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Case Study / Aegon

AEGON - Analysis and new user interface concept
Having investigated the needs of the AEGON Company, we analyzed and developed a calculator user interface for their sales representatives. Ease of use, efficiency and serviceability were the main requirements emphasized for the new solution.

AEGON is a leader in the worldwide insurance industry, providing life insurance, pensions, savings and investment products. The company employs almost 30 thousand people. AEGON has been active in the Czech Republic market since 2005, with special focus on life insurance and investment products. Web: http://www.aegon.cz

Aegon / Client .NET / Technology
AEGON Czech Republic, one of the leading players in the Czech insurance market, came to us with the requirement to create a user interface for their application – an insurance scheme calculator. In the following description, you can find out how our team’s methods helped create a unique product which today helps hundreds of investment advisors carry out their daily tasks.

Case Study / Aegon

What were the client’s needs?
AEGON ČR disposed of its own development sources, and therefore the client set out a clear requirement for us – to design and implement a user interface in XAML format.

What did we offer to our client?
We at MEMOS share the opinion that a user interface accompanying any program, application or web presentation should be, above all, easy to use, and it should respond to real needs, i.e. live conditions of its users. In view of this commitment, we carried out a complex analysis for the application intended for deployment in AEGON ČR; we met with users in person to discuss and explore their real needs and requirements and existing conditions, methods of working with the previous program version, etc. As a result of our analysis, we built a user interface design providing efficiency not only in facilitating daily routine work for the program users, but also in resolving some problems which had not been previously addressed. We were able, for example, to decrease the time a typical user needed to learn the basics of working with the application, which also decreased the demand for initial training, and to facilitate and streamline the communication which required between the user program and the company’s helpdesk.

How did the analysis proceed?
Following a few introductory meetings with program developers, we proceeded to analyze the preceding version which showed essential shortfalls in the ergonomics for controllability. During interviews with the AEGON development section, we realized that users had requested some changes in the application which ultimately made their work easier, but the non-conceptional integration of modifications into the application caused a totally incomprehensive concept imposing confusion especially on new or less frequent users. We also observed how users worked with the old application and found out which steps caused them the most frequent problems, and which enquiries or requests were most often addressed to the helpdesk. It emerged that use of the program required knowledge of a considerably large amount of information, especially in the financial sphere, which could change quite dynamically in the course of time. The basic proposal was essentially focused on using context-sensitive [online] help within the application to explain each step simply to less experienced users, to clarify the different elements within the application and how the user can work with them. Later on, this step proved to have a positive effect on the basic training focused at working with the program, as the initial response from most users after

Case Study / Aegon

viewing the program tended to be “fine, everything’s clear, no need to explain anything else..”. A highly important objective throughout the whole analysis was to acquire a thorough understanding of the purpose of the application, by studying insurance products (investment and life insurance, etc.). This step was absolutely necessary for us to understand the needs of our users and deliver a top quality result.

Application design principles
The outcomes of the completed analysis provided the basis for creating a wire model, a so-called wireframe. This model did not contain any graphical elements, so we were able to test the functionality of the set up software function components, help items and other elements. After the wireframe was approved, we created an application prototype which served as the basis for further graphical design and a final design for the whole interface. We created front-end XAML interfaces, i.e. application templates, using the Microsoft Expression Blend 3 software tool which helped us create a semi-functional prototype of the desired application. Later on, we tested the prototype with real users and harnessed a huge amount of knowledge which we then incorporated into the interface such that the resulting application provided improved serviceability to users. Following the implementation of all changes, the front-end environment was successfully connected to the application core in cooperation with developers, and from that moment, nothing stood in the way of the initiation of a new calculator for AEGON’s products.

Conclusion
In order to constitute a first-rate, user-friendly environment, we had to become familiar with AEGON products and processes in detail, and cultivate intensive communication with real future end-users. Without these foundation pillars, the result would not have reached the expected quality level. Maintaining intensive communication with the supplier is very important at any time. An IT software solution which is supposed to be a true business benefit should include the possibility for analysts or consultants to gain a deep understanding – literally to get down to the logic of the organization’s internal processes and to learn their products in every detail.