in a position to hire a full-time team. We continued playing a product manager role in this stage, and even created a pitch video that they used for a grant application. Eventually though, it made sense for their full time employees to take over the project completely. In the process, they hired the developer we found for their project full time.
Obviously we can’t take credit for all the work of Euclid’s expert founders and employees. But we like to think by helping design, build, and validate a new product, we’ve aided in their establishment as a leader in the utility solar space.
“It wasn't just design and coding that made you all great... it was your process and ability to weigh tradeoffs like co-founders alongside us.” —Jacob Sandry, CEO @ Euclid Power
Get short biz updates 2-4 times a year. You'll learn about studio happenings, lessons learned, and plans for the future.
Copyright © 2022 LifeLike Labs LLC. All Rights Reserved. Special thanks to @usgs via Unsplash for the incredible photos.