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We met Justin Witz at the 2016 Atlassian Summit in San Jose, CA. He's a customer, fan, and entrepreneur. His enthusiasm and sincerity endeared him to Val and now we're all fans of him too!
He used Balsamiq Mockups to design his custom financial solutions software called PlanTools.
He's got some great lessons that he generously shared with us below. Read on for our interview.
Financial Services. I am the Chief Technology Officer at FRA PlanTools.
Is it ok to nerd out? If so, I am very excited about a new regulation "Definition of the Term "Fiduciary"; Conflict of Interest Rule" we have launching in April 2017. Why? Well, I own / run a Financial Services SaaS company, and a part of that business is developing custom solutions for our clients. This new rule creates a plethora of opportunities to build new solutions. Which means I get to do my favorite things: lay out a concept using Balsamiq, project manage my development team in India, and deliver a product that saves people time, makes them more effective and increases their revenues. Their happiness is my happiness.
Do everything others won't do. You have to stand out, and with the FinTech industry booming, you have to find a way to make yourself attractive.
The WHY is easy - a simple product that delivers a big WOW. When I open Balsamiq Mockups, I have a blank canvas that allows me to become my own artist for each specific task. I am able to lay out conceptual designs for the UI and provide details on the UX creating a streamlined workflow that can be discussed with my team of developers to verify it's the best course of action.
I love working with my team in India, and to avoid language barriers we leverage Balsamiq Mockups to express our stories in a language we all understand. This leads to a higher success rate in development with minimal questions. It also makes us more effective with our time since we're not worried about the notorious "Did you understand me" statement. For companies with mixed backgrounds, Balsamiq is a language we can all understand.
An early mockup for The Principal's Target Date Analyzer
Control over pie/bar chart colors, interactive drop downs (an area I have struggled with) and in the Desktop version, sharing a web-based version that clients can view, add comments and a sign-off option.
The biggest trend in the Financial Services industry right now is the fast adoption of technology into everyone's daily business practice. Financial Advisors need to be equipped with information on their clients prior to meetings, follow-ups need to be streamlined, and reporting (something an Advisor does for their clients) needs to be automated and delivered electronically.
Companies are now adopting this fast-paced life-cycle, which is why companies like Principal Financial Group, Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, TIAA, and Charles Schwab have dedicated $1m a month for the next 18-24 months in building out a better ecosystem and/or acquiring the right partners.
I believe for us at PlanTools, success is measured differently than most companies. Of course, we measure by Net Revenues, but my team focuses on project completions, milestones hit and as few and minimal bugs, issues, errors, bottlenecks as possible during a build-out phase.
I'd say the biggest misstep we had made recently was doing a project for a friend's firm. We didn't lay out the contract ahead of time, we just dove in. Knowing each other for over 5 years, we felt comfortable taking this approach, but this ended up backfiring. As experienced as our company is, we learned that we can't do projects for our friends on a basis that is different than any other client. Put your contract in place before you start the work.
Thank you for sharing, Justin. You are a Champion!
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