user research / ideation / sketching / development
Perhaps the least exciting part of traveling for work is having to track spending and fill out expense reports. As an Android Development intern in a team of 3 others, we tried to answer the question: how can we make receipt management fun?
Using Google Maps, Google Places, and a little research into EXIF information on images, I developed our idea of a business-review app for coworkers to share their travel experiences with each other and manage their spending simultaneously.
As an Android Development intern at Concur Technologies, I was tasked (along with 3 other interns: 2 developers and 1 designer) to create a standalone mobile application for frequent business travelers. The main business goal of this app was to provide travelers with a fun way to keep track of their work-related expenses. My contributions to this project include everything outlined below, except visual designs.
*To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have removed or distorted confidential information in this work piece. All information shared is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of Concur Technologies.
Before throwing around ideas, we had a couple questions: 1. who are our users, and 2. what is the expense reporting process?
Based on the requirements given to us, we knew the following:
- Our users work at companies that are already using Concur services
- These employees are currently traveling for work, or will be in the future
- Employees are required to submit their travel expenses to their employer so that they can be reimbursed later
- There needs to be a fun way of keeping track of expenses during business trips
Equipped with some understanding of the business needs, we went on to talk to some employees around us to figure out how people generally keep track of their work expenses and what the process of submitting expenses looks like.
how do you track your work expenses?
- save receipts physically in a folder or wallet
- save receipts digitally by taking pictures and storing them on a phone
- input the expense information into an enterprise tool after the trip
Favorite parts of business trips?
- sight seeing
- eating local foods
- meeting new business colleagues
Least favorite parts of business trips?
- balancing work obligations (meetings, dinners, deliverables) with down time
- planning excursions around work obligations
- learning the local transportation and eateries in a short amount of time
- remembering to bring all necessary work-related items
From our light research, we could conclude that most of our users take photos of their trip and receipts using a personal device. A high stressor for our potential users is trying to figure out the basics when they are in a new location. This could include finding a place to eat lunch between meetings, or how to get to a museum from the office.
Ideation & Sketching
We wanted to provide a space for business travelers within the same company to share tips and helpful information with coworkers traveling to the same places. If an employee traveling for work wanted to visit a coffee shop on their way from their hotel to the office, they could open up this app and see what their coworkers recommend.
Once at a recommended coffee shop, the employee could then take and post photos of their breakfast in-app, along with a private photo of their receipt to be tracked, also in-app.
I developed the entire application in Java using the Android SDK, and researched services we could use that would be familiar to users. For the technical implementations, the biggest features to incorporate was pulling location information from an uploaded photo, showing the user a map with coworkers' reviews and recommended places, and storing personal "check-in" information for expense tracking purposes.
extracting location information
Every photo has meta-date called EXIF information. With the EXIF information, I reverse geo-coded the latitude/longitude at which the photo was taken. Using the Google Places API, I was able to get an address associated with the lat/long. This was a helpful feature for the user because it removed the extra action to manually input the location or business name into a form.
I then used the Google Maps API to place a pin on a map for that location, showing the user that their photos and recommendation had been added. From here, the user could then view their own pins, or view recommended places from others.
Using Parse.com services, any receipt photo added by the user was stored. The user would be able to see all of their expenses in one place.