Financial Operations Automation Platform
Olivia is an internal project management system developed for the US boutique broker dealer firm Growth Capital Services. With Olivia, GCS provides brokers with a platform to perform financial operations in the expanding market of private securities where investors and entrepreneurs find each other to reach investment deals.
Broker dealers needed a highly secure tool to partly automate the workflow with loads of confidential documents. The system should have customizable access for users with different rights to view and edit information. That when the idea of Olivia came to life.
The Problem and the Goal
The world of private securities can be discouragingly confusing. It can be difficult to track down the information one needs to evaluate the underlying security and the credibility of the various parties to the transaction.
Besides, in the US, making investment deals and brokering activity are overregulated by state and numerous financial control agencies. Participants must fill out a huge variety of different documents in a strictly defined manner with many details, which are not to be neglected.
Growth Capital Services had the general understanding that they needed a platform to bring together multiple parties of the deal to a successful transaction. Gearheart’s task was to fill this framework concept with the specific subject-matter and create a secure, user-friendly system that could organize and handle a large amount of data.
To implement the initial concept, we offered to develop an internal project management tool to streamline the workflow due to partial process automation. Due to the peculiarities of the business area, we decided to build it around filling out the forms and assigning tasks. Also, because of security requests, we blueprinted role-based user access to shared deals and documents.
To match the concept, a simple user-friendly design was offered that included drag’n’drop workflow editing and form construction.
When GCS first tried to transfer all paper information into electronic form, it helped to get rid of piles of papers on the desktop, but first version of Olivia, while stored documents correctly, didn't automate much of a workflow. When company turned to Gearheart, we've spent some time trying to straighten things out but soon arrived to a conclusion that the system concept must be changed. We have figured out key activities performed by GCS employees and clients and came up with a workflow algorithm. To ensure that it runs seamlessly, a state-of-the-art project management tool was created. It supports tasks assignments, workflow editing and has built-in drag'n'drop forms editor as well as a flexible notification system.
The workflow is built around processing e-declarations between clients and broker managers. Generally, a workflow algorithm looks like the one below:
- A representative (or in some cases, a client himself) fills in a form;
- Supervisor checks the form and either signs it or turns it back with comments and recommendations on what to correct;
- Representative prepares a new set of documents for the next client.
To seal the deal, a user must fill out on average 4 forms (in total, there are roughly 80 different forms in the system). Each form is carefully checked; if it requires corrections, a user is prompted to fix it. Inside the system, we offered the color-based scheme that makes it much easier for users and managers to work with forms. Green color means that the form is filled in correctly; blue color indicates that it should be revised; red color explicitly shows that there are major issues with the document. Also, the information from filled forms is used to create a database of buyers, sellers, and transactions.
Structure & features
Olivia’s structure lets users easily systemize all information on any deal in designated folders with the Memo for each deal.
The data is presented in a table view; you can adjust the set of displayed columns, change their placement and size. We created the special module on angular.js with numerous flexible settings that allow to filter out the data by relevance, status, date, author. Table data can be exported to .xls(x) or .pdf files. You can also attach a necessary file when filling out forms and create deal engagement letters.
As a topping, office files can be signed right inside Olivia thanks to its integration with e-signature service HelloSign. This software provides legally binding digital signatures for applications, forms, contracts, invoices and more. The company’s data stays bank-level secure with SSL encryption and world-class server infrastructure. Herein, such signatures are valid all over the globe, including the US, the EU, and the UK.
Apparently, with a huge volume of data in the system, one would need a comprehensive internal search to get around quickly. Olivia’s search engine makes it possible to look for any type of information in the system using multiple criteria to provide precise and detailed search results.
Due to broker business peculiarities and security reasons, in Olivia, we implemented role-based access. This means that upon login admins, supervisors, and representatives are granted with the different set of rights to perform specific actions and utilize particular functions. If needed, you can split or merge roles to limit or expand access rights.
Role-based access is crucial for collaboration and concurrent work. With it, you can bring together several users in one team to handle the same deal. Herein, all “teammates” can access the deal they are working on but don’t see each other’s data on other deals.
Another useful feature of role-based access is that it allows working with the system for brokers’ assistants. Sometimes bosses (brokers) are often busy with more important stuff than filling out forms. With a step-by-step built-in guide, their assistants can do the routine while their bosses are dealing with the strategic issues.
Forms structure changes periodically according to altering control agencies’ requirements. To keep the process fast and smooth, we developed a drag’n’drop form editor. Thus, admin can easily create new forms with a different set of fields to match up-to-date requirements. Also, we organized the forms library. It contains roughly 80 forms for every occasion. For example, for describing a present from a client to a supervisor (this is one of the legal requirements for brokers in the US).
To match Olivia’s concept, our partners have offered a straightforward, laconic, “no fluff”-style design. It’s adaptive to ensure convenient use on PCs, laptops, and handheld devices.
Under Olivia’s hood, there are Django, MySQL, Solr, Angular.js, and jQuery. As a result, by utilizing these technological solutions, we created a stable, secure, and fast project management system that can process huge volumes of data and provide concurrent role-based access to multiple users.
- We modeled a comprehensive proprietary project management system for highly specific business area, which ensures that every transaction meets or exceeds the criteria of securities regulatory requirements.
- In Olivia, we managed to combine a workflow function with a template form-builder feature to develop a largely automated interface for independent registered brokers and representatives.
- During 3 years that we support Olivia, we made two redesigns and added dozens of new features.
- Thanks to role-based access, Olivia is straightforward to provide different rights for various users.
With its adaptive design, the site is optimized for tablet devices to provide smooth access on the go.
The major verdict of Gearheart's Olivia experience is that with the right concept and technical approach, a project management system with the rigorous procedures, effective guidance in structuring and executing transactions can become a great solution, not an obstacle.